From naval officer to global manager

The success story of an SHB alumni

Staying closely focused on personal goals, having the courage to make major decisions, and striking out in new directions – these are just some of the reasons for the successful career of Orkun Buchholz, a GeneralMBA Growth Management alumni who studied at the School of International Business and Entrepreneurship (SIBE) at Steinbeis University Berlin (SHB). Orkun Buchholz is originally from Istanbul, where he studied industrial engineering in the Turkish navy. He knew early on that he wanted to follow this with an MBA – preferably abroad. Steinbeis University Berlin was the perfect choice. Orkun Buchholz explains: “I chose the SIBE because it had an interesting range of courses, a good reputation, and a strong international orientation. And of course, I also wanted to benefit from its global transfer network.”

The aim of his two-year study project was to map out an optimal expansion course for the firm S&Y Balikci GmbH, who financed his studies. His task: to figure out how and where to expand, in what way, and to formulate a growth strategy from the results. No mean feat – Orkun Buchholz was responsible for everything from an in-depth analysis to planning and implementing the expansion concept. The results spoke for themselves: Orkun Buchholz transformed the company into the leading exporter in its industry. The firm rapidly grew from just four branches in the Rhine-Main area of Germany to 52 across the whole of Europe and Turkey. Company turnover boomed.

“The GeneralMBA Growth Management was exactly the right path for me to take, even though I found it difficult at the start because my German wasn’t so good”, Orkun Buchholz tells. But he battled on – for him, giving up is never an option. The positive atmosphere and support from lecturers and other students were a real source of strength for him. In fact, Orkun Buchholz’ graduating class still meets up regularly, in addition to keeping up to date with developments via the alumni newsletter.

At the end of his first year, Orkun Buchholz successfully founded a management consulting firm – a great example of how interdisciplinary exchange between students can result in real entrepreneurship. With a fellow student, his former boss and a fourth partner, Orkun Buchholz set up the firm Caban AG, based in Switzerland, and opened a branch in Germany. Not only was Orkun Buchholz a partner in the firm, he ran the German branch himself.

After completing his MBA, he moved to Siemens, where he took up a new position working in oil and gas. “My understanding of both German and middle-eastern culture allowed me to act as a bridge between the two,” he explains. Since then, the successful SHB alumni has been responsible for developing global strategies and objectives for end-to-end oil and gas solutions worldwide – a position that involves contact with 180 countries. Another aspect of his job: discussing new technology to meet the challenges of the next 20 years.

Orkun Buchholz’ job requires nothing less than all-round management. Many of the skills he developed during his MBA are still essential today: working with people from different backgrounds, summarizing complex issues into key points, and winning over colleagues and superiors. As well as forging a new path in his career, his current priority is to maintain a good work-life balance – he became a father for the second time at the start of 2008. But yet more ambitious goals lie ahead: “A doctorate would be interesting. But I think I’ll wait a little while first.”

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