About Me

Birsen Çevik Akgünlü

I am from Tekirdağ and grew up among teachers, as the child of a teacher couple. Today’s Birsen is built upon the teachings of my teachers and the books they shared with me.

Therefore, my greatest passion is learning new things by reading, listening, traveling, experiencing, and sharing `My Learnings` with others…

I am a big believer of solidarity and sisterhood, and I have always admired brave, determined, creative and big-hearted women. Since my university years, I have taken part in various projects regarding women’s participation and retention in the workforce. I am a founding member of Professional Women Network (PWN) Istanbul.


I came to Istanbul in 1991 to study at Boğaziçi University, Department of Economics. After graduation, I started working in the PricewaterhouseCoopers Human Resources (HR) department. After 2 years, I moved to Hewlett Packard.

In 2001, I joined the ‘start-up’ team of British American Tobacco (BAT) during its entry into the Turkish market. During my 15 years at BAT, I had the opportunity to lead the company from 25 employees to 1,500.

During the establishment of the company, I gained valuable experience in different areas such as creating HR processes and systems from scratch, establishing and developing a field structure where sales-distribution will be directly managed, change management of Tekel tobacco privatization and overseas experience in BAT Hungary. Thanks to these experiences, I was selected as one of Turkey’s 50 most effective HR Directors by Fortune in 2017.

In 2016, I decided that I had completed my mission at BAT and moved to PepsiCo Turkey and worked for 2 years. However, the Tekel legacy called me back and I switched to Mey|Diageo in April 2018.

I currently lead the HR Agenda of Diageo Northern Europe. As the NE Leadership Team, we build on our legacy by creating a `Winning and Inclusive Culture` that inspires our people to be at their best. We operate in 11 countries in Northern Europe: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

In my previous role in Diageo, I led ‘Mey|Diageo Transformation’ together with the Diageo Turkey Leadership Team.

I am a believer in lifelong studentship. I completed Via Academy’s Certified Art Therapy training. I completed TPC Leadership Turkey’s ICF ACTP Certified Coaching and EMCC Foundation and Practitioner Certified Coaching and Mentoring programs.

In these days, my biggest inspiration and new teacher is my daughter Bade 🙂