‘Turkey is a growth market with great potential’
Interview with Sacha Menses of Holland Group Holding
for website of Dutch Business Association Turkey
The office in the Etiler business district of Istanbul radiates good karma. That is obvious. This is the former office of Cem Yılmaz, a successful Turkish stand-up comedian, actor and filmmaker and cartoonist. A guy with lots of positive energy. “What better place than this location to start a new business?” Sacha Menses asks rhetorically. She is the Marketing Communications Manager of the Holland Group Holding. And she is happy with the new office centrally located in the business district, close to the Ak Merkez shopping mall and next to a Metro stop that will be opened in the near future.
It is a Dutch commercial organization ‘with a heart’, as Menses calls it. What they provide? Executive search, recruitment, staffing, payroll services, HR solutions and in-house services. The two Dutch entrepreneurs who started this company together share over 40 years of experience in recruitment and related services. In the Netherlands they have built up a lot of expertise and are particularly strong in the technical sector where they do business with among others Philips and ASML, a Dutch company and the largest supplier in the world of photolithography systems for the semiconductor industry. That company manufactures machines for the production of integrated circuits, such as CPUs, DRAM memory, flash memory. Other high-tech companies are clients as well.
“Creating job satisfaction is very important for us”, Sacha Menses says. “We realise that work is a major contributing factor to people’s sense of well-being and self-worth, and we want to make the labour market accessible for everybody. That is what makes us different. We want to be a partner, not just for businesses but for job seekers as well”.
Why Turkey? Menses: “This is the place to be; it is an emerging, big and fast growing market with great potential. The Turks are dynamic entrepreneurs; they always see opportunities to grow and expand. Turkey also has a young and growing population that is increasingly well-educated. Another major factor is the country’s location between Europe, Asia and Africa. This is a hub for neighbouring regions and a perfect place for us to expand our international business from.”
In the short term foreign entrepreneurs like Holland Group may be faced with some uncertainties because of the political turmoil and the upcoming elections, but in the long run this is a country with strong fundamentals and plenty of opportunities, is the conviction of Menses.
In Turkey there are still some legal restrictions with respect to the temping concept, which makes it hard to execute this on a large scale at the moment. A bill has been drafted to allow temporary labour to a fuller extent, but it is not likely to be high on the political agenda at this moment.
“That’s why Holland Group will start with executive search in the higher segment of the labour market, at first mainly for multinationals and Dutch companies operating in Turkey. We aim to offer our clients a wide range of services, from head hunting processes to tailor-made projects covering specific sectors. In the beginning in Istanbul, but later in other major cities all over the country.”
Menses is very optimistic about the opportunities in Turkey for Holland Group. “Ultimately we want our services to cover the entire labour market, from blue collar to white collar and everything in between. We feel we can add significant added value to our clients in helping them to focus on their core business and leave their personnel issues to us. In many sectors of the industry employers will for instance need temporary workers when they are confronted with peak activities. We can take care of the entire HR process, in order for the companies to have their hands free to focus on developing, manufacturing and selling their products.”
Who is Sacha Menses?
Year of birth: 1970
Place of residence: ’s-Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch), the Netherlands (but would not mind relocating to Istanbul)
Education: Dutch Law
Hobbies: Travelling and exploring other cultures, reading, writing, cooking (in particular Indonesian food)
Favorite place in Istanbul: It’s very hard for me to narrow it down to just one place, but if I’d have to choose, I’d say there is no better place to truly appreciate the city’s uniqueness than to view it from the water, especially towards the end of the day when its many monuments bask in the last sunlight. It still takes my breath away after all this time.
Favorite restaurant in Istanbul: Again, tough choice as Istanbul boasts so many fine restaurants that I keep returning to. One of my long-standing favorites is Leb-i-Derya in the Tünel area: good food (a mix of various cuisines), friendly service, not too pricey and most importantly: a view to die for.
Top 3 of both dos and don’ts when it comes to doing business in Turkey
- Don’t think you can just automatically copy & paste any business concept successfully deployed in The Netherlands (or elsewhere for that matter). Instead, be open to slight deviations from the original plan,that take local circumstances into account. Leave your pre-conceived notions on how things should go at home. Western Europeans do have a tendency to display a ‘we know best’ attitude and guess what: it doesn’t work. This goes for doing business in all countries obviously, not just Turkey.
- Don’t have unrealistic time lines. The administrative process especially can take up quite a bit of time in Turkey, so be prepared for this.
- Don’t overdo it with the Dutch habit of being very straightforward and direct, as you can be perceived as being blunt or downright rude. By all means be open and honest and make your expectations clear, but tone the ‘Dutchness’ down a little or you might find yourself ruffling a few feathers.
- Do invest in building personal relationships, as this will open many doors for you that might otherwise remain closed. If you do so, your reward will be greater than just being able to successfully do business, as Turks on the whole make very good friends.
- Do make the effort to learn about Turkish culture and if possible, try your hand at the Turkish language, if only for a bit. Learning about Turkey will not only introduce you to the richness of its culture and history, it will also help you gain a better understanding of your business partners, the business environment and why certain things go the way they go.
- Do enjoy yourself! Turkey is a wonderful country and in spite of the challenges you may encounter, doing business here may turn out to be a more rewarding experience than you imagined. Appreciate what there is to be appreciated instead of putting too much focus on things that don’t go exactly as planned, and you’re in for a good experience.