“A Magical Day” at Boğaziçi University (October 26, 2015)

“A Magical Day at Boğaziçi University” (BÜ’yülü bir gün), perhaps the most colorful of alumni activities, brought together Boğaziçi alumni in their classrooms on the South Campus on October 24, 2015. 

About the “Magical Day”

“Boğaziçi Summit - A Magical Day at BU” is a meaningful summit held to remember the Boğaziçi culture and values that are kept alive and passed on to younger generations by its thousands of graduates who have made a name in such diverse areas as arts, politics, and history.  Among this year’s guests were prominent figures from the world of literature, theater, and fashion, including Zülfü Livaneli, Rutkay Aziz, Doğa Rutkay, and Arzu Kaprol.

Burhan Karaçam:  Solidarity among Alumni for a Strong Boğaziçi

In his opening statement, Burhan Karaçam, a prominent figure in the business world and one of the first graduates of Boğaziçi University, presented a firsthand account of the transition from Robert College to Boğaziçi University.  Describing the 70’s and 80’s as a very important transformation period for BU, Karaçam stressed how important it was for alumni to keep Boğaziçi values alive.  He stated that with its alumni and its values, Boğaziçi University still has an important place in Turkey, and ended his speech with a call for “solitary among alumni for a strong Boğaziçi”.

Generation Y at Corporate Management

In the panel discussion following Karaçam’s speech, Tankut Şensürücü (class of ‘89), Canan Özsoy (class of ‘90, President and CEO of General Electric Turkey), and Tankut Turnaoğlu (class of ’89, Chairman of the Executive Board of P&G) talked about the rise of Generation Y in today’s business world.  The panelists defined Generation Y as “a highly self-confident and brave generation who try to change the world from the very first day they start work.” They highlighted the importance of this generation for the global companies they work for, and pointed to the fact that Generation Y held the majority of top management positions in Turkey today.

Secrets of Leadership from Two Successful Boğaziçi Women 

Among the speakers at the Summit were the Head of Sabancı Holding’s Human Resources Department Neriman Ülsever (class of ’75) and Avivasa Turkey CEO Meral Eredent Kurdaş (class of ’85).  In the session titled “Boğaziçi University’s Leadership”, Ülsever and Kurdaş shared their personal and professional experiences with the audience and offered insights into “must-have” leadership traits.

Neriman Ülsever emphasized that pursuing a professional career is first and foremost an individual responsibility, and offered some recommendations to young people: “Know yourself very well.  Discover your talents.  Then get to know the world.  Read, investigate, be open, and never withdraw into yourself.  Be a good team member but be different from the team.  A good team member is not a leader; a leader is one who makes a difference.  The most important quality of leadership is that leaders train people.  They are like the oxygen in the air.  A good leader is one who invests in diversity, one who embraces diversity in thought, language, religion, race, and gender.”

Ülsever told the audience that the pursuit of a career was a long and grueling path, so there had to be some stops on the way; in this context, she underlined the importance of renewing oneself at every stage of life, particularly during the aging process.

Meral Eredenk Kurdaş’s presentation was inspired by artists who left their mark on the history of art – from Van Gogh to Renoir, Boticelli to Osman Hamdi.  She shared some anecdotes from her personal career and experiences.  Kurdaş, a motorcyclist herself, emphasized that in her pursuit of a career, the motorcyclist’s motto, “you go where you look” held a special meaning for her, and that she had grasped the truth in those words while she was learning to ride a motorcycle. 

Kurdaş explained that making a difference in the business world lies in being open to all colors, knowing how to have fun while working, establishing a good dialogue with one’s employees and sharing knowledge.

“A Magical Day” had Some Famous Guests

Some 20 guests known for their accomplishments in different areas met with BU alumni at different sessions.  Among them were journalist Ege Cansen, writer Zülfü Livaneli, actor Rutkay Aziz and his daughter Doğa Rutkay, designer Arzu Kaprol, actor Emre Karayel, founder of yemeksepeti.com Nevzat Aydın, academician Özgür Bolat, Dr. Ender Saraç, M.D., curator Levent Çalıkoğlu, journalist Mehveş Evin, and writer Mustafa Aksoy, as well as İrte Alptekin, Altay Cengizer, Nur Ger, and Adnan Dalgakıran.

In his lecture titled, “Myths Taken for Truths in Economics”, Ege Cansen presented his observations regarding current economic issues such as the current account deficit and national debt, and his views on some “myths” that have been commonly accepted as truths in economic parlance.  Zülfü Livaneli took the audience on a literary journey to the city’s past with his lecture, “Istanbul and Literature”.  Rutkay Aziz, a doyen actor, and his daughter, Doğa Rutkay, held a Question and Answer chat with the audience.

Arzu Kaprol: the Technological Dimension of Fashion Design

The well-known designer Arzu Kaprol shared some of the “unknowns” of fashion design in her interesting presentation.  She stated that the fashion sector was usually perceived as just flamboyant receptions and parties, and added that contrary to popular opinion, becoming “good” in that field required disciplined work and long hours spent among dusty fabrics.  She claimed that in the near future advancements in technology would have a place in fashion design, illustrating her point via a jacket of her own design that could keep a person warm or cool depending on the season. According to Kaprol, the functions of fashion are determined by the priorities of society.  For example, at the beginning of the 21st Century, interest in the future led to a futuristic trend in fashion, but after the 9/11 attacks, people turned to the comfort and happiness of the past, creating the “vintage” trend instead.

Actor Emre Karayel shared his theater and acting adventures with the audience. He explained that before he received a scholarship and became a student at the Drama Department of Bilkent University, he had done some dubbing, which he had begun just by chance.  Success came after he got interested in theater and started his acting career.  Karayel said he is opposed to education models that stifle creativity.

“A Magical Day” ended with a concert where “Renkler”, a music group of 54 years comprising RC 1969 and BU 1973 graduates, accompanied the accomplished pianist İdil Biret.