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Dr. Riza Kadilar

Dr. Riza Kadilar: The Visionary Banker Who Became a Global Catalyst for Growth  

30 Years of Banking, Leadership, Coaching, and Tech-Driven Investments! 

Change is, by its nature, neither good nor bad; it simply is. It’s a force of nature, a fact of existence, and the driving engine of progress. Resisting change is like trying to stop the tide from coming in; it’s an exercise in futility. But what if we shift our perspective and see change not as a challenge but as an opportunity?

Dr. Riza Kadilar is one such visionary who has seamlessly traversed the spheres of banking, training, coaching, and mentoring. With a background deeply rooted in banking, he’s been a senior banking executive as an approved person by regulatory authorities in the U.K., the Netherlands, France, and Turkey. His career unfolds like an exciting novel, filled with chapters of creating, merging, and closing various international banking entities. It’s a journey through the complexities of the financial world, where he’s navigated the challenging waters of establishment, mergers, and closures with a steady hand.

But there’s more to this multifaceted professional. Early in his career, Dr. Riza recognized the importance of human capital development. His journey into leadership development and training began with him earning the title of ‘Leading International Training Fellow’ at Junior Chamber International, followed by delivering training sessions in numerous countries. This experience fuelled his entrepreneurial spirit, leading him to establish companies that became market leaders in leadership development training. A visiting professor at prestigious universities, he also had the privilege of mentoring and guiding younger generations.

As an advocate for continuous learning and growth, he delved into the world of coaching during his tenure in London. Over a decade, he honed his coaching skills while serving as a business leader. But it was during the international financial crisis that he expanded his horizons. He completed advanced training not only in coaching but also in various fields of psychology, such as gestalt, CBT, TA, and positive psychology. In the process, he embraced the concept of developmental mentoring while chairing the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) in Turkey.

Dr. Riza’s global perspective shines through in his current role as President at EMCC Global and also at RK Academy. Based in Amsterdam, he’s been at the forefront of the coaching and mentoring landscape. His career isn’t just about finance; it’s about the development of individuals and organizations, transcending borders and cultures.

But that’s not all. He has diversified his portfolio by investing in tech-driven scale-ups. His unique blend of access to capital and international business acumen has positioned him as a sought-after advisor to the leadership teams of these companies. He’s a believer in technology and its potential to advance humanity.

Below are the interview highlights:

Impressive Background

 He holds a Ph.D. in Economics and has an impressive educational background. He earned his BSc degree in Industrial Engineering from METU and went on to obtain his MSc degree from Stanford University. He also completed an MBA at HEC, Paris, and an executive management course on banking at INSEAD. Additionally, he has advanced-level diplomas in executive coaching and mentoring and has recently participated in online programs on leadership in the digital age at Columbia Business School and INSEAD. Throughout his professional career, Dr. Riza has gained extensive experience in senior-level bank management roles in the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Turkey. Between 2006 and 2020, he served as the senior country manager and representative for Turkey at NATIXIS.

Before this, he worked as the deputy CEO at a merchant bank in London from 2002 to 2006, as a management board member of a trade finance bank in Amsterdam from 1998 to 2002, and as the head of corporate banking and financial institutions at a Turkish bank in Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. During his time in the banking industry, he has successfully established five entities, led the restructuring of three subsidiaries in various European jurisdictions, and closed down two subsidiaries and three representative offices. His exceptional track record demonstrates consistent business and profitability growth throughout his career, with no incidents related to credit, compliance, reputation, or operations.

In addition to his professional endeavors, he holds several voluntary positions. He currently serves as the global president of the EMCC Global (Brussels), scientific committee member at the Institut du Bosphore (Paris), president of the TUSIAD Netherlands Task Force (Amsterdam), and board member at the Hisar Education Foundation (Istanbul). He also provides business development advisory services and executive coaching and training to a select number of prominent corporate clients. Furthermore, he is an active investor in startups, particularly in the field of agri-food technology. He is the author of five published books and regularly contributes to Bloomberg Businessweek Turkey and Harvard Business Review (HBR Turkey).

