Celebrating the achievements of alumni in Turkey

When outstanding individuals receive a world-class education in the UK, the effects can last a lifetime. The Alumni Awards shine a light on the impact that alumni of UK higher education institutions are making in their chosen field, and the effect of their studies in the UK in this regard. 

There are three award categories: Professional Achievement, Entrepreneurial and Social Impact. 

  • The Professional Achievement Award, recognising UK alumni who have distinguished themselves through exemplary leadership and achievements in their professional field, and who can demonstrate the impact and scale of their achievements, both in their profession and beyond. 
  • The Entrepreneurial Award, recognising UK alumni who initiate or contribute to innovative or creative new ideas, solutions or business opportunities with potential for strong growth.
  • The Social Impact Award, recognising UK alumni who have made exceptional contributions and commitments to the creation of positive social change and improving the lives of others.  

Winning a prestigious Alumni Award can bring such benefits as: 

  • Raising your international profile through the global press and digital coverage 
  • Building your professional networks and business connections 
  • The opportunity to win a professional networking visit to the UK 

Timeline

4 September 2018 
Opening Date for Applications  
28 October 2018 
Deadline for nominations  
11 November 2018  
Closing Date for Applications  
November & December 2018 
Shortlisting of Applicants 
February 2019 
Announcement of Finalists 
14 March 2019 
Announcement of the Turkey Winners  
April 2019 
Global Alumni Award Winners Announced                                                          

The winners were announced at the Awards Ceremony on 14 March 2019. See the photos from the event. 

The winners are:
Professional Achievement Award:  Aysegul Bugra, University of Southampton 
Entrepreneurial Award:                   Mehmet Akalin, University of Sussex
Social Impact Award:                      Didem Tali, London School of Economics

2019 Finalists:

Among the variety of strong applicants, these candidates in particular stood out. Find out what makes their stories unique. Watch the finalists videos in Professional Achievement Award, Entrepreneurial Award and Social Impact Award categories,

Professional Achievement Award finalists

Alper Akar, London Business School 

Alper Akar, as the CFO of ICA, is a concessionaire and investor in the 3rd Bosphorus Bridge and Northern Ring Motorway, has played a crucial role in the development, implementation and successful structuring of one of Turkey’s largest infrastructure projects. The Project not only resolved Istanbul’s long-term chronic Bosphorus crossing problem, but also provided an alternative route between Asia and Europe. The bridge takes up a position as part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, facilitating the continuous flow of goods and services as part of the global logistic network.   

Alper claims that the London Business School provided him not only with qualities and skills vital to leadership and finance, but also an international network for the development of global business opportunities.  

Alper is now making use of his expertise and skills to contribute to the development of economies not only in Turkey, but also the broader region, through his involvement in infrastructure and social public-private-partnership projects.  

Aysegul Bugra, University of Southampton 

Dr. Aysegul Bugra is currently the Director of the Dr. Nüsret-Semahat Arsel International Business Law Research Centre. She is an Assistant Professor in Transport and Insurance Law at Koc University, and an Executive Committee Member of the Turkish Insurance Law Association. Since 2018 she has represented Turkey on the Presidential Council of the International Insurance Law Association. She is currently working to raise awareness of insurance law in Turkey, and to promote international standards in research, teaching and insurance sector practices. 

“I believe that studying at the University of Southampton provided me with flexibility in thinking, the skills to conduct impactful research and the vision to educate students in Turkey with an international perspective.” Aysegul Bugra

Mahir Cipil, London Business School 

Mahir Cipil is a leading insurance sales & marketing executive whose company has grown more than the market average two years in a row, and which has been recognised with a “Top 100 Brands in Turkey” award. He also teaches at Istanbul Bilgi University, and has to date authored five business books. The UK education system influenced his management practices, inspiring him to dream more and execute better.

As he witnessed in the UK, Mahir believes giving back to society really matters. He truly enjoys sharing his experience with his students and readers. Mahir now blends his academic and professional experience break the mould of traditional business dynamics while coming up with new approaches.

Ozan Bahcivan, University of the West of England, Bristol; University of Central Lancashire 

Health Psychologist Ozan Bahcivan has opened his own private practice, named OZ Psikolojik Danismanlik, in Izmir. With the support of the International Psycho-Oncology Society and other local NGOs, Ozan is seeking to improve the provision of psycho-social care for cancer patients and is involved in practice and policy development activities, giving speeches at congresses and attending governmental meetings in Turkey. After completing his PhD, he plans to establish the first formal post-graduate programme in health psychology and to promote psycho-oncology. Ozan says that receiving education in the UK made a big difference for him, allowing him to make use of the latest technologies in the psychology laboratory and high-quality facilities, and with easy access to his tutors. 

Entrepreneurial Award Finalists

Duygu Aktas, Cardiff Metropolitan University (Prifysgol Metropolitan Caerdydd) 

Duygu Aktas leads Turkey’s only Women Entrepreneurs Programme in the e-commerce sector. After making contact with over 3,000 women in just 19 months, she recently started a nationwide project entitled “Women have a Say in E- Commerce”, in cooperation with Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Commerce. Under the project, women are able to sell their goods tax-free through e-commerce channels. Duygu is now eager to take the project to the 81 cities in Turkey and to continue her e-commerce seminars and trainings, while “training trainers” to ensure the continuation of this milestone project. Cardiff Metropolitan University offered her an open-minded, diverse learning environment that aided her in her endeavours to become part of the lives of hundreds of women. 

