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Meet Esra Baykal

DEMBA Global Women's Leadership Scholar tells us about life at Cass

by Amy Ripley (Senior Communications Officer)

Esra Baykal is the Dubai EMBA Global Women's Leadership Scholar at Cass Business School and a supply chain specialist who has worked for IKEA more than five years. A Chemical Engineering graduate from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey, Ankara, Esra grew up and studied in both the eastern and western parts of Turkey.  In 2016 she moved to Dubai to gain international experience and develop her personal and professional skills.

What was it like growing up in Turkey?

“I moved around with my father’s job a lot so I lived and studied in both the eastern and western parts of Turkey which were very different.  It was a great experience, since the country has such a variety of cultural and educational differences.  It gave me the ability to adapt to a variety of conditions and cultures.”

Can you tell us about your career so far?

“I am a supply chain specialist at IKEA’s Middle East Logistics Hub in Dubai.  During my five years with IKEA, I have worked in the Quality, Supply Chain and Sustainability departments which has enabled me to understand different aspects of the business and interact with different suppliers and stores within Europe, South East Asia and the Gulf Cooperation Council.  I have also led IKEA social engagement projects in Turkey.”

What made you decide to study for an MBA at Cass?

“Until now, I saw the different angles of doing business from an operational level.  I chose to do an MBA to gain a strategic and financial view to combine with my experience in different operations.  I also wanted to extend my international network outside of my own company to exchange ideas and learn about other ways of doing business.  The blend of students from different sectors and cultures makes Cass Business School the right place to do this.  At the same time, being awarded the Cass Global Women’s Leadership Scholarship made my dream a reality.”

How are you finding it?

“After meeting with all my colleagues from different backgrounds in a welcoming atmosphere and learning more about the global presence of the school I am glad that I chose Cass Business School.  I am so excited about the programme and looking forward for the modules.”

What or who inspires you in your career?

“My first manager who has made great contributions in the sustainability field inspired me during my first years of my career and taught me to value sustainability within business. On a global scale, Melinda Gates’ career in technology as a woman and her impact on the society through social engagement programmes have been a big influence on me.  In my personal life, my grandmother and mother-in-law are great women who have incredible career and life stories; they are role models for me every day.

“I have been already introduced to powerful women through Cass Business School and The Coca Cola Foundation – and I believe there will be many more role models for me to meet!”

What advice would you give other women from non-business backgrounds considering the EMBA at Cass?

“I believe that increasing women’s presence in leadership roles in business and politics will not only contribute to their individual life standards but also will have an enormous positive impact on society.  Knowing such responsibility, my suggestion to women from non-business backgrounds is to be confident to seek all opportunities to develop themselves. I think the Cass MBA is great opportunity for all women from different backgrounds to do this.”

Where would you like to be in the future – and how do you think your MBA will help you get there?

“I love making tangible contribution to other people’s lives and having a direct impact on their quality of life is one of the key motivators for my life.  For example, during my assessments of IKEA suppliers in the Middle East part of Turkey, I saw many of the challenges that women face in their working lives and helped suppliers to overcome those challenges by establishing working routines and processes which had direct impact on the working conditions over more than 1000 women in Turkey.

“My plan for the future is to reshape my career based on my motivation to help and support other people.  For example, I would like to join a women’s empowerment organisation which works closely with women in rural areas, educating them about family violence and working closely with women in need.”

Find out more about the Cass Global Women's Leadership Programme here.

Esra with two of the other three Global Women Scholars; L-R: Esra Baykal, Renee Kroner and Kylie Poole

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