From practising Japanese in Salzburg to working in Tokyo
Tarkan set up SKIDATA’s branch office in Turkey with a mentor’s support throughout the process. Now, he optimizes service processes around the world from Grödig.
As SKIDATA searched for someone to set up the company’s branch office in Turkey, Tarkan was an easy choice. He was born in Salzburg, but his family is from Bursa in northwestern Turkey, and he speaks Turkish as well. But Tarkan was hesitant: “I didn’t have the skills of a managing director just yet,” he says in hindsight. “SKIDATA provided me with a mentor who helped me set up the new office in Istanbul for two years.” This helped Tarkan get the necessary know-how for human resources and business management. His mentor was an experienced colleague from Vienna. “SKIDATA is very good at this,” Tarkan explains. “You always have a mentor you can call and consult, even today.”
Tarkan came to SKIDATA in 2002. He had previously completed his studies with a focus on electrical engineering at the HTL Itzling, and he had already worked as a project engineer. At SKIDATA, he started as a Quality Assurance Engineer. “SKIDATA is one of the most appealing companies in Salzburg, with really interesting areas of responsibility and opportunities for further development,” says Tarkan as he explains his career moves. “I wanted to expand my technical knowledge in an international company, and I wanted my contributions to improving products around the world.”
In 2008, Tarkan moved into project management at SKIDATA Austria, where he worked as a Key Account Manager. Tarkan had traveled extensively for the company from Portugal to Kazakhstan. When he was asked in 2014 if he wanted to set up the Istanbul branch, it was a big step for him and his family with two small kids. But the task of building a local branch from scratch was one that appealed to him. “I did everything from finding an office to hiring staff and to the startup itself,” Tarkan says. And it wasn’t just his mentor who helped him along the way.
SKIDATA also offered Tarkan a spot in a management training program that was run internally. Here, (prospective) managers from different countries received intensive training in three modules of three to five days each. “What was particularly special was that we could exchange ideas with our international colleagues. We learned how they approach and solve problems,” says Tarkan. “There’s no shyness about calling someone from another country anymore, so I have my mentor and so many other coaches. That’s really great.”
High As Managing Director and later as Country Manager, Tarkan built a successful team in Turkey that can manage without him today. “Istanbul is a great city, I love Istanbul,” Turkan explains. “But it’s also a hectic, big city and I spent an intense and very busy time there with my family.” In 2020, Tarkan moved back to Austria with his wife and two children. Today, Tarkan is the Manager Operations in Business Process Management, where he leads a team of process experts and IT specialists as they optimize processes specifically within the area of service and project management for the company’s subsidiaries and their managers. His domain expands far beyond Austria—it covers the 27 countries in which SKIDATA has a branch office. “I like working with colleagues from around the world who are all as passionate about what they do, like one big family.”
In contrast to his work at the Istanbul office, everyday life at SKIDATA headquarters is very structured. The dialogue between his superiors and colleagues works well, he says. “The projects and challenges are always interesting and diverse. Though the work demands a lot of us at times, I have the opportunity to constantly develop myself in return and it never gets boring.” And though the company has grown so quickly in recent years, he says the culture and passion at SKIDATA have not suffered despite the rapid growth. “It’s quite the opposite,” he says. “It has enriched us.”
He compares the workplace culture at SKIDATA to that of employers like Google or Apple. “We’re an innovative company that operates around the world,” Tarkan explains. “We are at the forefront of technology, which makes the work much more interesting than implementing changes into a product years after others have, of course. As an engineer or technician, you have the freedom to express yourself and drive innovation.”
In his free time, Tarkan enjoys the beauty and opportunities of his new home in Salzburg. He tries to spend a lot of time with his family, including ice skating, cycling, and hiking. In Istanbul, the four of them often went to the Beşiktaş Istanbul soccer stadium together. “We’re all fans of this traditional soccer club and enthusiastically went to many events while we were in Istanbul,” says Tarkan. His passion is sports. “I like to run in the fresh air, or–if the weather doesn’t cooperate–on an exercise bike.” He has recently rediscovered the beautiful hiking routes in and around Salzburg, and he plans to explore them further this spring. And at night, he looks to the starry sky over Salzburg with his telescope.