Talking Turkey with USD School of Business students

Jun 13
2013

Protestors in Taksim Square in Istanbul on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 (Ataturk Cultural Center in background)

Protestors in Taksim Square in Istanbul on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 (Ataturk Cultural Center covered in banners)

USD School of Business students, Vince Castillo (MBA) and Gina Stavrakakis (IMBA) are currently in Istanbul, Turkey doing an internship project through the Ahlers Center on international business development strategy. I’ll just let Vince and Gina tell you about it in these excerpts from their emails from Istanbul.

“Gina and I started working for Alvimedica this week here in Istanbul. It’s been an interesting experience overall, but the last 24 hours have been particularly exciting. The office is just south of Taksim Square where the protests have been taking place for the last two weeks. Our apartment is just north of Taksim so we have to walk through the square each morning.

Taksim Square empty after security forces clashed with protestors on June 12, 2013

Taksim Square empty after security forces clashed with protestors on June 12, 2013

 

“One of the symbols of the protests is the Ataturk Cultural Center; the PM wants to tear it down and build a mosque, but the people oppose it because they are rejecting his increasingly non-secular government. Protecting the building is just one of the demands that the protestors are making. Here’s a picture of the Center that I took last Tuesday (June 4), and again this morning (Wednesday, June 12) on the way into the office. There is such a stark contrast between the energetic celebrations of last week and the bleak state of mind now. It’s rainy and dreary today; a reflection of the protestors’ mood.

“We’re working with John Kucuk, MSGL ’08, to refine and continue to develop Alvimedica’s US and Canadian market entrance strategy. Our focus is building preliminary operations and supply chain models and positioning the company for future business opportunities.  It’s been both fascinating and challenging so far but we’ve been slightly constricted by the protests in Taksim Square. In fact, we were given two days off this week because of the clashes on Tuesday, June 11th and the resulting uncertainty of the situation.  We’ve taken necessary precautions and are being quite vigilant. However, we’re definitely safe and not taking any undue risks.

“Well I think it goes without saying, but our internship experience thus far has probably been one of the more eventful ones of the lot. I’m extremely grateful to have gotten this opportunity through the USD SBA and the MBA program.” [Vince Castillo]

USD students, Vince Castillo (MBA) and Gina Stavrakakis (IMBA) at Alvimedica manufacturing facility

USD students, Vince Castillo (MBA) and Gina Stavrakakis (IMBA) at Alvimedica manufacturing facility

And this from Gina about their work with Alvimedica:

“Last Thursday we got to tour the production facility in Catalca, Turkey with the entire group.  It was great to be able to observe and learn about the manufacturing before coming in to the office.  Technically, our first day was Monday the 10th when we came in and met everyone, went to lunch and had a pretty typical first day.  On our second day, Tuesday, however, we encountered the beginnings of what would become an hours-long altercation between protestors and riot police at Taksim Square.  We walk through the Square to get to work and, when we arrived, we saw plumes of tear gas at the other end of the park and decided we should take a sick day.

“So today, Thursday, we have had a meeting about our project with John [Kucuk], and we get to meet and scope it over the next couple of days.  They have built a solid foundation and it’s a great time for us to come in and put some structure to the strategy with our prior skill, experience and knowledge of the US market.  It’s all very exciting and I think we are both looking forward to it!” [Gina Stavrakakis]



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