As a visiting professor at leading universities, Dr. Riza has shared his expertise with students and delivered motivational speeches in over thirty countries during the past twenty years. His vast knowledge and experience make him a highly respected figure in the fields of economics and business.

 EMCC Global and RK Academy

 He explained that the organization, formerly known as the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, is a global professional body that focuses on developing, promoting, and setting the expectation of best practices in mentoring, coaching, and supervision. With its origins in the U.K. in 1992, EMCC Global has now become the go-to body worldwide for coaching, mentoring, and supervision. On the other hand, RK Academy is an online platform that aims to provide individual learning portfolios for professionals around the globe. The academy offers training in areas such as inclusiveness and diversity, leadership in the digital age, mentoring and coaching, as well as a wide range of online learning resources. These resources are designed to enhance the much-needed leadership skills of its followers. Additionally, the academy serves as a platform for Dr. Riza to deliver keynote speeches at corporate events.

Furthermore, he has another outlet called K Ventures in the Netherlands. Through this platform, he provides advisory support to clients in the fields of access to finance, international business development, and coaching and mentoring services to enhance their human capital resources. K Ventures also acts as a vehicle to filter Dr. Riza’s investment portfolio, focusing particularly on food and agri-tech, mobility, and blockchain-driven initiatives.

Financing Flagship Projects

During his tenure as a senior banker, Dr. Riza had the opportunity to finance several significant projects. These included flagship infrastructure projects such as the award-winning Çanakkale Bridge, Haliç crossing, and various metro lines in Istanbul, Turkey.

Additionally, he financed projects like the A15/A20 Blankenburg link in the Netherlands, numerous aircraft for leading airlines, and major industrial complexes like Star Refinery, TUPRAS residual upgrade, and power plants in Turkey, as well as various European and African countries. It is worth mentioning that Dr. Riza’s career as a senior banker was also shaped by his involvement in the initiation and design of covered bond programs for Turkish banking institutions and various international capital markets activities. These projects have not only provided significant benefits for local and international society but have also contributed to improving energy efficiency and supporting the transition to low-carbon initiatives, positively impacting our planet.

Achieving Global Leadership  

Dr. Riza believes that the greatest treasure on earth lies in the human personality, and this belief shapes their leadership style. They aim to bring out the best in every person they work with by creating an environment where they can flourish and be the best version of themselves. This is only possible when teammates feel respected, heard, seen, and secure. He acknowledges that in the past, it was relatively easier to achieve this with homogenous teams. However, anecdotal data and scientific evidence have proven that diversity brings amazing advantages to teams when supported by a high degree of inclusion.

Therefore, Dr. Riza’s leadership style extends beyond their relationship with the organization’s leadership team to ensure that these principles prevail among all stakeholders. He adheres to two other main principles in his leadership. The first is based on the saying that partnerships are not created by partners but by common goals. The second principle is that you can bring the horse to the water, but you cannot make them drink it.

During their tenure as president of the organization, EMCC experienced substantial growth. They expanded their reach from a European legacy to covering the world, including the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions. Membership increased from four thousand to over fifteen thousand, accredited practitioners grew from just over one thousand to more than fourteen thousand, and cash reserves multiplied from limited resources to seven-digit figures. They aligned their accreditation process with global higher education frameworks and collaborated with major institutions like the European Commission to contribute to lifelong learning opportunities in all communities.

They implemented micro-credentialing and enabled individual learning portfolios for every individual. Additionally, they commissioned and conducted ground-breaking academic research to demonstrate how coaching and mentoring support personal effectiveness in the current era of change. Dr. Riza and their teamwork with partners and stakeholders aim to enable an inclusive society capable of addressing climate challenges and digital transformation.

All these achievements have been made possible thanks to the dedicated volunteers from all over the world who are working tirelessly to make the world a better place. He attributes their inclusive and facilitative leadership style as a catalyst for these accomplishments.

