Ozlem Denizmen, Founding Chair, Financial Literacy and Inclusion Association

I have always shaped myself according to my values and set goals to realise those values. Instead of focusing on social prejudices, I set my own goals. I recommend this to all women: Guide your life according to your goals; not according to the dictates of others!
Ozlem Denizmen is an opinion leader on women empowerment in Turkey. Ozlem is also focused on financial literacy and inclusion and enterpreneurship of women. In 2010 Denizmen launched ‘Para Durumu’, a multi-media platform that reaches out to the masses with the aim to increase financial literacy in Turkey. Denizmen is also the Founding Chair of the Financial Literacy and
Inclusion Association, FODER (2013). Denizmen is the first Turkish person to be a Board Member of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and was also chosen as a Young Global Leader in World Economic Forum in 2011 and “White House Delegate” at the 2010 OBAMA’ Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. Denizmen is a graduate  (Industrial Management) of Cornell University, holds an MBA, MIT Sloan School of Management. She has worked in various financial institutions, first starting out as a “Financial Analyst” at Merrill Lynch, then Garanti Investment Bank in Turkey. She is currently Head of Strategy, Dogus Group, Member of Board, Dogus Otomotiv and dogus Oto. She is also a writer and has 3 published titles: “Kartlarınla Mucize Yarat” Create Miracle with your cards, “Cebinde Mucize Yarat” Create Miracle in Your Pocket, and “Bolluk ve Bereket için Yer Aç” Make Space for Abundance and Prosperity.


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I have never shaped myself or my thoughts according to others values. During the time I was a top manager in corporate life, I declared a value most people did not even know in Turkey. I embarked on a mission to teach women, youth, children, all layers in a family, the idea of having budgets, the concept of financial literacy, wıth the idea that  if you manage your money, you can manage your life. Since that day, via my TV programs, my magazine and newspaper writings, my books and through the seminars I have given, I have been able to reach millions of people. I knew though that raising financial literacy could not be achieved by myself alone.

So I founded the company Para Durumu and the Association FODER. Thus I had the opportunity to raise and teach this concept in a mass movement. These were all firsts for Turkey. This was also naturally a first for women. 

I have always shaped myself according to my values and set goals to realise those values. Instead of focusing on social prejudices, I set my own goals. I recommend this to all women: Guide your life according to your goals; not according to the dictates of others!



According to research conducted, closing down the inequality amongst women and male workers in a country has the potential to effects its GDP by 25%. And the same research also shows that having women leaders effect equity profitability by 41%, and operation results by 56%. Which means the company’s performances increases. Consequently women not being in managerial roles affect companies and countries profitability directly. On the other hand, women posses much more analytical minds, their way of assessing risk, and their leadership styles are positively influencing the financial sector.  Even this, should be a reason to open doors for women in upper management roles.



I believe and work actively to promote the idea that women should not just be managers in the finance sector but in all sectors, for a sustainable economy. I try to do my best to solve problems this caused by inequality whenever I am confronted with it. Apart from the seminars I give, I am also a independent board member of Ëquality at Work and Women Directors of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies’ projects. I believe that you will be successful at what you actively participate in.



Financial literacy, is a new concept for our country. In developing countries like Turkey, this concept becomes even more important. According to OECD data, financial literacy in Turkey is very low. Not having enough financial literate awareness and infrastructures affects the economic sustainability of a country. With rising financial literacy amongst individuals and families, a country’s economy will be built upon a stronger foundation, and the general population will find better ways to avoid economic crises. As a result, financial literacy has a domino effect starting from the individual to the whole nation.



The biggest risk I ever took was to leave the comfort of corporate life and go after what I believed in, becoming a social entrepreneur, addressing larger audiences in front of a screen.
Every choice you make in life is a risk. But if you know and believe in the risk you are taking, apart from it being motivating, its success is a given. With the choices I have taken I have had the opportunity to share what I learned with women and youth, touching many lives in the process. Now I can easily say I’m happy to have taken that risk.



I believe the most important leadership qualification a leader should have is belief, more than overall capability. Every move you make should be realistic and reasonable. As the leader, you should first believe in the topic that you are preaching about. If you don’t, no-one else will. That’s why I am always on platforms that represent my beliefs. This has consequently taken me into leadership in those topics. And my leadership style is such that I am the person who brings all parties together, acting as a bridge between them, making them talk and giving them responsibility.



“There’s always enough time, as long as you use it correctly.” This proverb from Goethe is not just a saying for me. I live with this understanding. Time is not a matter to be accumulated but a matter to be handled sparingly. If I use my time correctly and meaningfully, I have enough time to handle all I mean to finish without problems. I always know where and what I will be doing a month later. I like to spend time with my family, when I’m not working. Then I concentrate on topics that feed me physically and mentally.



My biggest dream in life is to make all women in the world financial literate and that women and men work in equal conditions. I see this as a movement starting from Turkey, spreading in the world. This is a never-ending story and my mission will not end until the goal is reached. In five years time,  I see myself as considerably having achieved this goal. 



I actively use social media here. So the first thing I would take is my smart phone, you can manage all of these topics with the technology offered with them. As an individual with financial literacy as a mission, I would be sure that I have enough money with me. I may have a very busy schedule, but I always create time to read so I always have the book I’m reading at the moment when I leave the house.


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