EMCC 22nd annual international Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, 19-21 November 2015

By Eve Turner

Cenk Dogru moved delegates to tears with his story of how coaching and mentoring helped soften the blow when vehicle technology multinational Delphi Automotive Systems closed a plant in Turkey.

Dogru was the CEO of three plants in Istanbul, Izmir and Bursa from 2007 to 2014, with a total of 6,000 staff. In his keynote closing the EMCC conference, he said that although these Turkish operations had the best efficiency in Europe, a decision was taken at the US HQ to close the Istanbul plant with the loss of 1,200 jobs due to a “changed global footprint strategy”.

Although he briefly felt the closure decision was unfair, the turnaround for him was summed up by a Turkish saying which, roughly translated, means: “You can ride the camel or leave the land.”

He chose to apply his values and implement the closure according to them. The result was an inspiring ‘success story’ where he and his leadership team built a “dream” about closing day to create value and meaning for all the staff and fully engage them throughout a 12-month period ending in the plant’s closure in December 2013.

Dogru and his leadership team had been developing a coaching culture in the organisation for some years and he became a certified coach in 2012.

In his keynote, he described how he applied a coaching and mentoring approach to a fragile and challenging closure process, which at times created challenges in his own leadership team.

Accepting that staff, their families and customers would go through the change curve, he ensured they felt listened to and appreciated, paying attention to the emotional impact of the closure, and providing coaching and mentoring to staff during the process.

Delegates’ comments ranged from “truly inspirational” to being moved to tears, not just by the story, but by the humility and sensitivity with which it was told and the care he felt for his staff, many of whom he stays in touch with.

Delegates said that while many people talked about creating a coaching culture, Dogru had actually applied it in the most difficult of situations.


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