Alumni

Alumni profile - Mert Ergörün

After completing my master’s degree in Business Finance, I came back to Turkey to run our family business which was focused on manufacturing of pharmaceuticals for animal healthcare. One year later, due to some industry related reasons, we have sold our shares in the company and that was a turning point in my life. As I had spent one year in QMUL and been exposed to its multicultural and diverse environment, the most important thing for me was to work in a place in which I could have the chance to communicate with people from different cultures.

 

(Business Finance MSc, 2013)

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Can you tell me about Smartcon Consulting & Sourcing?

Smartcon Consulting & Sourcing is newly established venture, serving its clients by being the reliable sourcing partner for the building materials manufactured in Turkey, with promising quality and reasonable prices. Its aim is to contribute its clients’ success by bringing hassle-free and cost-effective solutions combined of manufacturer monitoring, quality inspection, freight coordination and operational tracking. It is dedicated to being the “smart” sourcing partner for its clients by making life easier for them.

Additionally, it offers range of marketing consulting services to assist its clients keep track on their path to success. Smartcon identifies commercial opportunities in new markets and provide a tailor-made market entry strategy, taking specific locations, demographics and populations into consideration.

Can you tell me a bit about your journey from finishing your Masters to founding Smartcon?

After completing my master’s degree in Business Finance, I came back to Turkey to run our family business which was focused on manufacturing of pharmaceuticals for animal healthcare. One year later, due to some industry related reasons, we have sold our shares in the company and that was a turning point in my life. As I had spent one year in QMUL and been exposed to its multicultural and diverse environment, the most important thing for me was to work in a place in which I could have the chance to communicate with people from different cultures.

At the end of the day, what really matters is whether you have left a good mark and made your client satisfied. It is also scientifically proven that maintaining and developing your current customer base is much more cost effective than finding new clients.

I started working for an International Language School’s Ankara branch as a Sales Coordinator. During this position, I once again came to stay in the UK for three weeks to lead a group of young students during their language education in Bournemouth. Later, I worked for Mesa, one of the largest group of companies in Turkey, mainly specialized in contracting, as an International Trade Specialist which gave me the opportunity to develop my skills in international trade and export/import operations. However, I was not fully satisfied as desk work was not the best fit for myself.

I always had the passion to meet new people from different cultures, see and explore different places and be active. After leaving Mesa, I joined one of the largest building materials manufacturers of Turkey, Tepe Group as an International Sales & Marketing Senior Specialist. My responsibilities were including developing of existing customer base in the regions which I was responsible for, doing market research and finding sales channels for the company to increase its revenue generated by export sales and market share in foreign markets.

Once again, my path coincided with UK as I was given the responsibility to handle UK account. During those three years, I travelled to many countries and contributed to the revenues of the company by finding new clients in the UK, Scandinavia, Baltics and the Gulf region. I travelled to UK many times and represented Tepe in UK’s largest building event called UK Construction Week both in 2018 and 2019. Before I left, I was immensely proud to see that clients in the UK have become the largest export partners of Tepe. As I always had the desire to start my own venture, I started Smartcon which has the aim to offer solutions to its clients’ problems rather than selling just products. There are cultural differences and challenges concerning the way and approach of doing business between Turkey and the European countries. Smartcon’s aim is to act as a bridge between the organizations which would like to buy building materials from Turkey and the Turkish manufacturers. Therefore, it is offering hassle free sourcing solutions to make its clients’ focus on their own success.

What inspires you?

Throughout my career, I observed that most of the problems were results of cultural conflicts, different perceptions of working attitudes and poor customer service which caused frictions within the process of workflow. I recognized that the strong corporate structure of large organizations is transformed into corporate coarseness after some time because of their strict rules and inability to provide any flexibility. These results in decreased customer satisfaction, reduced speed of workflow and incomplete productivity. We, at Smartcon, are trying to be flexible, agile and solution oriented as much as possible. We do not let bureaucracy slow us down. At the end of the day, what really matters is whether you have left a good mark and made your client satisfied. It is also scientifically proven that maintaining and developing your current customer base is much more cost effective than finding new clients. We therefore value our clients, provide tailor made solutions specific to their market, respond to their inquiries quickly and be solution partner for them. This is why we are saying that we are providing a smooth and hassle-free sourcing process.

Why did you choose to study for a Business Finance MSc? Why at Queen Mary?

Being a member of the Russell Group and part of the University of London, QMUL is one of the most prestigious higher education institutions in the UK. It is a well-established and reputable university which combines diversity with a vibrant campus life and high-quality education with skilled professors. And frankly speaking, I was always charmed by the name of QMUL while I was studying my Bachelor’s in Turkey and it was one of the few universities which I had dreamed of doing a postgraduate degree. I feel so lucky and proud to be a graduate of QMUL.

Where do you hope to take Smartcon? Do you have ideas for other ventures in the future?

The UK is a huge marketplace for building materials. As there is an undersupply in housing, the prices getting far more away from being affordable. To tackle this problem, the UK government has announced a target of building 340.000 house each year until 2031. It is obvious that housing supply must be increased to balance the prices. It is possible to see the increasing number of construction sites for new residential buildings which results in an upward trend in the demand for building materials and this demand seems to continue at least for a decade taking the UK government’s attitude to this problem. Not only the undersupply of housing is a problem in the UK but there is affordability issue as well. The contractors are now looking for cost effective solutions while supplying building materials for their projects and this is where Smartcon steps in. Turkey is a country that is capable of manufacturing high quality building materials that meets the standards in the UK, with reasonable prices. Comparing with South East Asia, it is also much closer to the UK geographically which is an advantage for the transit times of the deliveries. Our goal in Smartcon is to develop Smartcon’s trade and collaborations with the UK further by supplying affordable building materials for the residential projects with good quality. We eventually would like open a branch office in the UK, to help UK’s construction market’s need of high quality and affordable building materials in the near future.

Do you have any particularly fond memories of your time at Queen Mary?

My best memories at my time in Queen Mary were on campus. I was staying in Chapman House on the top floor, and I met some great people. We were a group of friends all staying in Chapman House, each one from different nationality, Turkish, Greek, Cypriot, Chinese, German, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi. It was one of the best years of my life as we were so close to each other like a family. We were spending most of our extracurricular times together and we shared so many things with each other. They even attended my wedding ceremony in 2015, and we are still in frequent communication. I am grateful to QMUL because it brought those tremendous people into my life.

What advice would you give a student or recent graduate considering their career options?

No matter how hard you try to sustain the work and life balance, the time you spent at work always affects your private life, physical and mental wellbeing. Therefore, I would recommend that new graduates and the students first discover which career path would make them happier and then decide to move on considering different opportunities. Because when you are satisfied with the work you do, I believe that you will not perceive it as an ordinary job to just make your living and pay the bills, but you will experience self-actualization.

This profile was conducted by Alumni Engagement Coordinator, Hannah Dormor. If you would like to get in touch with Mert or engage him in your work, please contact Hannah at h.dormor@qmul.ac.uk.