In an industry that is still very male-dominated, Leyla Alaton, President of Alvimedica and Board Member of Alarko Holding, one of the largest business conglomerates in Turkey, discusses the challenges still facing women in wealth influence.
In my corporate experience, women are usually a minority in meetings, especially the higher you rise in a corporation. Women are always alone in a business setting, they are not part of the club, and so they often feel out of place and somewhat misunderstood. It’s challenging, and it’s lonelier the higher you rise, but that is why women need to get stronger and be more assertive. But let me emphasise that ‘assertive’ does not mean ‘aggressive’.
It’s all very well to say “be strong”, but it involves much more than that. Practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better you become, and you have to practice this a lot more than others, and with your contrasting approaches, ideas and views, I think you come to be more respected and accepted. I think women can contribute a different point of view, a different form of thinking, and we tend to have a Plan B and a Plan C. Therefore, we are respected, and we add to the mix. We see more women today at the decision-making level of corporations, and they are becoming more successful. The numbers show it.
The importance of role models
Role models are very important, and that is why I am out here, trying to inspire other young women. My role models were mostly from the States where I studied. I went to the American Women Economic Development Conference, where there were many wonderful speakers with an audience 3000-strong, and all women. I found a lot of my role models there. They inspire you, and get you thinking, “If they can do it, why can’t I?”
Mentoring is also crucial to passing on experience to the next generation. I do a lot of mentoring, to men and women – I don’t differentiate – and I am a founding partner of the Women Entrepreneur’s Association, so I do a lot of talks for Turkish women. I am committed to talking to all of these people so that I can share what I know and inspire others. In terms of my inspiration, there were a lot of women in the States who inspired me.
The future for women in wealth is bright
The accumulation of wealth is a fairly recent thing and now women can begin thinking about where to invest intelligently. But I do see that there are a lot of women entrepreneurs, and so if they sell their companies they can then perhaps look at investing that money. Now the ecosystem is there, it is developing very quickly. Especially women in tech, who develop applications or eCommerce sites, those are the ones who are developing very fast. I think they are the ones who will be leading in the future.
That said, I wouldn’t say there is anything different for women. Money has no sex, no gender, and neither do ideas. They can only be good or bad, profitable or not.
About the author
Leyla Alaton, President of Alvimedica and Board Member of Alarko Holding. You can listen to the full interview from the WBAF Annual Congress 2018 here – http://www.wbaf2018.istanbul/video-2018/