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Ebru Demirel: first woman on the FIDI Board

Jul 22, 2013
Ebru Demirel became the first ever female FIDI Board member at the FIDI conference in Athens. After over 60 years many would say “about time too”. Steve Jordan caught up with her to discuss her work in the industry and her thoughts on taking up her new role.

Ebru Demirel runs, Asya Nakliyat International Movers in Turkey, with her two sisters Hülya and Banu. The company was started in 1963 by her father, Ilhan but the girls were being groomed to take over the company from an early age.  “Our father never put us under any pressure to join the company,” Ebru explained, “it was always our choice.”  Nevertheless they did prepare well for a lifetime in an international business: all studying English at school; Hülya also learning Italian; Ebru, German; and Banu, French.


Their father has always worked at the company’s Ankara office.  Ebru moved from Ankara to Istanbul in 1996 and now takes care of relocations; Banu also made the move to Istanbul four years ago to run the fine arts division; and Hülya, who has now been in the industry for 21 years, joined her sisters three years ago to handle the moving side of the business.


Ebru and her sisters have achieved success in what is undoubtedly a male-dominated industry.  But she does not believe that it has been a disadvantage, on the contrary, there have been some benefits. “Some think managing high-level negotiations as a female is difficult but I think this is not the case.  If you have an opportunity you either take it or you don’t.  Don’t blame anyone else. Being a female in the moving industry has many advantages.  The boss of the house is usually a woman so it’s easier to maintain a close contact.  HR and the relocation industry is mainly female.  There is no excuse for a woman not getting on in this industry. In many cases, being a woman has helped me.” 

Speaking about taking up her role as a FIDI Board member, Ebru said that she was very honoured to be elected. “Even to be nominated is something special,” she said.  “It is something I never expected or even dreamed of.  I love the business and dealing with friends.  It’s a big family I think. I am really excited and I hope to do something useful during my term on the Board.”

One hot potato at FIDI that Ebru will be walking straight into is the changes to FAIM under FAIM 3.0 and the adoption of the slow payers list as a way of maintaining financial discipline within the membership. Although many have expressed reservations about whether companies will be prepared to report slow payers (as they might also be their best customers), Ebru has little doubt that the scheme will work.  “I have made the mistake of not reporting slow payers in the past and lost money as a result.  It’s not my money it belongs to all of us in the company.  It’s part of my job to protect that money.” However she does acknowledge that good communication should be the first course of action.  “If we do it in the right way, trying one-to-one contact first, I think people will do it. People need to understand that this is the rule.  We appreciate the business but we need to get paid too.”

At 41 years old Ebru said that she still has the energy and enthusiasm to play an important role at FIDI while still maintaining her responsibilities at her company.  She is also lucky in having her two sisters to back her and, perhaps, take up the slack if necessary.  But she still knows that the work at FIDI will be tough.  “Nothing is for free. We have to work hard on this to continue its success.” 

Now that Ebru is on the FIDI Board there is a chance that, in years to come, she will become FIDI’s first woman president.  For now she’s not speculating:  “I come from a small company.  There are many people on the Board from much larger companies with greater responsibilities than I have.  For now I am just extremely honoured to be on the Board.  For the future, we’ll just have to wait and see.”


Photo:  Ebru Demirel

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