Andreas Vetr

Why Local Talent Beats Expatriates for Success in Türkiye

The Shift in International Recruitment in Türkiye: Why Local Expertise Matters

In the dynamic landscape of international recruitment in Türkiye, a notable trend has emerged over the past decade. At ISG Personalmanagement, we have witnessed a significant shift in how international companies approach their hiring strategies in Türkiye. With 73% of our hiring focused on international firms and our dedicated team of 25 specialists across various sectors, we have a unique vantage point on this evolution.

The Traditional Approach: Expatriates Leading the Way

For many years, the standard practice for international companies investing in Türkiye involved bringing expatriates from their headquarters. These expatriates, often seasoned professionals, were tasked with transferring know-how and instilling the company culture within the Turkish operations. This approach, prevalent until around 2015-2017, aimed to ensure a seamless integration of global standards and practices.

The Paradigm Shift: Embracing Local Talent

However, a significant change occurred between 2015 and 2017. International companies began to recognize the value of local talent—professionals who not only understood the Turkish culture and work environment but also had international education and experience. These individuals were uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between the international investor’s culture and the Turkish market’s nuances.

This realization led to a growing preference for Turkish professionals in leadership roles. Expatriates started transitioning from operational positions in Türkiye to advisory roles from their international headquarters, supporting Turkish CEOs, Country Managers, and General Managers remotely. This shift has proven to be effective for both existing and new investments, regardless of whether their market focus is local or international.

Why Turkish Professionals Excel

Several factors contribute to the success of Turkish professionals in these roles:

1. Cultural Understanding: Turkish managers inherently understand the local culture, legal environment, and labor market dynamics. This intrinsic knowledge is crucial for navigating the complexities of the Turkish business landscape.

2. International Experience: Many Turkish professionals have had exposure to international education and work environments. This dual experience equips them with a deep understanding of both the local and international contexts, making them ideal candidates to lead international companies’ operations in Türkiye.

3. Effective Communication: Turkish professionals can communicate effectively with both the local workforce and the international headquarters. This bilingual and bicultural fluency ensures that there are no gaps in understanding or execution.

The Misconception of Repatriates

A common misconception among international companies is that hiring Turkish individuals who grew up abroad (in countries like Germany, the US, or the UK) will yield the same benefits as hiring locals. While these individuals speak Turkish and have familial ties to Türkiye, their understanding of the work environment and culture often remains superficial. They are sometimes perceived as outsiders—neither fully foreign nor authentically local—which can lead to integration challenges and workplace friction.

The Ideal Setup for Success

My extensive experience suggests that the most effective strategy for international companies in Türkiye is to combine the strengths of both expatriates and local talent. Expatriates should focus on supporting the company culture and transferring technology, while Turkish leaders, educated and experienced internationally, should steer the company’s operations. This synergy leverages the best of both worlds, fostering a successful and sustainable business model.

Even with my 30 years of experience in Türkiye as a native Austrian, I always collaborate with a Turkish partner or manager. Despite my deep understanding of the Turkish mentality, I continuously learn and adapt, acknowledging that growing up and being educated in a country provides an irreplaceable depth of insight.


In conclusion, the shift towards prioritizing local talent in leadership positions has proven beneficial for international companies operating in Türkiye. By recognizing the unique advantages that well-educated and internationally experienced Turkish professionals bring, companies can navigate the Turkish market more effectively and sustainably. At ISG Personalmanagement, we are committed to facilitating this transition, ensuring that our clients find the right people to lead their ventures to success in Türkiye.

Andreas Vetr


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