Meet our Fellows: Keri Arslancan T’21March 5th, 2021
Southern California & Turkey…I spent so much time living and working in Turkey that it is as much a reflection of who I am as my time spent in Southern California.
What did you do prior to Tuck?
Right after university, I started in TV research at Sony then moved to Turkey in 2011 and found a position at Fox. During my time at Fox, which was acquired by The Walt Disney Company during my last year, I helped manage the strategy for local TV channels in Turkey. My role had many hats, but I was primarily focused on business development and business planning, allowing me to work across different functions and regions!
Why did you choose Tuck?
The people! I had many conversations with students from other business schools; while I was grateful they took time to speak with me, our conversations did not come naturally. On the other hand, my conversations with current and recently-graduated Tuck students seemed incredibly genuine, which was a completely different experience. I’m grateful that I’m still in touch with those people, who range from T’16s to T’19s.
One Tuckie that I spoke with many times was Monique Alves T’17. At Tuck, she was a CDS Fellow and part of the Consortium (two organizations that had been on my radar during my application). During fall of my first year, I was in San Francisco for the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Deep Dive and she actually came for a TuckTails – I finally got to meet her in person!
Do you have any post-Tuck plans yet? If so, what are they?
I will be returning to BCG New York, where I spent my summer.
What made you want to be part of the CDS MBA Fellows Program?
I wanted to be involved with the CDS and surround myself with like-minded people who were also prioritizing the role and impact of digital. After experiencing my first-year as a CDS Associate, I knew the Center would push different perspectives than mine, while discussing and (potentially) disagreeing on contemporary, strategically-focused conversation topics.Tech is no longer its own silo, and understanding and prudently acting on that knowledge is essential. My CDS commitment keeps me accountable during this very busy time (somehow I’m still running from meeting to meeting) using something that truly matters to me: seeking knowledge and continuously learning about new perspectives.
What is the best part about being involved with the CDS?
(Surprisingly or possibly not), the people! On February 14, 2020, I joined the CDS and Center for Business Governance and Society (CBGS) for an experiential learning trip to Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont. From start to finish, the trip was fun and informative. In the morning, we met with the Head of Global Digital Marketing and the Head of Global Activism. Both leaders shared various ways Ben & Jerry’s combines social activism with digital marketing strategies. We started with a very business-focused conversation, got to know our peers from the CBGS, had some ice cream, then had lunch together in Burlington. The day was enriching from both an educational and personal standpoint, and probably was one of my favorite Valentine’s Days, ever!
What other activities are you involved in at Tuck?
I’m a Co-Chair for the Consulting Club, Co-Chair of the Entertainment, Sports, & Media (ESM) Club, and I’m also a Fellow with Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital.
What has been the biggest growth moment or moment where you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?
One of my growth moments was this past term’s CWP (Communicating with Presence), where we all shared a variety of stories (from the very silly to the incredibly vulnerable). Many of the activities in the “classroom” pushed me out of my comfort zone to the point where I had to be vulnerable while learning to communicate more openly, which was more than I was typically comfortable with.
I struggle with being that candid in a public setting and even in a small community like Tuck, where I know most of my classmates. Since the class, however, I’ve been less reluctant to speak up and have learned to trust myself more.
What speaker(s) have you learned the most from in your time at Tuck?
The experience and breadth of speakers we had during the CDS and the Center for Health Care (CHC) Digital Safari in during Fall 2020 stands out. I loved how transparent and unfiltered our guests were with their thoughts, reflections, and actions. It added an additional dimension to the content and conversations, in a way that news articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos don’t provide.
What books are you reading, podcasts are you listening to, or shows are you watching?
I’m a BIG fan of all things entertainment. I’m currently enjoying the podcast “Hidden Brain” by NPR and hosted by Shankar Vedantam. Another interesting podcast is “Wind of Change” that has to do with the KGB, the Cold War, and espionage!
As for books, I’ve got a few different ones that I’m working through right now. Keeping with the spy/espionage genre is The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre and recommended by Joe McDonald in the CDS. My old boss is a big fan of the British espionage writer John le Carré, and Carré called this book “the best true spy story I have ever read.” Then there is Throne of Glass series, which is one I’ve read before, but I enjoy young adult fantasy. I also find that re-reading books before bed, after a tough day, helps calm my mind. I’m working through Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, and I am listening to the audiobook version of Albert Camus’ The Stranger. I’m still going! 33 Strategies of War is great so far, and last but not least, I just finished listening to Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.
You lived abroad for a long time in Turkey before coming back to the United States for business school. What thoughts or advice would you give to anyone on a similar path?
There are so many quotes that mention something like, “if you only speak one language, you are only reading one book”. I didn’t really understand the weight and gravity of those quotes until I left my comfort zone of my small bubble in Southern California for Turkey.
Coming to Tuck was so much more rewarding because of that change in perspective that I had developed living in another country and working in a different language. That experience taught me to be more empathetic, reflect more, have more meaningful conversations, and that sometimes the unknown is the best place to explore. I developed a multi-dimensional perspective that I didn’t have before, and I would not be the person I am today without that detour. Many people advised me not to move, and I am thankful I listened to my intuition.
You’ve said before that you’re a bit older than some of your peers at Tuck. What perspective has that given you in your time here?
I’m about 4-5 years older than Tuck’s “average age.” Prior to meeting my fellow Tuck classmates, I was concerned that I would be either out-grouped or not able to connect with them. Fortunately, human nature pushes connection. Through some reflection, I realized that perspective was an unrealized fear. Flash forward to today, the majority of my friends are within that average age group, and I could not imagine a better group of individuals!