Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story!
A: Turkey has quite a dynamic history as the lands saw many civilizations come and go for thousands of years. As a result, it's turned into a true melting pot of different cultures over time. One benefit of this, which I enjoy the most, is the local cuisine. You could easily drive 50 kilometers in any direction and come across a city with a unique local dish you can't find anywhere else. There's something for everybody when it comes to food here.
I spent most of my childhood in Turkey until middle school years, when we moved to Washington D.C.. It was the first time that I was truly in an international environment on my own. Being in D.C., I had the opportunity to experience a wide range of international events, which gave me a decent idea of what the world beyond the horizon was like to a certain degree at that age. A perk of being in D.C. was that not only were you being introduced to other cultures but also to the problems of the world.
Soon after coming back to Turkey, I joined my schools Model United Nations (MUN) Club and became the president in a short time. Coming up with solutions to some of the most prominent problems in the world with people bearing the same motivation as each other was great and got me even more interested in reaching a point in life where I would be able to tackle such problems with hopefully material outcomes.
During my bachelor studies I had the opportunity to study in Turkey, U.S., Germany and Hong Kong. Focusing my studies mainly on economics, I saw how differently each system viewed the concept of economics to be. I must also point out that my time in Hong Kong was perhaps the most influential on me. It was the first time that I had a mentor and the first place where I became a member of a professional institute. It was also one of the best cities in the world to strengthen my financial knowledge and skills, being the International Finance Center Hong Kong is.
There are countless other major events in my life that have contributed to me being where I am today but let's leave those for another interview.
Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?
A: With our civilization expanding at an exponential rate, so are our problems. They're not without their solutions though. Given all of the news we see on the media, I'm still relatively positive regarding the future of our world. Everyday innovative and progressive leaders are emerging and transforming the industries they come from. The number of such people is increasing by the day. The focus being given to the youth is also rising. It is enabling us to shape the future we want to live in.
My concept of a better world involves the humankind understanding that we all live on the same earth and share the same lands. For our shortcomings in life we seem to be happy with just blaming the next person in line. This will change once we realize that in order to improve the way of life of not just ourselves but of those around us and of those that will come after us, we have join hands and take on these problems together and be willing to take the full-responsibility for it. It is only after then that we will truly reach a new and more harmonious era.
Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?
A: In a global sense, I believe that lack of education and rising inequality pose the greatest challenges. The lack of knowledge/education in many of the societies is being exploited by people who knows of those absences. Many of the problems that we see on the news headlines today are a result of this. Growing populist and separatist movements that are pointing fingers at other societies as the cause of their own troubles is just another one of the consequences.
Rising income inequality may not seem like a new topic but once we look at the figures, it is undoubtedly developing into one of the biggest issues we will face. Not only is it a problem on its own but income inequality also brings several other problems with itself, including lack of healthcare, education, safety, housing and many others. It also usually leads the decision-makers within a country to take even more controversial steps towards dealing with the problem.
Even though the lack of education may be somewhat softened in effect by the increasing usage of internet, the income inequality will be harder to resolve. It will involve dealing with ineffective bureaucratic practices and challenging the status-quo developed by the system over time.
Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?
A: The education that we are given in a modern sense does not fit into the traditional way of thinking present in many of the organizations. Our current generation tends to learn by exploring and experiencing. The past 4 years of my life has been anything but ordinary. I learned not just about the life in other countries but also of the knowledge they had accumulated within their universities. In a couple of situations when I was discussing with senior colleagues, I had some possible solutions to a couple of problems, that were based on practices I saw abroad and sadly my ideas were not paid much attention to due to my junior status. I'm still optimistic regarding the future though. This is just a phase that we have to go through and I just have to remind myself to not do the same mistakes that those before me have made.
Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?
A: A mentor is someone who has already walked the path that you want to take. The guidance that they can provide you is invaluable as it can save precious time and energy.
Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?
A: Curiosity along with confidence goes a long way.
Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!
A: Animal Rescue Association in Ankara, Turkey is doing invaluable work by treating and rescuing animals in need. They're a small and dynamic community that is helping out over 400 animals at their shelter. A large percentage of the animals that are being treated and housed are severely injured and/or elderly animals that are not fit to living outside on their own. The Association is also defending the animals constitutional rights in the public.
Q: What are some of the challenges that women in your country face and what efforts are made towards gender equality?
A: Sadly, there is still violence against women present. Along with that, the employment and wage gaps in Turkey are major problems that women are faced with. There are a number of NGO's focused on this issue that are gaining power within the country, however, there is still a lot of way to go into fixing these problems.
Q: Athena40 is the first ever global selection of the top 40 women forward thinkers, commentators, activists, authors, academics, entrepreneurs, executives, innovators. Can you think of a truly innovative and forward-thinking woman from your country that you wish to nominate for the Athena40 global list?
A: Zekiye Koklu - President of the Animal Rescue Association
Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!
A: "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."
"I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
-Thomas A. Edison
Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.
A: The concept of sustainability is not just a theory but a material fact. We, as the new generation have the power to steer this train in the right direction.