Neslihan Tombul is an inspirational corporate leader and strategist with over 30 years of financial and senior management experience. Starting out in her family’s fashion retail business in the USA, she began her professional career in finance in 1983 at The Irving Trust Company (now BNY Mellon) where she held senior management positions in New York, London and Istanbul and spearheaded many successful and lucrative -bank projects and initiatives. Having worked throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, she was an industry pioneer and trailblazer and helped to develop the banking industry in Turkey and the region. She is a specialist in international finance, capital markets, corporate strategy and risk management.
Following a successful banking career, in 2009, she took initiative to establish a Venture Capital Fund to support technology enabled start-ups in Turkey. She then transitioned into the corporate sector where she served as an independent board member in a broad range of leading international companies in Food and Beverage, manufacturing, construction, heavy industry and energy. Serving as Chairperson of Finance, Risk Management, Corporate Governance and Investor Relations Committees, she initiated and realized many new undertakings to improve and enhance processes, expand market share and increase profitability. She currently serves as an Independent Board Member at Vakıfbank International (Vienna), TOFAŞ, PETKIM, AKTAŞ Holding and ALARKO Holding and serves as Chairperson of Risk, Audit and Governance Committees. Stretching outside the Middle East, Ms. Tombul is also a Specialist Advisor to NZTE, the economic development agency of the New Zealand government.
Ms. Tombul has worked with leading business families and holding companies in Turkey and the Middle East throughout her career. She has a passion for management excellence and a deep appreciation and understanding of the role of technology, innovation and design in business. Over 2014-2020, she was Senior Advisor and Associate Partner at Cambridge Family Enterprise Group, a leading international advisory firm founded by Prof John Davis (MIT), which helps families on issues related to growth strategy, long-term continuity, governance, leadership and next generation integration. She was also a Family Facilitator at Harvard Business School’s executive education program, Families in Business: From Generation to Generation, which examines pivotal issues facing family firms and their aspirations to sustain their family and business legacies. Since 2017, in order to create greater awareness and help develop next generation corporate leaders, Ms. Tombul also lectures at Koç University where she focuses on Management and Best Practices in the Family Enterprise, a program which she personally developed. Based on student evaluations, she amply exceeded university standards and was awarded the “Excellence in Teaching” citation at Koç University in 2018 and 2019.
Committed to building a strong civil society, Ms. Tombul is President of the Propeller Club, the oldest and only English speaking business organization in Turkey, a long-standing Steering Committee member of ARIT and a member of YPO-WPO. She is a longtime Trustee of TGEV, a foundation which promotes education in Turkey’s distressed regions, and she is a founder of the American Business Forum in Turkey. In addition to supporting numerous technology start-ups, through EBRD, she is also a mentor to women entrepreneurs to help grow and professionalize their businesses.
Ms. Tombul holds a B.A. Degree (1981) in Economics and Political Science from Rutgers University (where she graduated with High Honors) and a Master’s Degree (1983) in International Relations and Economic Development from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She is fluent in English, Turkish, Azerbaijani and French and continues her studies in Farsi and Italian. With her unique international background, Ms. Tombul is the quintessential universal citizen. She has the spirit of the West and the soul of East. Her strength and success come from this diversity where her values reflect a healthy combination of the traditional and the contemporary. She has always been inspired by history and the creative arts and her personal interests include equestrian sports, jazz music and the culinary arts.