From Ankara to Bucharest, via New York

With a passion for business that he inherited from his father, who started and manages a series of businesses in Turkey, Noyan Kirman got into business early on in high school. He hasn’t wasted any moment of his youth so far – traveled, studied and worked abroad. From Ankara, in Turkey, via New York, the 23 year old has chosen to continue learning about businesses first hand while working in Romania, where business becomes more personal and opportunities abound.

By Corina Saceanu

Noyan, who is now working with Synergy Construct on marketing and business development in Romania, is not at his first encounter with the country. Four years ago, while he was still studying, he got a four-month summer internship with the same company. Four years down the road and after finishing studies and working in New York, he has chosen to return to Eastern Europe and landed the job in Romania.

He got into business early on – when he was in high school he started working during the summer for his father’s firm, a company which was distributing Gilette products. It was from that experience that he learned the multinational way. And it was from his father that he learned to be a trust worthy business man, as “once you loose your reputation it is impossible to get it back,” Noyan says.

And then he found a way to put all these lessons to work. While still in New York, he started working in marketing and sales for a logistics and freight forwarding company in Manhattan – he was dealing with Asian imports. When Lehman Brothers fell, he was there and saw that “after the crisis, everyone was so unhappy in New York. People starting looking down when they were walking on the streets. I was doing Ok, the firm I was working for Ok, but there was no way up in that company,” Noyan Kirman says.

So he headed towards Eastern Europe and it was not hard to choose Romania. His family, which owns and runs a network of businesses in Turkey, also has land investments in Romania. At some point in the future, Noyan hopes to get involved into real estate developments on those pieces of land.

In fact, the entrepreneurial spirit not only runs in Noyan’s family, but is actually a wider spread trait in Turkey. “There, everyone is a kind of entrepreneur. In Romania people are not trying hard enough. In Turkey, in every small market, there is a delivery guy who brings you bread to your home if you live in the area. It would be very nice to have something like that here as well, but no one is even thinking about it or doing it,” says Noyan.

And Bucharest is certainly not New York either, when it comes to comparing the Romanian capital city to the places Noyan has been. But it is actually easier to do business here than in New York. “In NY it is hard to do face to face business – people are used to working from their cubicals. In the Balkans – Turkey, Romania- business becomes more personal. All business people are open to face to face meetings and they trust people more if they see them,” says Noyan. It’s not the only area in which Bucharest is better than many cities on the other side of the ocean. Clubbing here is better, the 23-year old thinks, better than New York, Miami or Vegas clubbing. And he knows a bit about clubbing!

Back when he came to Romania for the first time, in 2006, he expected to find poverty and a reminiscent communist culture. To some extent, both his expectations were met. “It was half true – people weren’t that poor, but they didn’t know anything about luxury either,” he says. Now he feels so many things have changed, some to the better, others to the worse: the traffic is awful, but not worse than in Turkey; people can afford to buy more, there are more stores and shopping malls. And he should know a few things about shopping malls – his father is managing the biggest shopping mall in Turkey, Ankamall in Ankara. Both Noyan and his father hold shares in the public listed company which owns the mall. This is not the only Turkish business in which Noyan is a shareholder. He holds shares in Supersan Makine, a machinery firm, and in Ogizmat, a firm which distributes tea products.

His family’s real estate investment in Romania was among the reasons he decided to start working in the field and learn more about constructions in Romania. He has been working here for eight months and has managed to get past the hard period t the beginning when he didn’t know many people here. The lack of a support system here was his main struggle, but in the meantime he’s managed to increase his local and expat network.

If he were to invest in anything else in Romania apart real estate – and he’s waiting for the market to pick up for that too – he would see opportunities in agriculture and in restaurants and coffeeshops. No wonder the Lipscani area of Bucharest is one of his favorite areas in the capital city. He’s seen several Romanian cities but seems to be more attracted by the mountain area, where he got to practice snowboarding, one of his passions, during the long winter this year. Constanta seaside city is on his list for future stops – Noyan is a licensed sailor and hasn’t had the chance to practice his hobby in Romania yet.

corina@romania-insider.com