Reminding that companies are also a live organism in a world that keeps changing so fast, Tal Garih highlights the importance of keeping pace with change through the use of strategic plans, and also mentions the concept of new-generation leadership.
We are now in Ortaköy building of Alarko Holding, one of the long-established companies of the Turkish business world. We are coming together with Tal Garih, the third generation representative of Garih Family, in this holding building that offers one of best Bosporus views in a sunny and mild December day.
Having studied at the departments of International Relations and Psychology at Virginia University, Garih has received his master's degree from New York University in Business Administration and Politics in 2010 with honors. The 35 year-old manager working as Strategic Planning Manager of Alarko Holding shares his insights about today's leadership and management in an era where change is inevitable, as well as what the youth should do in order to be more successful.
* Can you please tell us about your fields of responsibility as the Strategic Planning Manager of Alarko Holding?
Only 21% of the publicly-traded companies around the world have a strategy department. Now, we need to approach our business not only in financial terms, but also strategically. Where do we want to be in future, and what kind of a planning should we make to achieve this goal? How should we update our business model? What kind of strategic purposes do we want to serve? I focus on finding answers to these questions. I conduct various projects on business development, employee experience, reputation management and digital transformation processes. I am working together with a valuable team, and we are creating the future of our company together. This is because evolution is a must.
• In addition to your professional life, you also have a role in academic life.
Yes, I have been working as the Chairman and Faculty Member of the Faculty of Business Administration of Bahçeşehir University for the last 4 years. We created a mixed team here, which includes distinguished representatives of the private sector. The academic circles should not consist of academicians only. Likewise, businesspeople are also not supposed to be at offices only. Actually, this is an ecosystem. Universities should be in close contact with the business world as they prepare the youth for their professional life. Thus, we are not contending ourselves with lecturing only, but are also updating the entire curriculum. The public and private sector, academic circles, NGOs and the art world should all act in synergy. It is of vital importance to be a part of this ecosystem in a constantly changing environment.
• Speaking of your business, let's talk about the "A New Leader" Association... What kind of activities does the association carry out?
A New Leader Association has 60 corporate members, and a team of more than 250 mentors. I am the Chairman of this Association which is 8 years old now. My cousin Cem Garih and Kerem Sabancı Kamışlı are our founding members and co-presidents. In line with their vision, we provide the youth between 18 and 35 years of age with facilities as part of the cooperation among the NGOs, private sector, academia and public sector. We aim to create the cult of next-generation leadership. Here we carry out mentorship and coaching programs, as well as certification programs, interviews and cultural activities in cooperation with Boğaziçi University. We have launched a mini MBA program as a result of the cooperation of the Association with Bahçeşehir University, and we will move faster if people can get to know each other. We all need coaches, mentors and reverse mentors. Generation Z will mentor us so that we can get to know them closer.
• Another field in which you work is entrepreneurship and the activities to support entrepreneurship spirit...
I find out that there is a significant vicious cycle in terms of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurship-oriented investments made in 2018 in Turkey totaled 60 million USD. This amount reaches 60 billion USD in the US. This is a matter of concern for all of us. Me and my friends are spending efforts to create a new market area and a new digital hub in this connection. We will launch this hub and the new market area in the first period of the year.
"WE HAVE UNLIMITED POTENTIAL IN TURKEY"
• What are your observations about the youth as both a young leader and a faculty member?
They are disappointed. They feel lonely and believe that no one understands them. Even if they work at companies like Google and Facebook, they can't be happy if they stay at where they are for more than three years. They seek passion, meaning and idealism. At this point, they fail to be satisfied with a single career. Thus, we need to focus on our company culture, employee experience and how things will be organized. We should challenge the traditional business models, and update these models. By 2025, 76% of the labor force will comprise Generations Y and Z. Countries, companies and people will be divided in three classes in future. The first class will consist of the countries, companies and people who act with courage and take risks, and adopt new technologies, or in other words, achieve significant breakthroughs, and draw road maps. The second class will comprise people, companies and countries who do not draw the road maps to be followed, but still do not miss the train. Turkey has been included in this group until today. The third class will consist of those who missed the train, are left stranded on the desert and are doomed to death. We have an unlimited potential in Turkey. Our development will be challenging in the short-run, but successful in the medium- and extraordinary in the long-run. Because we have dedicated young people.
• Ok, what do you think change management should be like?
