Empowering Leadership: Dr. PCC Selma Kalkavan’s Journey in Business, Mentorship, and Inclusion

Meet Dr. PCC Selma Kalkavan, a seasoned professional with over 24 years of experience in diverse sectors, ranging from Strategic Planning and System Development to Human Resources and Organizational Development. Holding the position of Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) at Unifree Dutyfree, Istanbul, Selma is not just a corporate leader but a multifaceted individual embracing roles as a mother, daughter, sister, academic, coach, supervisor, author, and facilitator.

Professional Journey:

Selma’s journey is a testament to her dedication and expertise. Armed with academic knowledge and a wealth of experience, she has pioneered innovative Human Resources projects, aligning HR strategies with organizational goals. Her strengths, including Achiever, Relator, Learner, Focus, and Significance, drive her passion for leadership, evident in her roles as a lecturer, researcher, and author.

Unifree Dutyfree:

At Unifree Dutyfree, Selma leads a team of 70 experts, managing HR and internal communication processes for approximately 2500 employees. Amidst rapid growth, her team focuses on creating an inclusive organizational climate where employees thrive. Unifree’s success story, especially during the post-pandemic reactivation, speaks volumes about Selma’s strategic HR leadership.

Inspiration and Career Beginnings

Selma’s career began in the Research and Development department of insurance companies. Her journey was marked by impactful projects that shaped her systematic understanding of various issues. Her dedication and innovative approaches garnered recognition, making her a respected leader in her field.

A highlight of Selma’s career was receiving acknowledgment from a CEO she had worked with previously. Her approach and results continued to inspire others, showcasing the lasting impact of her work.

Remarkably, Selma’s career path was not hindered by gender-related challenges. Working in environments that prioritize courtesy, respect, and understanding, she thrived as a professional, breaking stereotypes and leading with excellence.

Selma effortlessly balances her leadership role, academic pursuits, writing, coaching, and motherhood, thanks to the unwavering support of her mother. Each role in her life adds unique meaning, fueling her energy and motivation.

In essence, Selma Kalkavan exemplifies resilience, innovation, and leadership, not just in the corporate world but in every facet of her life. Her story is one of inspiration, proving that with passion, dedication, and unwavering support, one can navigate diverse roles, leaving an indelible mark on every path chosen.

Mentorship and Influence:

Selma Kalkavan’s journey is not just her own; it’s also shaped by the remarkable women who influenced her path. Mentors like Özlem Rodoslu and Tülin Seçen provided her with invaluable support and a holistic life perspective. Selma’s mentors didn’t just guide her professionally; they instilled in her resilience and a systemic view of life, contributing significantly to her leadership style.

Selma’s dedication to empowering women extends beyond her role as an HR leader. She actively engages with young female employees and leaders, offering guidance and being a listening ear. Her involvement in initiatives like the 2023 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business showcases her commitment to celebrating the achievements of women globally, fostering a culture of recognition and empowerment.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Gender Equality:

Selma’s advocacy for diversity and inclusion is evident in Unifree Dutyfree’s commitment to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles. Under her leadership, Unifree actively promotes products from women suppliers and cooperatives, facilitating women’s career growth across all levels within the organization. Unifree’s dedication is reflected in their statistics: 42% of new hires and 37% of total employees are women, with 50% representation in the Executive Board.

Challenges and Support for Women in Leadership:

Recognizing the unique challenges women face, especially in the constantly connected world of 2023, Selma emphasizes the importance of coaching and mentoring. She advocates for support during significant life events, ensuring that women, particularly those who are parents, do not navigate these phases alone. According to Selma, organizations must understand that supporting their female workforce during crucial life moments is an investment in their well-being and, subsequently, their performance.

Advice to Young Women in Business:

Selma’s advice to young women entering the business world is both empowering and practical. She encourages them to actively invest in their personal and professional development, embracing interdisciplinary knowledge. Most importantly, she emphasizes self-appreciation, suggesting a powerful daily practice to recognize and celebrate their achievements, fostering a positive self-image.

Recommended Resource:

Selma’s unique recommendation is an application for self-improvement, emphasizing the importance of self-appreciation. This daily practice serves as a reminder of one’s strengths, encouraging a positive mindset and self-recognition.

Selma Kalkavan’s story is not just about breaking barriers and climbing the corporate ladder; it’s about nurturing a supportive environment for women to thrive. Through mentorship, advocacy, and self-appreciation, Selma exemplifies how women can empower each other, creating a future where gender equality isn’t just a goal but a reality.