Introducing Lale Saral Develioglu – IDN Award winner

Winner IDN Award 2021 (Outstanding Mandate, For-Profit category)

In October 2021, INSEAD Directors Network (“IDN”) announced the three winners of the IDN Awards 2021.

Two of the three awards were given to IDN members with Outstanding Mandates during the year. Each has an outstanding track record and has demonstrated the highest levels of integrity.

Lale Saral Develioglu, IDP-C and Board Member, Anadolu Efes (Brewery, Turkey) was the winner of the for-profit category. Lale recently shared with us about her illustrious board career and her advice for aspiring directors.

Tell us about yourself?

Born and raised in Istanbul, I am an engineer by education and way of thinking. Yet my expertise is on the business side: marketing, strategy and business development. I had a rewarding executive career for 26 years in leading multinational companies like Unilever, Turkcell and Pladis, across various geographic regions and finally a global leadership role based in UK.

I am a board director since 2011 on a diverse range of boards in terms of ownership structures, company maturity and industry sectors, including telecommunications, consumer goods, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, gaming and customer service in Turkey, Middle East, CIS countries and Europe.

I am passionate about driving customer centricity, corporate governance and diversity-particularly women presence- in business. I am also a technology enthusiast and angel investor in start-ups in Turkey and USA. I devote a lot of my time to mentoring in various organizations, including Women on Board Turkey, Endeavor and INSEAD Directors’ Network.

Finally, I have also written a book titled “Karar Verdim” (“I Decided”), a memoir and personal development book on effective decision making.

What do you most enjoy about being a director?

It’s an opportunity for continuous learning and adding value to companies at a strategic level, while also creating synergies across them when you are on multiple boards.

I also value the role modeling aspect of my position for all women in business. I would like all women to think “If she did, so can I”.

You are a passionate mentor and regularly share your career advice to younger women. One piece of advice you have said to young women is “Embracing change and challenge is the key.” How did you prepare yourself to take on the challenge of transitioning from an executive career to become a full-time business consultant and board director?

The first quartile of my life was spent with education, like most of us. My second quartile was spent in corporate life. As I neared 50, I wanted to spend the third quartile with a new balance between “giving direction”, “giving a hand” and “giving care”. I had already been preparing for this next phase of my life and the balanced quartile idea really motivated me for the change. I am now giving direction, working as a board director and strategic advisor. I am giving a hand by devoting time to non-profit organizations, start-ups, university students and my mentees. Finally, I also have more time for family, friends and my personal development.

What advice do you have for aspiring female directors?

  1. DEFINE YOURSELF: Define your strengths as a director (not as a manager) and what value you can add to the board room. If the list is not strong enough, define the gaps and prepare a self development plan. Find the intersection of what you are good at and what organizations you would like to be part of.
  2. BUILD: Don’t wait till your executive career is over to plan for a director career. I demanded executive director roles in the group companies. I attended the INSEAD Directors Programme and got the certificate, besides a local director certificate program. I convinced my company to allow me for a NED role while I was still active as an executive. Also continue to read, listen, watch and keep yourself updated. You don’t want to be an outdated director when the role comes.
  3. CONNECT: “Lean In” as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg had written in her book with the same title. Build you network and trusting contacts as a potential value adding director.

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