“Cardiff Metropolitan University offered me an open minded, diverse learning environment that now I am benefiting from in becoming part of hundreds of women’ lives and eagerly opened businesses.” Duygu Aktas 

Hasan Anil Eken, University of Leeds; University of Manchester  

After graduating from two universities from the UK, Hasan Anıl Eken joined Escuela Real Madrid where he launched a project to save football player’s lives on the field through education, improved techniques and future drone-ambulances. The project was given the name “Eken’g Rule” (in memory of Cameroonian national football team player Patrick Ekeng, who lost his life after suffering a cardiac arrest on the field) and was pitched to FIFA. Over 800 articles were written about the project in the global media. After joining Octagon, the world’s largest sports, marketing and sponsorship agency, which has revenues of 142m USD, Hasan launched his own company, called iHuntTalents, which is focused on developing academy players to the top level in Europe. His most recent success story is Yunus Akgun, who now plays for Galatasaray. 

Mehmet Akalin, University of Sussex 

Mehmet Akalin was the first Turkish associate on the Techstars Europe team and was previously a director of the most active Angel investment company in Turkey. Mehmet is well-known for his contributions to the Turkish Internet start-up ecosystem. He has launched an international acceleration program and has represented Turkey in many global institutions. He has aided 23 Turkish start-ups in obtaining funding and growing their companies in the global markets. Mehmet recently decided to launch his own start-up, making use of his global experience to create the next big Internet company in Turkey. He believes the University of Sussex helped him to build an international network encompassing Turkey and many other countries. Studying in the United Kingdom taught him how to work with people from diverse backgrounds. 

Social Impact Award Category

Banu Pekol, Courtauld Institute of Art 

In 2014, Banu Pekol co-founded an NGO inspired by SAVE (UK) with the purpose of preserving at-risk cultural heritage in Turkey. In partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage, she conceived a project that won a £1.3 million grant from the British Council Cultural Protection Fund. Banu is also co-founder of Europa Nostra-Turkey and board-member of Karakutu. A member of the Global Diplomacy Lab and the BMW Responsible Leaders Forum, Banu hopes to encourage more people to get involved in identifying and preserving global cultural heritage, and also to continue her work in cultural diplomacy. Banu’s UK education inspired her in her individual growth and taught her discipline, leading her to graduate as a well-rounded young woman with high self-esteem. 

Didem Tali, London School of Economics 

Didem Tali is an award-winning multimedia journalist who has to date worked with numerous news outlets, including NYTimes.com, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, BBC, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Irish Times, National Public Radio, The Washington Post and VICE, among others. She has reported from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America, with particular focus on gender, human rights and development issues.  

In 2018, she was the recipient of the Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Prize, awarded by the United Nations Correspondents Club in New York, and has been recognised with many other prestigious journalism awards. 

Didem is currently focusing on longer term projects in collaboration with National Geographic and other high-profile media outlets. Her most recent documentary about a women’s wheelchair basketball team from Cambodia is currently in post-production. She is also working now on other documentaries and a creative non-fiction series about the journey of a transgender beauty queen from Istanbul, and the all-woman space program in Kyrgyzstan that is working to launch the country’s first satellite. She is also finding time to work on her first book and is hoping to obtain literary representation in 2019. 

Elif Kalan, London School of Economics and Political Science 

Elif Kalan is a consultant working in conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Turkey and has been engaged with social groups (especially young people) from diverse disadvantaged backgrounds. With the support of her professor at Sabanci University, she initiated a training programme on “Conflict Resolution for Negotiation and Mediation”, and has launched Peace Education and Youth for Peace Trainings in Turkey. Elif is now deepening her expertise and skills in gender- and youth-specific refugee response programs with the goal of turning around local community-based conflicts. She is also supporting a women mediators’ network and is carrying her expertise in the strengthening of women’s groups to her mediation works. 

“Studying political sociology at LSE enabled me understanding critical discussions, sociological development and different perspectives from society and state in a much comprehensive and critical way.” Fatma Elif Kalan

Feyza Başar, King’s College London 

Dr Feyza Basar studied for her LL.M degree in European Law at King’s College London with the support of the Jean Monnet Scholarship Programme of the European Commission in 2004–2005. In 2007, she returned to King’s College as a one-year PhD researcher funded by the Chevening Scholarship Programme.  

Feyza is an assistant professor of law at Istanbul Gedik University, specialising in EU law, sports law, and human and children’s rights, and is the director of the EU Research Centre of the same university. She also presides over the Avrupa Forumu Dernegi (European Forum Association), which she established to support EU-Turkey relations in 2009. The Avrupa Forumu Dernegi is an associate member of the European Forum Alpbach, based in Austria, which is an interdisciplinary platform with focus of science, politics, business and culture. Since 2017, Feyza has been working for Act.NOW, based in Vienna, in which she acts as an advisor to the mayors of cities hosting large numbers of refugees in the world, and as a member of the Gender Equality Working Group of the same institution. 

She is keen to develop and be part of new projects to better protect the rights of children around the world and to build a better future for them through her academic studies, as well as her public/social voluntary works.  

“King's College and the multi-cultural city of London provided me with the ability to think beyond national borders, to develop solutions to common problems and to work with the utmost commitment.” Feyza Basar 

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