Executive Vice President, Strategy and Industrial Relations, Dogus Holdings
“World village people” is the term Oz Denizmen uses to characterize herself and her MIT Sloan compatriots—comfortable in different cultures, intelligent and stimulating, eager to share knowledge. These traits have helped her start a social entrepreneurship initiative focusing on financial literacy in Turkey. It has also enabled her to participate in this year’s Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, a conference held in April to identify how the United States can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim-majority countries.
Since she was a teenager, Denizmen has moved seamlessly between Turkey and the United States, graduating with a degree in industrial management from Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relations School and joining Merrill Lynch's investment banking program. Today, Denizmen advises Ferit Sahenk, chairman of Dogus Holdings, one of the largest conglomerates in Turkey, on strategy and business development.
“It's a challenge to consistently stand behind my ideas, but it's a challenge that MIT Sloan classroom discussions prepared me for,” she adds. “I don’t have as much experience in any one sector as my chairman and his other advisors, but I can use my research tools to develop scenarios and project trends. I know how to look at the world. MIT Sloan taught me that I can do a lot in life and gave me the confidence to move ahead. I have found that Turkey is a good place to be a woman in business — I could see far more of a glass ceiling when I worked on Wall Street.”
Denizmen refuses to call her MIT Sloan contacts a network—they are friends. Two of her mentors are Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship Simon Johnson, who has coauthored a case on Dogus Holdings, and Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Professor of Management and Economics Emeritus Lester Thurow, who has led discussions with groups of top Turkish professionals brought together by Denizmen in Istanbul.