Inspiring Woman in Fleet: Okşan Öztürk
“There’s still the idea that men know more about cars”
Okşan Öztürk, Managing Partner (Filo Broker)
Ten years ago, Filo Broker launched in Istanbul. The company provides long-term lease consultancy and cost optimization for corporate fleet customers – having managed a total of around 10,000 cars for 50 global customers so far. Filo Broker was founded and is led by two women. Is that remarkable? Perhaps no longer: Turkey, and its fleet industry, have come a long way in terms of gender balance. Nevertheless, “there’s still the idea that men know more about cars”, laughs Okşan Öztürk, one of the company’s two managing partners.
Truth be told, Okşan Öztürk was not a born petrolhead. “In fact, back in 2005, I was eliminated from my first job interview because I didn’t have a driver’s license.”
So how did you end up in this industry?
“I had a lot of experience in sales, and I was headhunted by a fleet leasing company for a sales management position. I didn’t really know the industry, so I did my research. Around that time, vehicle leasing was beginning to get really popular in Turkey. I was excited to be part of that rising trend.”
In Turkey as elsewhere, fleet and leasing is a very male-dominated industry. Did that pose any problems?
“Not at all: I grew up in a male-dominated family (laughs). I have three brothers, lots of male cousins, and my mother taught a lot of boys in school. As a little girl, I had to find a way to blend in, but I never felt left out.”
“I believe in gender equality. By the way, in my family, all women worked. When I started my career in the fleet leasing industry, I knew nothing about cars. That sounds like a risky start, but I soon realized that in fact, it’s an industry that’s all about finance and services. That’s when it clicked.”
"So, all in all, I think this is an industry that is as much suited to women as it is to men. But women do still face a big challenge. If you’re faced with a male customer, there can be trust issues. Then it falls to me – or any other woman in this business – to convince him that we know what we’re talking about. Because there’s still the idea that men know more about cars.”
Does being a woman give you an edge in this industry? Are there things you can do that a male colleague can’t – or perhaps not as well?
“I absolutely think that women have certain advantages in the business world. We’re good at multitasking. We have a good eye for detail. I believe that helps us provide better service. In fact, I believe that multitasking increases our creativity, and if you combine that with detailed work, you can achieve tremendous results.”
Has the gender balance changed a lot since you started in this industry 15 years ago?
“The female share of the workforce is increasing day by day. And not just in this industry, but across the board, in all sectors of business. But especially in sales, sales support, operations, customer service and finance.”
Suppose a CEO you know is doubting whether to hire a woman for an important position. What would you say to him?
“I’d say that, given the opportunity, women will do an excellent job. Even more, I’d say that their output is more reliable in terms of quality and diligence. Give us a challenge, give us a difficult task, and we women will dedicate ourselves to finding a solution, no matter how many hours it takes.”
Now, suppose a woman you know is looking to advance to a more senior position. How would you advise that she do that?
“Work hard, be disciplined and consistent, and do your work with a distinct personal touch. There is a lot of competition out there, so to stand out, make sure you’re fully knowledgeable about your topics. In other words: you must put a lot of effort into searching for information, reading and learning, all by yourself. And finally: be a good observer. Learn from your own actions, and from those of others. Long story short: if you want to be successful, in this business or in another, be extraordinary!”
If you could travel back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice, with the benefit of hindsight, what would it be?
“Don’t be in such a hurry! I wanted to get things done and climb up the ladder so fast. My mistakes come from being impatient. So I would say to my younger self: Take a deep breath, and think before your start!”
When you look back at your career so far, what are you most proud of?
“I feel great pride in the fact that I’ve always had great relationships with my customers. I’ve always made sure that the work I delivered was above standard, and had a personal touch. I like to think that made me stand out, and got me recommended. Personally, I think that’s very important. I’d go so far as to say that to get recommended is my criterium for success.”
"In fact, the most important recognition I’ve received in my work is that I get calls from people I did business with 10 years ago when I was a fleet sales executive. They’re now consulting with me and are becoming customers in our new business. I think that’s just great, because this business is all about building trust, and that’s what’s driving our growth.”
It’s often said that women have a harder time combining work with life than their male colleagues. How do you find it?
“True enough, it’s difficult! I have two small kids, one born just before the pandemic and the other right in the middle of it. However, I believe women are born multitaskers. It’s our superpower. And it’s how I make my problems disappear. Actually, since the birth of my kids, we’ve had the two most successful business years yet. That’s why I believe that raising kids makes you stronger – and that they bring you luck (laughs).”
“However, I should add that having children has also helped me test the boundaries of my patience. At times, it’s very difficult to deal with everything at the same time. However, it helps when you’re organized and disciplined. And if you have a husband who helps – occasionally (laughs).”
Final questions: Who’s your hero? And what’s your motto?
“My eldest brother is my hero. He left home to study at Turkey’s top university and went on to become a successful banker. He’s hard-working and excellent in time management. So I’ve had a chance to learn from a good example. I’m really proud of him, both as a successful businessperson, and as my brother.”
“My other hero is Atatürk, as is the case for most women in Turkey. In 1934, he ensured that women had the right to vote, and be elected. In doing that, he was well ahead of his time. We owe him a lot.”
“My motto? If there’s a problem and it has a solution, there’s no problem. And if there’s a problem without a solution, it’s not really a problem either (laughs).”
|Current fleet size
|Around 2500 cars
|Sales Director in a local fleet leasing company, sales manager in the retail sector, financial advisor in a multinational insurance company
For more portraits and interviews with Inspiring Women in Fleet, click here