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Pursuing Growth: Didem Karpuzcu, MBA ’16
Pursuing Growth: Didem Karpuzcu, MBA ’16

A true global citizen, Didem Karpuzcu has always been seeking out new environments that would challenge her to grow professionally and as a person. Through the MBA program, she developed that attitude into a valuable skill set.

As Global Product Manager at Blount International, Didem Karpuzcu is in charge of accessories for a product she had not even seen before taking on the position: chainsaws. “In Turkey, where I grew up, most people don’t have that kind of toolbox,” she explains.

The type of product she’d manage was not something Didem was attached to when she began exploring her next career chapter about two years ago. For her, it has always been about the challenge of navigating new terrain and working with a diverse team of interesting people.

The MBA at Portland State represented just such a challenge: a new city, the chance to meet people from a wide range of backgrounds, and an opportunity to further level up her business skills.

Getting her MBA had long been on Didem’s list. As she was working her way up the ranks of a large company – first in Turkey and then transferring to offices in Belgium and Florida – Didem decided to go for it before she would move into a position that might be too hard to give up.

While she was admitted to schools on the East Coast as well, Didem felt that Portland State was the right fit for her:

“I am a competitive person, but I knew I would not be happy in an aggressive MBA program. Portland State values community; it’s not just about getting ahead of others.”

Among her MBA cohort, Didem was excited to collaborate with people ranging in age from their late 20s to about 60, and including seven or eight nationalities. Although Didem already had real-world experience working with different people and enormous appreciation for diversity, it wasn’t always easy to collaborate with such contrasting personalities. Fortunately, Didem isn’t about having it easy – and neither is Portland State’s MBA program. It intentionally dares students to do the deep work required to develop a level of self-awareness and discernment that will serve them well throughout their careers as business leaders.

Didem took advantage of the opportunity to sharpen her collaboration and negotiation skills while building up her aptitude for strategic thinking and fostering connections in the local business community.

“In the MBA program, you don’t just learn from the curriculum,” she reflects. “It’s just as much about gaining insight from your peers and from professors with industry experience.”

Backing up her open-minded ambition with leadership skills, Didem felt confident in applying to the position at Blount. It offered just the right balance of new and familiar: She would be able to build on her expertise while moving up to a higher level in management and venturing into a very different industry and culture.

Besides her tangible skills, Blount also clearly valued the fresh perspective and bold attitude Didem brought to the table – two threads that run through Didem’s entire resume. “I could have just stayed at home and not challenge myself in this way,” she says, “but I think it pays off. It gives you perspective and allows you to grow.”

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