WEConnect International certified women’s business enterprise Iglo Architects was founded in Istanbul in 2001 by two architects, with as its current managing partner.
“It is difficult for an architect to run a company. They don’t teach how to run a company at the faculty of architecture,” says Esen. “An architect literally has no idea about taxes, financial statements, law, hr, pr…basically knows nothing about management unless they have a corporate background where they can learn these things.”
Esen was no different when she co-founded Iglo. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she had only worked in small architectural practices as a design and project architect. Two years into starting the business, more projects started coming in and there was a need to employ more architects. Soon after that, an administrative assistant was hired.
As the company grew it became clear to Esen that she needed to know more about contracts, business law, payrolls, tax calendars, managing cash flow, finding capital etc. She tried learning everything on her own, but it proved too difficult. After struggling for years, she came across 10,000 Women – an entrepreneurship program providing women entrepreneurs around the world with business management education, mentoring and networking. She attended their business management certificate program for women business owners in 2012.
It was Esen’s connections with 10,000 Women that led her to WEConnect International a year later. Since then she has been attending all of WEConnect International in Turkey’s trainings, which she believes equip her with better management skills and help her understand facts for running a business better.
For Esen, the benefits of being in the WEConnect International network went beyond training. In 2014, she was one of the very first women business owners in Turkey to sign a contract with a reference from WEConnect International, providing architectural and design services to the Royal Bank of Scotland in Istanbuls head office. The best thing is, the service still continues today. Iglo Architects very recently signed another contract with RBS to provide the design and construction services for the relocation of RBS offices in Levent/ISTANBUL and is also in process for an RFI with another global WEConnect International corporate member for factory construction.
“It is a pleasure and source of pride for me to show my partner (who became also my husband two years after we founded IGLO) the support that comes from women making each other stronger as well as making the men around them stronger,” says Esen. “It’s not a man’s world anymore. Women are working together and getting stronger.”