People Matter. That’s what over 15 years of experience in human resources, consulting and executive coaching in 20 countries have taught Tim Bright, founder of OneWorld Consulting.
From managing human resources to advising people
The founder of One World Consulting has lived in the global fast lane of consulting and human resource management for over 15 years. Now with his exclusive consulting, mentoring and recruiting service, Tim Bright makes Istanbul his home
People matter. That's what over 15 years of experience in human resources, consulting and executive coaching in 20 countries have taught Tim Bright, founder of One World Consulting based in Istanbul's Maslak district.
Bright's path brought him to Turkey in 1991 when he was recruited as training coordinator at Emlak bank. “They closed down shortly after I came, but it was not because of me,” he said jokingly. In his office overlooking a business district under construction, Bright describes how he then worked as a freelance consultant, designing and managing training programs and advising on human resources issues, including executive development and managing trainers. His international career in executive recruiting and coaching reads like the perfect story.
From 1995 Bright worked with Nicholson International as Turkey's country manager while in 1997 he was appointed area manager for Turkey and Israel. Before long, the company sent him to Hong Kong where he led the successful expansion in China – he set up four offices and negotiated a landmark joint venture with the Chinese government. The team was selected by Euromoney as the “Best Recruitment Firm in China.”
After climbing the corporate ladder to the management board of the firm he was made responsible for the group's operations in the United States with offices in New York, Princeton, and Silicon Valley and a focus on financial services, healthcare and technology.
But Turkey, he said, was always in his heart and mind. “I chose to be here and came back,” he said. In 2003, he and his wife relocated to Istanbul. “I like it on a simple level. I like the culture, I enjoy the people... I find Turkey more interesting,” he said. When working with expatriates who ask questions about Turkey, Bright said, it is difficult to answer their questions and his answer usually is: “It depends.” Two separate train rides, one to Syria and one to Iran revealed the many faces of Turkey. “I find the diversity interesting.... I find it dull now to be back in the United Kingdom,” he said. Turkey's geography has made it only easier to do business here. As for his shift from a big corporation to the small eclectic business he founded a year ago, he said, it is really a natural step.
“I had always wanted to start my own business,” Bright said and now he has found his niche stepping away from management and doing actual consulting instead. With a staff of five, and through One World Consulting, Bright said he wants to make deeper and more personal business relationships. “I wanted a small business where I could do hands-on work with clients,” he said. As for growth plans, he said the firm's staff will not grow beyond eight consultants and researchers, “because when you get bigger, you get into big projects that you end up managing. We want a small number of clients where we can build relations and get repeated business deals,” he said. “I want fun, to be honest... but the more important motivation is an interesting job.”
Top business names included in his client portfolio are Aviva, Borusan, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Dogus, Ericsson, Google, Koc Group, Johnson & Johnson, Maxxium, Merck, Next, Pearson, Procter & Gamble, Sabancı Group, Siemens, Tesco, Unilever, Vodafone and Visa International.
The firm conducts executive searches and recruitment, executive coaching and mentoring, intercultural consulting and people advisory, the last of which Bright explained is a better way to say human resources consulting. “I think people are more than a resource,” he said. He explained that the business aspects he and his colleagues focus on are the things that are irreplaceable or cannot be replicated. “It is about what cannot be copied,” he said. “With global markets it is easy to get the technical aspect. If you need capital you can get capital. If I wanted to I could go and copy Amazon tomorrow. But what I cannot copy is the culture and how people work together. It is a competitive strength of the copy that is not possible to replicate.” Bright said that in a world that is changing, businesses that want to go global no single person can have all the knowledge, so people need to be working together in collaborations. “Teamwork and diversity is more and more important and in order to do that companies need a people focus,” he said.
The Turkish multiplier
Having worked with so many Turks and having seen businessmen be active in the region, Bright said he admired how they can be successful in modern business. He isolates their success recipe to the ability to deal with change, a mind for global elements and continuous learning. “Look at Turkish executives. They are really good at dealing with all of those three. They have learned to manage change successfully, Turks are good at dealing with foreigners, traveling and working overseas and people are continuously educating themselves. The best Turkish executives exhibit all three of these,” he said, adding that top managers of Pfizer and Coca Cola are Turks. “I find their stories interesting.”
When asked about the top challenges of Turkish managers and top executives, Bright said the obvious is that things are getting a lot more competitive as there are fewer international trade barriers and as a result “companies cannot make the fat margin they used to.”
But a less obvious one is how they run their businesses. Turks are whizzes at technology and quality process management but that tends to have a weakness, as companies are less people oriented and more process oriented, said Bright. Instead of motivating and leading, Turkish leaders “are more achievement-oriented, too controlling, do not delegate well, and do not develop successes and people in the system,” he said. In a recent coaching project for a technology company Bright asked 15 top executives what their top three priorities were. “None of them said anything about people,” said Bright. After the hundreds of interviews he has done with potential leaders, he said “looking at who are successful leaders, if I look at what makes a difference, it is people skills and not intelligence.” Bright said the “command and control” style becomes less and less effective for companies and as they become more sophisticated and people oriented the key to effective management is a diverse range of leadership styles. For this reason recruiting and retaining good people is critical. Many people in Turkey ask Bright: “Why do people leave?” The top answers in Turkey are: “I do not get on with my boss, I do not see my future, I am not learning anything,” and then “money,” he said and advised that companies “need to recruit better mid managers,” to manage with an EQ (emotional quotient) as well as with an IQ. Many new Turkish managers are rising from engineering backgrounds and Bright said most of the coaching he does with them focuses around building EQ.
As for new expats taking leadership positions in Turkey where the focus is on the collective and relationships, Bright explained they “need to learn that people will look up to bosses and will want an emotional connection.” A common complaint he hears from Turkish employees about expatriate bosses is: “They are nice people, but they do not spend time with us,” said Bright. “For Turkish employees that social connection is important.”
Investing in a second home
Bright said that his love for Turkey and the climate have led him and his wife to build a stone house in Dalyan on the south coast of Turkey. In the yard he has fruit trees and he said he likes to escape Istanbul's urban madness to go tend to the garden. "My current project is to grow fruit on a lemon tree," he said. These days he is trying to graft oranges on one of his lemon trees and said he can't wait to suprise his nieces and nephews with the "strange" tree when they come to visit.
Finding the right people
Finding the right people for the right job is one of the main activities of One World Consulting. The consulting firm approaches this like a real craft, said Bright. "We spend time with the company trying to understand what they are doing and make a market strategy with them. It is an intensive craft done through a well thought out process," he said. Google's new general country manager and a top executive of Tesco were the work of One World Consulting. "There is a lot of thought that goes into it and we work closely with a company for a few months." For one position it is not unlikely for them to interview over a hundred candidates, which for Bright means also giving the right direction to job seekers as well. "We treat candidates like clients," he said. One World Consulting specializes in recruiting executives in healthcare, technology, industrial and financial services.