The Inspiration Behind Pursuing an EMBA: Suner’s Journey from Coca-Cola & Microsoft to the Telecom Industry

Suner Evren, an accomplished professional who started his career in Turkey with Coca-Cola and PwC, chose to enhance his skills through SP Jain Global’s Executive MBA in 2021.

Discover how Suner’s decision to enrol in the EMBA program empowered him to understand the intricacies of business, make informed decisions, adopt a strategic approach to his career, and explore career growth, work-life balance, leadership, and more.

Could you take us through your personal and professional journey?

My professional journey commenced during my university years when I was expected to work as an intern for 15 days during the summer of 2003. 

After a rigorous screening process, I was selected by the Coca-Cola Corp, Turkey office. However, my dedication during that time impressed them so much that they extended an offer for me to stay the entire summer. Those three months were a transformative learning experience for me. Upon completing my studies, I fulfilled my mandatory military service before subsequently joining Microsoft. This 20-month tenure with the company taught me a lot about professional life. 

Later, in September 2007, I transitioned to PWC Turkey. Although my time there was relatively short, lasting only six months, an exciting opportunity arose at Turbonet, a newly-established Telecom Operator in Turkey. Their innovative approach to the industry enticed me, despite the challenges associated with transitioning from a large corporate environment to a startup culture. I worked with them for nearly 40 months before taking the next step. 

At the beginning of 2011, I accepted an offer from a reputable Saudi telecom company and started working for them. Eventually, in 2013, after I completed a couple of successful projects with them as their vendor, they decided to offer me a head count. Throughout those nine years, we achieved significant milestones together. However, at the end of 2022, I felt it was time for a new chapter and transitioned to A10 Networks as a sales consultant. Currently, I hold that position with great passion and dedication.

Speaking about my personal life, I am a private individual who cherishes quality time with my beloved wife and children. I love engaging in activities like jogging, walking, and playing basketball. Moreover, playing soccer with my son and watching him develop his techniques is also an activity that brings me lots of joy.

Whenever I find a moment to spare, I indulge in reading about politics, history, and old civilisations and keep up with the latest technological advancements as it aligns with my professional routine. 

What inspired you to pursue an Executive MBA? How has it impacted your career in the Telecom industry?

Throughout my educational journey, my focus predominantly revolved around technical studies and engineering. However, working with Turbonet, I delved into the intricacies of the business realm. Later, with STC, this experience started growing exponentially. 

Nevertheless, I recognised a vital missing piece in my experience—an academic foundation in business. While I possessed knowledge, I yearned for a comprehensive understanding that would effortlessly connect the dots for me. Thus, the decision to pursue an Executive MBA program emerged, offering a meticulously crafted curriculum that could fortify my proficiency in business administration.

The program allowed me to know myself better, empowering me to make informed decisions and adopt a more strategic approach to my career and personal sphere. It triggered me to think about things I had previously overlooked as insignificant, and I started asking more strategic questions about myself. Moreover, it instilled within me confidence that as long as I am passionate, no goal is beyond my reach. 

How did you discover SP Jain’s EMBA? Why did you choose this program from the many other available options?

My introduction to SP Jain’s EMBA program was serendipitous, prompted by a recommendation from a close friend pursuing the same program. I studied the program’s curriculum and structure, engaged in a meeting with the school’s marketing department to gain firsthand insights, and sought the feedback of current students, which solidified my decision to embark on this educational endeavour.

Compared to other programs, EMBA is the most comprehensive and well-tailored one. Moreover, ELO was the biggest differentiator for me. Unlike other online programs that imposed mandatory campus attendance for some days, SP Jain Global’s EMBA offered a seamless virtual learning experience. 

Would you like to tell us about your current role as a Senior Network Engineer at Saudi Telecom Company?

Around six months ago, I started working as a Sales Consultant at A10 Networks. In this capacity, my primary objective is to drive regional sales figures and support our Regional Sales Director. 

Our core focus lies in offering cutting-edge technology solutions to the IT industry. It marked my inaugural foray into the realm of sales organisations. Encouraged by my studies in sales management, I made a decision to seize this opportunity, realising the impact it could have on my career trajectory.

