“Hulki Alisbah was an incredible person...”
As well as being a close friend, Hulki Alisbah was an exemplary manager, who I knew to be industrious and efficient with a meticulous and thorough work ethic. We worked together for 26 years from 1949 to 1975. In the following years, he served on the executive boards of companies in the Koç Group as well as in the Foundation management; we were together without a pause until his death. Our friendship had begun much earlier. Before coming to us, Hulki Alisbah had given 26 years of service to the state. He came to us as an extremely experienced and knowledgeable bureaucrat who had distinguished himself as Ziraat Bank Assistant General Manager, and as General Manager of the Turkish Grain Board, Sümerbank and İller Bank. In our early founding years, when there was a shortage of experienced people, Hulki Alisbah was one of the advisors from whom I derived the most benefit. It was a huge boon to have at my side someone of such maturity who had vast experience of the highest echelons of government financial bodies. I consulted Hulki Alisbah on all my major initiatives and followed his advice. During the second half of the 1940s, I discussed every economic issue I took to the Party Caucus with him and Cafer Tüzel beforehand so I didn’t upset İsmet Pasha [İsmet İnönü]. In those days, he was still working for the state and he was one of the few people whose opinions I could rely on. I used to invite him to my house and he’d come along; we were at most three to four people. We would talk at length about the economic woes of our country and discuss the remedies. Right back then, he drew my attention for his ability to view matters from a wide perspective and offer consistently rational and practical suggestions.
He came to us in 1949 after his retirement and became General Manager of Koç Ticaret AŞ. Over the 26 years that we worked together, he made a huge contribution to the growth of the Koç Group. He did the preparatory work on the Koç Holding project and was also instrumental in giving it its final shape. He supported and developed my idea to set up a foundation to institutionalize our social endeavors, preparing the Foundation’s deed of trust himself. We always benefited from his knowledge and experience when we were setting up our large industrial enterprises; in short, Hulki Alisbah had been an inseparable part of us. Our companionship lasted until 1975, the year he completed his 52nd year of work. We lost him on May 1, 1985. He was still one of my closest friends and his death brought me great pain. Something of yourself is buried and disappears whenever someone you love dies.
Vehbi Koç, Hatıralarım Görüşlerim Öğütlerim (Recollections, Observations, Counsel), Vehbi Koç Vakfı Yayınları, Istanbul, 1987, pp. 40-41