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Main Page arrow News arrow İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp address the 'Responsible and Responsive Leadership' panel

İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp address the 'Responsible and Responsive Leadership' panel

01 May 2024
The Board of Directors of Rönesans Holding, İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp, address the 'Responsible and Responsive Leadership' panel at the Uludağ Economy Summit.

İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp Spoke at the Uludağ Economy Summit

The Board of Directors of Rönesans Holding, İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp, delivered a speech at the Uludağ Economy Summit, Türkiye's most prominent business and economy gathering, organised by the magazines, Capital, Ekonomist, and Start-Up. At the Uludağ Economy Summit, which took place from 25 to 27 April at the Sapanca NG Enjoy Hotel, Ilıcak Kayaalp spoke on the 'Responsible and Responsive Leadership' panel. She emphasised that social and environmental issues have become integral to corporate responsibility in recent years, influencing business practices alongside the traditional profit-driven approach.

Expressing her belief that many systems around the world will undergo significant changes, İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp stated: "Education, healthcare, and financial systems are all undergoing transformations. Companies can no longer operate as purely profit-driven entities. Leaders must now consciously take on responsibility in these areas, as today's youth are much more inquisitive, responsive, and knowledgeable than us. The young people shaping the future of companies scrutinise the practices of the organisations they work for and choose the brands they purchase accordingly. In my 24-year career, I have observed how vital it is to adopt a sustainable vision and how it positively impacts the company, our employees, creditors, clients, stakeholders, and society at large.”

Highlighting that Rönesans Holding is involved in two main fields of activity, construction and investment, Ilıcak Kayaalp stated that the holding company constructs a limited number of residential projects, instead choosing to focus mainly on hospitals, high-rise buildings, and industrial structures. Ilıcak Kayaalp emphasised that Rönesans Holding's structures are, without exception, built to stay intact and operational in the event of possible earthquakes by stating: "All of our buildings are inspected according to American standards in addition to Turkish standards. A 70-person experienced Structural Earthquake Engineering team conducts these inspections in-house. Furthermore, we receive consultancy from leading engineering teams and professors in Türkiye as well as the United States. We have clearly made the correct decision by implementing these rigorous standards, as demonstrated by last year's major earthquakes, rather than focusing solely on pursuing a profit-driven approach. Not one of the 200+ buildings we constructed in the earthquake region was severely damaged. Our Piazza Shopping Centre in Kahramanmaraş is situated right next to the fault line. Unfortunately, all the other buildings on that particular street were destroyed due to the earthquakes. Our shopping centre, on the other hand, served as a coordination centre during the disaster. Our city hospitals in Adana and Elazığ continued operations during and after the earthquake, including surgical procedures. While many hospitals in the region were demolished, the continued operation of the Adana City Hospital was essential for meeting critical healthcare needs during that challenging time. As you know, we also experienced a significant earthquake in Elazığ in 2020; thanks to our seismic isolation technology, our hospital in Elazığ did not suffer any damage and continued its operations uninterrupted, playing a crucial role in the aftermath. I mentioned this example because our company has never solely focused on economics and profitability, as we are highly aware that our work directly impacts human lives. 


Drawing attention to how the scope of social and responsive leadership has expanded recently, as well as noting her role in a male-dominated industry, İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp stated: "Reflecting on how we can contribute to the sector in this regard, I signed the UN Women's Empowerment Principles in 2016 making substantial commitments on behalf of the company and launching a project to influence our business processes.”

Despite the nature of the industry, İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp stressed that Rönesans works to support women in business and strengthen their employment opportunities, adding that three of the eight members of the holding company's board are women, one of whom is responsible for sustainability. Referring to their 2022 Sustainability Award for 'Gender and Economic Inclusion,' presented by the EBRD for Rönesans Holding's exceptional efforts in promoting women's initiatives, İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp noted that receiving recognition in this area is gratifying and motivates the entire team. She explained that since last year, Rönesans Holding has prioritised supporting women and children in their work in the earthquake-affected region: "We initiated and are set to continue long-term collaborations with UNICEF and UNFPA in the earthquake zone. Following last year's devastating earthquakes, we established a container city for 10,000 people, where we designed social spaces, especially for women and children. We also started to support various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the aftermath of the earthquakes. UNICEF provides psychosocial support for both children and women in these aforementioned social areas. To date, we have provided more than 5,000 hours of psychosocial support to 1,600 women. This year, when we reviewed people's needs in the region again, we began working with UNFPA. We fully support safe spaces for women and girls in Kahramanmaraş and Malatya. In addition to empowering women regarding employment, we provide fundamental support for women's health, including pregnancy follow-up, prenatal and postnatal care, safe motherhood, and hygiene. Services to prevent and intervene in gender-based violence are also provided, including essential psychosocial support for women.”


İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp explained that Rönesans has provided scholarships to more than 12 thousand students through Rönesans Education Foundation since 2009: "Our criteria for maintaining scholarships are clear. First, each student must complete the specified training and participate in social responsibility projects. We place great importance on this aspect." 

İpek Ilıcak Kayaalp also spoke about Rönesans Holding's Compass programme, which offers a one-year programme for new graduates without work experience to provide crucial employment opportunities. Ilıcak Kayaalp stated that they have enabled young people to kickstart their careers through Compass and that 1,110 graduates from this programme have been hired. In 2015, when sustainability topics were significantly less popular than today, Rönesans Holding launched a competition titled 'Design the Sustainable Future', which Ilıcak Kayaalp sponsored personally. Providing information on DSF, Ilıcak Kayaalp said: "DSF is an excellent example of university-private sector collaboration on sustainability. We asked architecture and engineering students to develop green projects and conduct related seminars. We have reached over 100,000 students to date. We are delighted that this competition has become a highly popular event in universities across Türkiye today.”

In conclusion, Ilıcak Kayaalp stated that the experience she has gained while working at the company and the projects she has been involved in have not only shaped her perspective on leadership and business but also developed her approach to many issues in her personal life. 

About Rönesans Group

Rönesans Holding, the conglomerate's top investment entity headquartered in Ankara, is the 38th largest international contracting company globally and the 9th largest in Europe. With operations spanning 30 countries across Europe, Central Asia, and Africa, including subsidiaries such as Ballast Nedam in the Netherlands and Heitkamp Industrial Solutions GmbH in Germany, Rönesans has been operating as the main contractor and investor successfully for 30 years in construction, real estate development, healthcare and energy. Putting resilience and growth through innovation at the core of the company, with a priority on sustainability and social development, Rönesans has developed projects supporting students with scholarships, academic platforms and initiatives; been a signatory of the UN Global Compact since 2015; and a signatory of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles since 2016.

Under the leadership of its president, Erman Ilıcak, Rönesans, along with its partners GIC, Meridiam Infrastructure, Sojitz, Samsung C&T, TotalEnergies, and IFC of the World Bank Group (minority shareholder in the group), has invested more than EUR8 billion into pioneering projects globally.

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