Reflecting on my previous position, it is essential to acknowledge the peculiarities of expatriate roles within local companies in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Telecom Company adhered to a traditional framework that did not accurately reflect the true nature of responsibilities for non-Saudi employees. Basically, I was an integral member of a task force entrusted with advising the General Manager and Vice President of the Operations sector. 

However, my actual role, which transcended the confines of my designated title, was to support executive-level decisions given every day. I was one of the sought-after experts, routinely consulted to contribute technical and business insights concurrently.

So, pursuing EMBA at SP Jain Global enhanced my efficacy in day-to-day engagements. It improved my decision-making skills and helped me become a better professional in the workplace.

What are some of the key leadership skills required to succeed in the Telecom industry, and how can executives in this field continue to develop these skills?

First, the telecom sector is related to technology. So, any leader should familiarise themselves with the fundamentals of this industry. Those lacking this fundamental knowledge, despite having a background in marketing, sales, or finance, often find themselves ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of the industry’s technological landscape.

Second, the telecom industry is very dynamic and fast-paced. Successful leaders must foster a culture of innovation to stay one step ahead of evolving customer demands. They should adopt a change-oriented mindset. 

Thirdly, the Telecom industry’s core focus is providing services to the masses. Therefore, a service-oriented leadership approach is imperative. Leaders must prioritise a customer-centric mindset, consistently considering and addressing customer demands in their business orientations for sustained success.

Fourthly, the telecom industry requires leaders to have exceptional program management skills. They must seamlessly collaborate with both technical and non-technical teams, serving as the link that supports necessary investments and the successful launch of anticipated services. 

Lastly, a solid financial understanding is indispensable for telecom industry leaders. Given the industry’s reliance on timely CAPEX investments, leaders must make prudent financial decisions, balancing judicious spending and avoiding unnecessary frugality. Balancing financial considerations becomes a critical measure of profitability for a telecom company.

What industries and experiences did your batch mates come from? How did this in-class diversity help enhance your learning experience?

My batch mates come from diverse industries, including petrochemical, aviation, construction, FMCG, information technology, and many more. It allowed us to take advantage of their experiences. Eventually, management is about people, and most of the practices are similar regardless of the industry. 

However, reaching this judgement requires actively listening to the multitude of voices stemming from various industries. Eventually, being in such a diversified class allowed me to collect enough input for myself and expand my knowledge beyond my own industry. 

Did the Problems at Work approach help you professionally?

The Problems at Work approach had a profound impact on my professional development. Learning about diverse practices and innovative solutions offered by professionals from various industries expanded our horizons, allowing us to start thinking out of the box and generate new approaches for our day-to-day business challenges.

For instance, once we were looking to optimise the OPEX cost of our current vendor engagements. One approach was to choose only one for each domain, reduce the number of suppliers and eliminate oversizing of the managed service vendors. In our Operations Management class, one of our classmates talked about a streamlined vendor selection process and how it helped them save around 25% of their OPEX cost annually. 

While the discussion was about the construction industry, it was clear that we could apply it to the telecom sector as well. Eventually, through rigorous evaluation and adjustments, we achieved an astonishing 35% annual reduction in OPEX costs. This fresh perspective allowed us to tackle complex business issues in an ever-evolving landscape.

Do you have any advice for professionals in Telecom Industry who wish to pursue an EMBA program? How can they make the most of their SP Jain journey?

My foremost advice is to carefully select a program that offers a comprehensive understanding of Business Administration. SP Jain Global’s EMBA, in particular, stands out for providing a panoramic view of every facet of the business landscape, extending far beyond sales, marketing or finance. Professionals should choose a program that delves into operations management, HR practices, leadership skills, cross-cultural challenges, change management, innovation practices, strategic thinking, and more.

Secondly, I highly recommend professionals embark on their EMBA journey as early as possible. It will grant them a significant competitive advantage within their workplaces. Possessing both technical expertise and a deep understanding of business principles, they will distinguish themselves from their peers. SP Jain Global’s EMBA will fundamentally alter their outlook, allowing them to approach their daily activities from a fresh perspective and strategically position themselves within their organisations.

How can SP Jain support individuals in achieving these goals? The answer is clear. This comprehensive program would enable candidates to develop a 360-degree view of Business Administration. It also equips participants with diverse skills and builds their knowledge in both soft skills and core business competencies.

Click here to read more stories from SP Jain’s EMBA students and alumni.

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