Ebru Demirel: FIDI's first woman board member and a firm believer in amateur spirit
"Be professional… but don’t lose that ‘amateur spirit!" Ebru Demirel has worked her way up from supervisor to the boardroom at her family’s business. Earlier this year she became the first woman on the FIDI board. The president of Asya International Movers talks about her career.
What is your job title, and which companies do you run?
I am the president of Asya International Movers in Turkey, which was founded by my father, Ilhan Demirel, in 1963. I am also CEO of Bedel Mobility Solutions. It has the same ownership as Asya. Bedel was establised as a separate entity to Asya, to offer immigration and relocation (DSP) services. In the last few years, the company has grown to 26 staff based in Istanbul (the HQ), Ankara and Izmir. Bedel is a fast-growing company and we value it within our overall business.
Give us a summary of your career.
I joined our family company in 1992, right after university. I started work at our HQ in Ankara. We need to know every detail about our business, so I started work as a supervisor for the first year. During my supervisory job, I helped our crew with packing, loading and unpacking as well. I did a secretarial office job for our managers, and accompanied my superiors during sales meetings for a number of years. At Asya, we have a significant air cargo department, so I received IATA training the same way as any new staff member, to learn how to issue AWB and calculations. In 1996, I moved to Istanbul and started to work at our branch office, where I am still based. Today, I manage the company, with my sisters Hulya and Banu, under the leadership of our father. Why did you choose the moving industry? ED I always liked the idea of working for Asya, and never dreamed of doing anything else. Our father is still active in the company. Not only a leader to us, he also is a great father with vision. He actually made us become movers. He never forced us, but at the same time he planned it very gently so we naturally chose to become movers. I’ve always seen this as an opportunity and wake up every morning with a great enthusiasm to work for ASYA.
How easy, or difficult, has it been for you to progress through the industry?
As we all know, there are many family-owned companies in our industry; in a way, we are in a unique industry. We own and operate our own businesses. I remember attending my first FIDI conference in 1995 and I can say most people do welcome new and/or young members to our industry; hence I instantly felt part of the international moving industry. I believe that if you are genuine and honest in what you do – and with whom you deal – you will always progress. It was not difficult for me to progress, because my aim was only to do good for our company, and people see this.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs working in the moving industry?
If you like to deal with people, then you are in the right industry, because we are in a people business. Everybody has moved at least once in their life. So just treat them as you would want to be treated, and do not get offended when you receive criticism. Try to see it as an opportunity to make changes for improvement. No matter how big or small the company you represent, it is based on the same grounds. I also believe that there is no question that we need to act as professionals, but we should never lose our ‘amateur spirit’.
Finally, what is next for you – and for your company?
To be a visionary. We, as a company, have always achieved the ‘first’ in our industry in Turkey. We never hesitate to invest in our business to make improvements, and being the market leader in Turkey is the natural result of it. So my aim is to maintain that, by making sure that Asya operates in the same mindset as the customers to whom we provide services. We will continue to push for constant improvement, and continue being a solid company. We still have a lot to do, and this certainly excites me.