İstanbul Economics Our Team İstanbul Economics Our Team

Our Team

Our team includes some of the most experienced, knowledgeable and passionate professionals in the industry.

Our team of leading economists, legal and policy consultants work in a singular capacity and integrated approach to match the needs of our clients across the business cycle. We also cooperate with prominent national and international industry experts and academics on a project basis to offer our clients the most effective solutions.

Sinan Ülgen
Founder & Managing Partner
A founding partner of Istanbul Economics, he is also the chairman of the think tank Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM). In the early 1990s, he joined the Turkish Foreign Service as a career diplomat and worked for two years at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara at the United Nations desk. He was posted to the Turkish Permanent Delegation to the European Union in Brussels where he became a member of the Turkish negotiations team for the Turkey-EU Customs Union. He is a regular contributor to Turkish dailies and his opinion pieces have also been published by international media such as The International New York Times, Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Mithat Özbek
Managing Partner
A managing partner of Istanbul Economics, he was the deputy director general at Puccinelli, a company operating in the food and beverage industry and then the managing director of the UK based paper and packaging company David S. Smith in Turkey. He worked for 10 years for David S. Smith in this capacity. Following the acquisition of the local branch of the company by Sabanci/International Paper owned Olmuksa, he joined the senior management of Olmuksa. He is a member of several leading NGOs. Mithat Özbek holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Hacettepe University and an MBA from the joint program of Istanbul Technical University and Exeter University.
Pınar Ersen
General Manager
Pınar Ersen graduated from the Department of Economics of Middle East Technical University in 1993. Between 2000-2002, she completed her master's degree in Finance under the MBA program of Hofstra University, USA. Before joining Istanbul Economics in September 2022, Pınar Ersen has had over 25 years of government and diplomatic experience at the Turkish Ministry of Trade. Her areas of expertise cover bilateral trade negotiations and Turkey-EU Customs Union as well as a large number of trade and investment related policy areas. Between 2015 and 2019, she was the Chief Commercial Counsellor at the Permanent Delegation of Turkey to the European Union in Brussels. Prior to that, she was the Head of Department for the Ministry of Economy between 2009 and 2015. Between August 2019-2022, Ersen assumed the role of Senior Expert at the Ministry of Trade Directorate General of International Agreements and EU Affairs.
Naz Değirmenci
Senior Counsel, Legal Affairs & Public Policy
Naz Değirmenci graduated from Bilkent University Faculty of Law in 2012 and joined the Istanbul Bar Association in 2013. She earned the European Privacy Certification (CIPP/E) from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) in 2015. Through working at leading law firms, namely ELIG Gürkaynak Attorneys-at-Law and BTS&Partners, she specialized in information technology, media and communications law with a focus on social media, privacy and personal data protection. As EDAM's Google Policy Fellow, she published papers on disruptive technologies, personal data protection, international transfer of data, social media law and freedom of speech. She joined Istanbul Economics in 2019 as Senior Counsel, advising multinational and local companies operating in the technology and media/entertainment sector by providing legal compliance, public policy and government relations.
Yeşil Sakaoğlu
Senior Policy Manager
Before joining Istanbul Economics, Yeşil Sakaoğlu was Government Affairs Manager at AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce) Turkey, leading all public affairs and positive communication strategies for more than 100 U.S. companies operating in Turkey. She advised companies from various sectors, including healthcare, technology and FMCG. She previously worked at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM) and international organizations, including the World Bank and the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), and has published papers on cyber rights and EU-Turkey relations. Yeşil Sakaoğlu completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) with a focus on development. Her finishing dissertation delivered a comparative analysis on FDI for different investor equations.
Ebru Altunkum
Office Manager
With more than 15 years of professional experience, Ebru Altunkum supports and oversees all administration and procedures to ensure organizational effectiveness and efficiency.