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Limak Foundation - Executive of the Year - Non-Profit or Government Organizations

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Company: Limak Foundation, Ankara, Turkey
Company Description: Building on the philanthropic tradition of the family and the Limak Group, Limak Foundation was established in 2016 by the Limak Group to professionally manage social investments. The initial area of investment for Limak Foundation is strong and long-term advocacy of the advancement of women in engineering career, an issue of most importance in Turkey.
Nomination Category: Management Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Executive of the Year - Non-Profit or Government Organizations

Nomination Title: Ebru Ozdemir

Tell the story about what this nominated executive has achieved since 1 January 2017 (up to 650 words). Describe the impact he or she has had on your organization. Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Limak Group, one of region’s largest business groups from Turkey is mainly specialized in construction, infrastructure, PPPs and energy sectors; while investing and managing airports and ports, hotels and cement production. Operating in over 17 countries with more than 65,000 employees, the Group has taken part in Turkey’s current mega-projects that include Istanbul Grand Airport and 1915 Çanakkale Bridge.

Since 1997, Ebru Özdemir (Ms.) is in the wheel of Limak Investments, being the investment arm of the Group, whose portfolio includes airports, ports, energy generation, distribution and trading assets. Completing her BS in civil engineering from Turkey’s Bogaziçi University and her MBA on international business and finance from Fordham University, Özdemir has been working for Limak’s global business. For the past over 10 years, she has conducted projects nationwide and internationally, from airports in Kuwait, Kosovo, Russia and Senegal to roads, ports, dams, natural gas and hydroelectric power plants.

Parallel to her strong presence in business, Limak’s Özdemir is committed to inspiring more girls to pursue engineering career in Turkey. Raised in a family of engineers Limak’s Özdemir tries to reflect her passion for engineering to Turkey’s young generations through Limak Foundation, a private foundation established in 2016 in order to professionally manage social investments of the Group.

As the Founder and currently Chair of Limak Foundation, Ebru Özdemir pioneered Engineer Girls of Turkey (TMK in Turkish acronym), Foundation’s flagship Program launched in 2015. The Program has successfully managed to make a holistic approach to gender equality and women empowerment in Turkey. The Program’s collaborative approach with and between public authorities (Turkish Ministry for Education; Ministry of Family and Social Policies), international institutions (United Nations Development Program of Turkey) and private sector; comprehensive practice through its secondary and undergraduate lines targeting whole range of actors varying from students to families, from instructors to employers; and innovative methods and practices through encouraging more girls to engineering track by supporting and mentoring them has been key elements of the Program.

Since 2017, the Foundation continues the Program, TMK, with all its components in a progressive manner; more students with fellowship granted at university level (100+ university students from 24 different districts of Turkey); more professional mentors contributing the Program (180+ mentors currently); more students, instructors and family members reached at high-school and pre-school levels (20.000+ individuals). The Foundation also considers for international recognition of the Program as a model for encouraging more female students to engineering track through exposure to global scene.

Moved from the assumption that engineering is not something that only happens in universities, but rather across the lifespan and in multiple settings, Limak’s Özdemir expanded the scope of the Program to different target groups in 2017, namely to children aged 3 to 6 through Junior Engineers Program, and post-graduates students through MISTI Program, the flagship of MIT's international academic cooperation program, aiming to encourage joint research projects between MIT and Bogaziçi University faculty members and students.

‘Innovative Engineering Certificate Program’, a mandatory online course launched in 2017, is an important element of the Program where the Certificate adds a ‘social and entrepreneurial’ layer to beneficiaries. Similarly the Program incorporates graduates into private sector by embedding girls in Limak Group companies or companies from the sector for internships or employment, which is a component added to the Program in 2017.

While Limak Group continues to grow nationwide and internationally with more mega-projects inside and outside of Turkey, Limak Foundation decided to launch a parent program in Kuwait, where Limak Group has been entitled to construct Kuwait’s new iconic gateaway, Kuwait International Airport New Passenger Terminal. Kuwait’s Engineer Girls Program launched in October 2017 aims to increase the local professional capacity of Kuwait through funneling more Kuwaiti citizens, especially women to thrive in the private sector of the country. The first cohort of graduates, 30 female engineers, has graduated from the Program on March 2018.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated executive since the beginning of 2017.

-106 students have been part of the Project (36 different state universities in 24 districts)
-Students have been trained through ‘Innovative Engineering Online Certificate Programme’ since 2017; a programme encompasses courses ranging from marketing to philanthropy, social media to social innovation; in which the Certificate adds an ‘innovative and entrepreneurial’ layer.
-Among the first cohort of graduates (16), 5 students have been employed at Limak Group, while rest were employed at other companies in the sector. Prior to their graduations, all students have completed their internships at Limak Group companies;
-Pool of mentors reached to 180 professionals;
-Over 20.000 high school students, educators, parents; and over 5.000 kids (aged 3 to 6) and their parents;
-A parent program, Kuwait’s Engineer Girls was initiated in 2017 with the same purpose
-Project was granted with “the most creative CSR project” award by Turkish Private Sector Volunteers Association in 2017