Training and Coaching Worldwide

He has delivered keynote speeches, training, and mentoring/coaching in over 30 countries. His programs have reached more than ten thousand participants. While the core of his approach and teachings remain consistent, he recognized early on in his career that ‘one size does not fit all.’ Cultural factors, including national, regional, and even family-based sub-cultures, greatly influence how people perceive the world and react to it. Therefore, in his training, Dr. Riza not only shares his contextual wisdom to inspire trainees, coachees, mentees, and participants, but he also empowers them to design their paths and navigate their unique way of life.

Advanced Coaching Certifications

Dr. Riza began his journey in coaching in 1998 when he first delved into NLP. While serving as the deputy CEO of a small bank in London in the early 2000s, he received his first accredited training in coaching. The co-active method served as his gateway into this fascinating realm. During the global financial crisis, he pursued advanced-level coaching training and delved into in-depth studies at various psychology schools.

Among the various areas of coaching, Gestalt proved to be the most impactful for Dr. Riza, as it taught him about reflective practice and how to navigate resistance to change. The concept of the paradox of change, which emphasizes the importance of effectively addressing resistance, still plays a crucial role in his coaching style. He has also found great value in human-centric models and the applications of positive psychology. Additionally, transactional analysis has provided him with a unique perspective that can be applied to any human interaction to understand the impact of relationships.

In the early days of his coaching career, he focused primarily on achieving results and seeking the “aha moment.” However, as time went on, he realized that this mindset could inadvertently feed his ego as a coach or mentor. Instead, he now finds comfort in remaining invisible and refraining from claiming credit for the success of his coachees.

The most significant impact of his learning experiences occurred when Dr. Riza effectively applied them to his own life. He strongly believes in the 3 C’s of coaching: curiosity, courage, and compassion. As he incorporates these principles into his inner dialogue, he has noticed that his coaching becomes more beneficial and effective for his coachees.

Leading Multicultural Teams

Dr. Riza’s leadership methodology is characterized by inclusivity, facilitation, vision, and motivation. His primary objective is to cultivate an environment in which each member of the team not only feels secure and enabled to perform optimally but also enjoys the palpable sense of being respected, heard, and duly acknowledged. His stewardship at EMCC Global demonstrates a profound sensitivity to the intricate interplay of cultures when collaborating with a globally dispersed team. Moreover, he generously imparts insightful anecdotes from his wealth of experience in mentoring, thereby serving as a potential fount of inspiration for those under his mentees.

Navigating Challenging Leadership

Dr. Riza shared a story about a tricky leadership situation he faced when working with a diverse global team. He stressed how important it is to have a variety of viewpoints in a team to make decision-making more interesting and well-rounded. However, he pointed out that challenges can arise when the team becomes too similar in their thinking. In such situations, they might prioritize external interests over what’s best for the organization.

He gave examples of times when the team had disagreements on important issues like the COVID pandemic, ‘black lives matter,’ ‘MeToo,’ ‘climate action,’ and the situation in Ukraine. To overcome these challenges, he uses a clever technique during board meetings called the ’empty chair.’ This approach encourages inclusivity and effectiveness by considering different perspectives on any given issue.

Managing and Motivating Teams

Dr. Riza’s perspective on managing and motivating teams to achieve consistent results can be likened to that of a farmer. According to Dr. Riza, “As a farmer, when you don’t get the yield you want, you don’t start getting mad with your seeds. Of course, the seed is very important, but all external factors and its match and relationship with its environment are even more important. This perspective is a guiding principle when I’m leading. So my focus is first to choose the team members that would best fit our common goals, and then to ensure that we sustain an enabling environment.”

Staying Informed in Banking and Leadership

Dr. Riza regularly attends online certificate programs offered by prestigious universities. Additionally, he is actively involved in leading think tanks and professional circles. To find effective solutions, he believes in engaging in genuine dialogue with industry leaders. His non-executive board positions and advisory roles provide valuable insights, particularly when accompanied by honest and open exchanges of wisdom, data, and perspectives.