Bahar Öztürk has a profound passion for supply chain. She has always worked in this field and loves that it involves so many factors to make it a success. Started her career in Toyota as a specialist where she learned lean principles and just in time approach within European operations, she then moved to Caterpillar to lead projects on a more global scale.
She says: “Supply chains can be simply seen as “transferring goods or services from A to B”. But they’re about a lot more than that too. I like that being involved with supply chain involves interaction with people from different teams and groups. It involves many different functions in a business and there is an exciting and complex science behind it. It’s a very cross-functional and very interdependent discipline – and I enjoy this too.”
But Bahar says she wanted to gain a better understanding of the context she was working in – and be able to “join the dots” more to bring even greater value to her customers. So, she decided it was time to get an MBA.
“I was about to take a career break to live in Japan with my family,” she says, “So the online format was a really good option for me.”
LIVING THE online MBA
Bahar has enjoyed the flexibility offered by the online MBA at Vlerick. She’s also found that her fellow participants – who come from all over the world – have provided her with inspiration and support.
She says: “We work together on group assignments. So sometimes I would get up very early – in Japan – to take part. Other times, they would work around my timings. We always managed to find a time that suits everyone.
“Vlerick online tools also make it very easy to take part. We also have discussions offline, or outside the official communications platforms. I’m used to working in remote teams, so I enjoy this, and I look forward to working on the assignments with my new “colleagues”.
“You’re working with people from different backgrounds and part of the challenge is finding a common language and frequencies, so that you can come up with solutions together. It’s a very interesting brain exercise!
When Bahar came back to Europe and finally met some of her fellow participants face-to-face, she says it felt like they had known each other for a very long time.
“Doing your MBA online doesn’t mean you’re on your own,” she says, continuing: “You complete assignments with other programme participants – from all over the world. You get to know each other and help each other. We stay in touch using social media – and I’m sure we’ll support each other throughout our careers.”
Learning on the online MBA
Bahar says that her online MBA has helped her to think differently. She has taken part in assignments which delve deep into corporate social responsibility – showing the delicate balance between profit, people and planet.
She has also enjoyed gaining a much deeper understanding of corporate finance.
She says: “It changes the way you view things. Maybe before, you used Facebook to talk to your friends. But now, I see it in terms of its balance sheets and its strategy. I see it as a business – and you see the business implications in everything.
“The MBA helps me to connect the dots – and also makes me think about how I can bring more value to customers, both internal and external. Everything stimulates new thoughts. For example, from studying marketing, I now think I could use this knowledge to sell an idea more effectively to my boss or to others.”
Bahar says studying leadership has given her new confidence too. She says: “Regardless of the context of your work, what you learn about leadership is relevant to everyone. It’s so interesting to know how to get the most from a team and how to influence and help others.”
Making the leap
When Bahar started the online MBA, she was taking a career break. “Studying helped me stay in touch and remain up to date with business,” she says.
She’s now back at work and loving her role as a project manager at Caterpillar in Belgium... She plans to spend some time getting back into the rhythm of the business, and then over the next couple of years, seek out more responsibilities within Caterpillar.
She says: “Having an MBA will guide me to engage more effectively with senior leadership – and to see things from a more strategic viewpoint. I would like, eventually, to transition to a leadership or upper management role. I believe the MBA will help me to achieve this.
“Taking the MBA is one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
Bahar Öztürk took the leap from supply chain specialist to future executive. She graduated in 2018.