Change management is very critical together with corporate memory. There are universal values and principles. However, we need to repack these values and principles. Companies gaining strength is a very good thing. There is only one company which has survived on the US Stock Exchange since its very first day of foundation, which is GE. However, the company stocks lose value today. If a company is doing something right, it doesn't want to change that. Aristocracy is a dangerous approach. There are both internal and external factors that drive change. In terms of internal factors, it is the lifecycle of companies that matters. Each company has a lifecycle just like every living being. It needs to be retransformed according to the present conditions. We need to consider external factors, in other words, the environment surrounding us. The environment keeps changing at an incredible pace. An examination of SAP 500 companies reveals that these companies had a lifetime of 61 years in 1958. Today, there are very few companies older than 60 years in Turkey. This lifetime decreased to 15 years in 2018. 75% of the companies included in SAP 500 in 2012 are expected to cease to exist in 8 years. 50% of the revenue of these companies is derived from the services they developed within the last 3 years. We need to focus on, and interpret, the data here. For example, Google shows us the light flux of the Sun, hours of shading and how much energy we can save when we install a solar panel, by means of using satellites and maps. With a single click, they come to our house the next day and install the solar panel. Thus, Google appropriately interprets the data and solves the problem of energy.
"OUR GOAL IS SOCIETY 5.0"
• In today's world where the concepts of digitalization, artificial intelligence and Industry 4.0 are evolving at a spectacular pace, what kind of an action you think should be taken by the business world in terms of management?
5G, Blockchain, interpretation of data, big data and artificial intelligence are concepts related to each other. These technologies will be introduced into our organization. Yes, there are risks involved. However, all these new technologies are an instrument in fact. The goal is, however, Society 5.0. It was the Germans who pronounced the concept of Industry 4.0 in 2011. Then the Japanese said "Society 5.0" last year. This is because all of them should be designed in a manner to benefit the human being, environment and the society. We should spend efforts for achieving our goal, rather than deriving profit. We should focus on experimentality rather than control and fear. Rather than adopting an approach of hierarchical management, you can assume the task of a captain even if you are the smallest-scale actor. We should transform into quite leaner and more agile organizations. At this point, the goal is to achieve Society 5.0. As Turkey, we will achieve groundbreaking results, and be a country to draw a road map for others. Transformation is therefore a must. We should focus on the new global principles of cooperation, transparency and sharing. For example, Tesla made available all his patents for his competitors and the public with a view to allowing others to take his technology as the basis, and is still a leader. The other principle is about gaining power and authorization.
• How do you think the new-generation leadership should be?
First of all, we are all the leaders of our own world and need to discover the leader inside us. Therefore, entrepreneurship spirit is of vital importance. We have to make other feel this spirit, encourage everyone to embrace it, and resonate with all the employees. Real leadership is about ensuring that different leaders act in collaboration by means of suppressing their own ego. Actually, real leadership is only possible by means of empowering others to lead. If we are a real leader, we ensure that the award is won by the entire team. As well said by our deceased founder İshak Alaton, we will be the "third wheel".
• What are 2020 objectives of Alarko Holding in terms of strategic management
We aim to derive growth in our existing fields of area such as energy, real estates, construction, tourism and HVAC, and stay up-to-date and lead others in these areas. In the field of energy where we are active, we will make use of new technologies, and make new investments. As we seek new opportunities following the footsteps of our distinguished founders, we will move forward with the aim of being the most respected and strongest company rather than being the largest company in line with the company culture and principles.
• What kind of a management approach do you prefer?
In Turkey, we are generally too afraid of making mistakes. However, we should focus on experiments. We should not be afraid of making mistakes. Making mistakes is essential to success. I try to gain both respect and sympathy of others. The most important function of a manager is listening to others. I am a person who listens to others, demonstrates empathy, attaches importance to creativity, motivates others, reaches out to the leader inside others, and values entrepreneurship spirit.
• What do you do for self-development?
Let's first talk about our raison d'être. Why do we exist? The Japanese have a philosophy known as "ikigai". Yeah, ikigai is very important. It shouldn't be about getting a profession or setting a goal only. It is important to make sure that these are brought together at the same time. That's what I focus on. I mean, balance. Time is our most precious asset. Your money will return, your time won't. While we should listen to everyone, we should also follow our own instincts and knowledge. It took me some time to learn that. We have talked about digital processes and technologies. Apart from that, digital detox is also important. I enjoy spending time with my dog. Being in the nature helps us cherish each moment. And a 360-degree individual...You need to stay in contact with everyone from a businessman to a blue-collar, from an artist to a stranger, and benefit from everyone. We also should read more. I am not talking about seizing the moment. Those who seize the moment figure out the secret once they plan their future. I mean you have to be a prudent optimist.
Who inspires you in this discovery journey?
DNA and the environment are important. Everything starts from the family values. Thank God, my family raised me with very strong values. I strive to maintain these values. Self-development is also very important. I am working with three coaches. I have five mentors and three reverse mentors. Thus, being open to self-development, sharing and walking hand in hand with valuable people are important. You are the average of your 5 close friends. You also need to take care of your body. Body, soul, and mind are a whole. You need to nurture them all. I do yoga, which makes me feel good. I also do Kung Fu to combat stress.