Breaking the Mold: Ad Age and Media Cat Celebrate Turkey's Women to Watch

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From left: Oya Canbas, Pelin Ozkan (Editor-in-Chief, MediaCat), Asli Safak, Defne Koz, Didem Dincer Baser, Ebru Ozguc, Nazan Somer Ozelgin.
From left: Oya Canbas, Pelin Ozkan (Editor-in-Chief, MediaCat), Asli Safak, Defne Koz, Didem Dincer Baser, Ebru Ozguc, Nazan Somer Ozelgin. Credit: Istavrit Gorsel Cozumler

The fifth annual Women to Watch Turkey ceremony, held by Ad Age and its local partner MediaCat, brought together eight honorees November 8 — from industries including media, design, marketing and branding — to celebrate leaders and pioneers in Turkish media and emphasize courage and determination as core business values.

The event itself took place at Brand Week Istanbul, the biggest marketing and creativity festival of Turkey organized by Kapital Medya, in the Zorlu Performing Arts Center. The honorees all shared their thoughts on how the idea of leadership is both malleable and evolving.

The honorees this year include:

Magdalena Yesil
The founding board member of Salesforce and founder of Broadway Angels, is a pioneer in Silicon Valley, widely known as the first investor of Salesforce. Yesil achieved to open new paths for herself in a predominantly male industry and founded Broadway Angels, a group of female venture capitalists and angel investors. Yesil, also a former general partner at U.S. Venture Partners, is currently working on her fourth startup, DriveInformed.

Didem Dincer Baser
The executive VP of Garanti Bank (Digital Banking) was celebrated for her ability to achieve "digital transformation" in banking. Although she had her major in civil engineering, Dincer Baser found herself in Garanti Bank where she is currently leading digital operations and projects to improve customer experience in digital. Last but not least Dincer Baser is making essential contributions on CSR projects in her company like coding and robotics workshops for kids.

Ebru Ozdemir
As a civil engineer, Ozdemir shines in a male-dominant industry. In her journey to success her first principle has been, "never give up working and never run away from challenges." Ozdemir, Chairman of Limak Investments which operates in the field of infrastructure investments and energy investments, is also leading various projects focusing on social responsibility and women's role in business life.

Nazan Somer Ozelgin
The Yapi Kredi Retail Banking assistant general manager, started her Yapi Kredi journey at 2000 and took various assignments in senior positions. Also, she played an important role on Yapı Kredi's rapidly growing retail, SME and private banking categories. Moreover Yapi Kredi's customer centric strategy was leaded by her. Within her latest assignment, Ozelgin will continue her career at Romania as Unicredit Bank's board member in several countries starting from the new year.

Ebru Ozguc
Ozoguc has set herself apart by constantly looking for new experiences for more than 20 years she spent in the marketing universe. Working as the brand and strategy director of Vodafone Turkey since she joined the company in 2012, Ozguc has been playing a key role in leading the company towards its digital transformation. Dijital Donusum Zirvesi (Digital Transformation Summit), Vodafone İs Ortagim Yarina Hazirim Platformu (Vodafone Business Partner Ready For Tomorrow Platform) and Dijitallesme Endeksi (Digitalization Index) are among many other initiatives Ozguc and her team leads.

Defne Koz
Working along the edges of a triangle that consists of Turkey, Italy and the US, Koz synthesizes Turkish aesthetic values with Italian design philosophy. Since she co-founded Koz Susani Design, Koz has been awarded many prestigious design awards thanks to her design principles that defy areas of specialization, making her capable in almost every other subcategory. Koz believes that a designer's true mission is to go beyond "shaping an object" and produce ideas about the future and bring them come to life.

Asli Safak
As the practice of economy and finance become more jargon-powered, economics journalist Asli Safak's biggest accomplishment is to make these disciplines comprehensible to the masses outside their regular circle of technocrats; mainly the housewives. Having tremendous experience in respected media companies both in the UK and Turkey; she also dedicates her off-the-job time to helping women, stray pets and homeless people. Her motto in life as well as in business: "Be a problem-solver!"

Oya Canbas
Canbas was not even 30 years old when she became a board member in Gillette's Russian market. Years and lots of experiences in different categories and countries later, she is now the country head of Bayer's Consumer Health in UK and Ireland. Her previous role was in Turkey where she had led the same branch and initiated lots of CSR projects, the most successful of which were 365 Days of Health Platform and Healthy Living Movement Society.

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