Murat Büyükerk, Arctic CEO: Romania is an excellent place to live and do business
"Romania is an excellent place to live and do business, and I have talked all over the world about how wonderful this country is." - Murat Büyükerk, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Arctic.
Murat Büyükerk, an experienced executive and the current CEO of top household appliances producer Arctic, first came to Romania almost 20 years ago after the Turkish group Arcelik took over the former state-owned Romanian refrigerator manufacturer. It only took a short visit for him to fall in love with the country.
"It surprised me to discover not only a company with a great heritage and growth potential but also a beautiful and strong country that was heading in the right direction. That was the moment when I understood that Romania has something very special to offer and I fell in love with this country. Its astonishing landscapes, complex culture, rich history, and delicious food have fascinated me," Büyükerk told Romania-insider.com.
Sixteen years later, Murat Büyükerk got the chance to return to Romania, as he was appointed to lead Arctic. Today, he still believes Romania is a great place to live and do business, a place with beautiful tourist attractions, a friendly business environment, and dedicated, creative, and hard-working people.
"I believe people are one of the most important assets of a business, and I am fortunate to have near me ambitious and results-oriented professionals," he said.
In the interview below, Murat Büyükerk talks about his first encounter with Romania and how things have changed since then, the country's strengths, and the things the Romanians are good at.
Please tell us a bit about your background.
Over 31 years have passed since I joined Arçelik. Being part of one of the leading household appliance manufacturers is an amazing journey with a lot of hard work, but also with many opportunities to contribute to our industry and society. I have seen many changes over these decades, and I am proud to have contributed to some of these developments with my teams. My professional itinerary encompasses various leadership positions in product management, supply chain, and sales, including coordinating the company's brand activity in over 100 countries. Those experiences instilled in me a customer-focused mindset and the importance of product quality. Prior to taking over the management of Arctic, I was International Regional Sales Director at Arçelik, a position from which I coordinated the launch of a variety of top products and technologies, which supported the group's global growth.
I came to Romania, as CEO of Arctic, 3 years ago now. I have been fortunate to discover dedicated teams here and be surrounded by ambitious people eager to offer more value to our consumers.
Apart from my work, I am passionate about golf, and I can say that I have an extensive list of attendances in competitions.
Please describe your first encounter with Romania. Have you visited the country before being appointed CEO of Arctic?
I first came to Romania in 2002, on a short-term mission, when Arçelik integrated Arctic under its umbrella. At that time, I was part of the Beko family and my role here was to contribute to this integration. It surprised me to discover not only a company with a great heritage and growth potential but also a beautiful and strong country that was heading in the right direction. That was the moment when I understood that Romania has something very special to offer and I fell in love with this country. Its astonishing landscapes, complex culture, rich history, and delicious food have fascinated me.
Romania is an excellent place to live and do business, and I have talked all over the world about how wonderful this country is. I see the growing business potential of the country and the significant advantages that Turkey has in its economic relationship with Romania, as well. Romanian and Turkish cultures have a lot in common, while proximity is a clear asset.
What was your main challenge when arriving in Romania? How did you overcome it?
In 2018, when my appointment to lead Arctic was announced, I was thrilled to return to my beloved country after 16 years. I found a company with a spectacular growth under the Arçelik umbrella, and I clearly understood that I need to continue this powerful legacy built by my predecessor. It was not a straightforward process, and despite all the difficulties, Arctic has continued to be the leader in the Romanian household appliance market, which proves that our efforts were focused on the right direction. I believe people are one of the most important assets of a business, and I am fortunate to have near me ambitious and results-oriented professionals.
As a market leader, we also have an enormous responsibility to create a positive impact on society. Over the past year, my team and I have strengthened our commitment through actions meant to meet the actual needs of society. I would mention "Love Arctic" in partnership with MagiCAMP, through which we offered support to hard-pressed families, and "Arctic for Health," through which we sustained the efforts of healthcare professionals and donated over 1,300 appliances worth 1,4 mil RON to over 90 hospitals and ambulance services.
How has Romania changed since you first arrived?
Almost 20 years have passed since I first came to Romania, and I can say that, in this period, the country has developed significantly. As part of the European Union, Romania has benefited from constant and sustainable development and became a major player in the region, with a clear attractiveness for new investments.
I am also glad to see that Romanians are investing more and more in education, and this is the only investment capable of generating real long-term growth in any country. There are also changes in the way Romanians embrace professional challenges. The new generations are more ambitious, excited to develop major projects, to make a difference, and this can be seen in the large number of young entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses.
What are the three things you like most about Romania and why? What don't you like in Romania?
Romania has an important expat community, and I know many foreigners who like to settle and work at least for a while in Romania. I really appreciate that Romanians are generally open to foreign executives, making culture clashes unlikely. Language is rarely a barrier, and corporate Romanians are real ambitious professionals. I feel lucky to have a knowledgeable team with results-oriented people, curious and eager to always improve their skills.
What I like most about Romania is its culture, the Romanians capacity to adapt and reinvent, and the growing community of young tech entrepreneurs highly trained who have an important voice in the business environment. There is nothing I do not like about this country. My only regret is that I do not have enough time to explore it more.
Please mention your three favorite places in Romania.
Romania has many hidden gems - from less known waterfalls, beautiful natural reservations to interesting rural experiences, churches, old castles, and much more. Whenever I have the opportunity, I like to escape from the city. I find driving on the Transfagarasan highway very relaxing, and the Danube Delta is breath-taking. It is still surprisingly wild and relatively undestroyed, and it is a veritable treasure.
But I admit I am deeply in love with the vibe and the unique culture of historical old towns. Brasov, Sibiu, and Sighisoara are some of Europe's best-preserved medieval towns, and I am enchanted by their unique architectural treasures, such as fortified churches, castles, or centuries-old houses. Sinaia fascinated me by its jewel – Peles Castle, which encompasses so much history and beauty.
Would you recommend Romania as a country to live in or to visit?
What I discovered in the 3 years since I live here is that Romanians, like most people living in the Balkans, are great hosts. They will usually go the extra distance to feel you welcome and improve your experience. I always tell my friends and Turkish businessmen that Romania is a very good place to live and do business. I found here a friendly business environment, great resources, and dedicated and responsible people.
Not to mention that in Romania, you can find more fresh and organic food, even if not all products are labeled as such.
Based on your experience as a company CEO in Romania, please mention three things you think Romanians are really good at.
Romanians are trustful business partners, and they are very serious when speaking about business. They are aware of the international business practice, and I have noticed many times they are studying the particularities of the potential partner before a first meeting, which is to be appreciated, especially if the partner is a foreigner. During my stay in Romania, I had the pleasure to meet hard-working people, creative, with a strong sense of humor. I am impressed by the Romanian professionals living abroad who choose to return and contribute to the development of their country of origin. Their resilience is inspiring if we think of all the changes in the contemporary history that the Romanians went through. People really are the heart of everything.
Arctic, which is part of the Tuskish group Arcelik, is the biggest appliance manufacturer in Romania. In 2019, the company's turnover passed EUR 500 million and the number of employees reached 3,500. At the end of 2019, Arctic opened its second factory in Romania, which produces washing machines, after a EUR 150 mln investment.
Irina Marica, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Photo source: courtesy of Murat Büyükerk)