20 November 2015

Destiny? Determination?

By Birsen Çevik Akgünlü

In this article, I would like to introduce you to Ulaş (left) and Arda (right)… Their story impressed me from the first moment I heard it. It is possible to call Ulaş and Arda ‘partners in destiny’. On the other hand, while weaving the webs of fate, they personally and decisively threw the most critical stitches. How? Let me tell you…

Ulaş Elçi was born in Diyarbakır. When he was three years old, his parents moved to Istanbul and settled in Maltepe because they wanted to offer their child a better future. And they gave all the support they could for Ulaş’s education. Ulaş manages to become the pride of the family. After graduating from Maltepe Ertuğrul Gazi High School, he starts to study Economics at Muğla University. He meets his wife at the university.

Arda İğneci was born in Adana. He grows up as a mischievous, handful child among 12-13 cousins in a crowded family apartment. After primary school, he attended the Private Gönen High School. He plays basketball very well. He was even selected for the Fenerbahçe team, but his mother didn’t want him to go… He attended Adana Anatolian High School and met his wife in the first year of high school. He studied economics at Muğla University.
Fate weaves its web….

Arda and Ulaş’s story starts on the second day of school and continues in the same barracks…

They end up in the same room in the dormitory and become very good friends from the first moment. In their second year at university, they move in together. They get along very well as flatmates and live in the same house for three years.

During his studies, Ulaş goes to America for 3 months with Work & Travel. He both works and improves his English. After his return, he took the exam for the Erasmus student exchange programme but was shortlisted. Ulaş, who had set his mind on Erasmus, begged and pleaded with the programme officer, finally convinced him and went to Slovakia for three and a half months.
Meanwhile, Arda, who graduated, decides to do his military service. He is appointed as a long term reserve officer. He first goes to Tuzla and then to Cyprus. And who does he meet one day in the barracks? Ulaş!!! By pure chance, Ulaş was also assigned to Cyprus and even to Arda’s company among more than thirty barracks there! They spend the last 5 months of their military service together 🙂

Creating alternatives in career path…

After the military service, Ulaş returns to Istanbul to his family. Arda also settles in Istanbul and they start looking for a job… Both of them want to work in areas such as banking, finance, foreign trade, accounting. They resolutely follow the job adverts in this field, share them with each other and make plenty of job interviews. However, they cannot find a job opportunity that both appeals to them and is suitable for them. The most important barrier is their lack of work experience…
One day they see BAT’s Sales Representative advertisement. There is no experience requirement. They think, ‘I wonder if we should apply? They worry whether we will deviate from our goal, but finally they decide to apply;

  • Ulaş thinks that he can move to the finance department after proving himself in sales.
  • Arda, on the other hand, believes that many doors will open for him after he learns the business in field sales (in the kitchen) in an international company.
  • With excitement and enthusiasm, they prepare for job interviews and take exams.
  • And in July 2011, they both started to work in the same company!!!

Arda works in the Istanbul Europe Regional office close to his home in Beylikdüzü and Ulaş works in the Istanbul Asia Regional office close to his home in Maltepe.

Ulaş is successfully working as a sales representative, but he still has his main goal in mind, which is finance. He is chasing opportunities that will open the way for internal transfer. In his 5th month in sales, when he learns that a colleague from Asia Regional Accounting is pregnant, he decides to volunteer to cover her role during her maternity leave. She reaches out to the manager of that role and is accepted as a temporary staff member. She makes a difference with her high performance in this role. After her temporary assignment, she is promoted and assigned to the Sales Finance role at the Head Office.

Arda has been working successfully as a sales representative for two years and receives positive feedback from his managers. He is training and developing himself for a higher position in his sales career. One day Ulaş calls him and mentions that there is an open position in the finance department. He says that he thinks Arda will be preferred because of his sales experience and that he can be a reference if he is interested. Arda is a bit confused, takes the opinion of his managers and decides to apply. At the end of the selection process, he is successful and is promoted and assigned to his new role.

Two friends start working side by side in the Finance department!!! With their perseverance, hard work and solidarity, they have made their dreams come true…

Isn’t it a beautiful story? As I listened to them, I smiled from time to time, and from time to time I got into thoughts. ‘Fate’? ‘Determination’? Or both?

Stitches thrown together in the webs of fate…

– So what is the secret of this deep friendship?

”We are very similar to each other. We can communicate without speaking. We are both very curious. We like to push our limits and learn new things.
We enjoy being together very much. We are both optimistic. We don’t get obsessed with negativity. We are very patient. We are not aggressive, angry. We laugh a lot together.
Instead of competing with each other, we support each other. Our competition is only in Play Station 🙂 We also get along well about football, we are Galatasaray fans!
We are both very fond of our families. Our spouses get along well, we spend pleasant time together. Our mums and dads have contributed a lot. They have always believed in us, supported us and provided us with the opportunities they had. We are grateful to them.”

– Don’t you have any disagreements or dissimilarities?

”Of course there are. For example, Ulaş has no concept of time. He comes late everywhere. That’s why I always tell him the meeting time earlier :)”
Arda loves luxury. Even if he doesn’t have money in his pocket, he is so comfortable. He makes fun of me because he thinks you’re too poor 🙂 ”

– What are your future goals?

We have achieved many things that we wish we could do. As we saw that we could achieve, we started to say that we can do better. We don’t put limits on ourselves anymore.

I enjoyed chatting with dear Arda and Ulaş so much that I could write for pages. But what impressed me the most:

  • They recognised the value of the beautiful things life offered them and embraced them with four hands.
  • They have become true friends, always supporting each other instead of competing.
  • They have clearly defined what they want, and they have shown the flexibility to change course when necessary and utilise opportunities.
  • They are incredibly open to learning and see gaining new experiences not as a waste of time but as an investment in themselves.
  • With their good hearts, smiling faces and humour, they constantly spread positive energy around them.

Dear Arda and Ulaş, I am very lucky to know you, always stay like this. May your energy and friendship last forever!

Birsen Çevik Akgünlü

20 November 2015