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Atil Kayhan (full name Ahmet Atil Kayhan) was born on Tuesday May 23rd, 1961 in Bartin Turkey. Located in the western Black Sea region, city of Bartin takes its name from Bartin River, which was called Parthenius in ancient times. Atil’s father Ismail Sadi Kayhan was a hard working doctor of internal medicine, and his mother Esin Kayhan was a caring housewife. He had spent his preschool years together with his brother Anil at their modest two-bedroom apartment on Karakas Caddesi (Karakas Street) in Bartin. Currently a medical doctor in Zonguldak Turkey, brother Anil Kayhan is 15 months younger than Atil. They enjoyed going to their grandfather’s glass and building supplies shop on the same street as their home. They also liked going to their grandmother’s and grandfather’s house very much.
Atil completed his five-year primary education between 1967 and 1972 at Cumhuriyet Ilkokulu (Cumhuriyet Primary School) in Bartin. He started his three-year secondary education in Bartin before his family moved to Kirikkale Ankara due to his father’s job at MKEK (Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation) in 1973. He continued the last two years of his secondary education at Kirikkale Lisesi. The family used to make daily trips to the capital Ankara by car on some of the weekends. They went to the MKEK pool to swim in the summer. They had their first TV (black & white CRT of course) in Kirikkale. Atil has always been an industrious student who put his classes above everything else.
Atil passed the highly competitive entrance examination of Robert College of Istanbul (high school) with flying colors in 1975. This was a big success considering the fact that he studied at Anatolian primary and secondary schools before. He studied at Robert College for four years as a boarding student, which was his first, and graduated with honors in May 1979. He made very good friends there, and still sees some of them. Founded in 1863 by Christopher Rhinelander Robert and Cyrus Hamlin, Robert College is the oldest American school outside the United States, and is the leading private high school in Turkey.
Atil took the competitive national university entrance examination together with his brother in Zonguldak, and was admitted into Bogaziçi University in Istanbul Turkey, where East meets West across the beautiful Bosphorus. He received his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering (July 1983) from Bogaziçi University. He was a TÜBITAK (the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) fellow and a boarding student there as well. Established in 1963, TÜBITAK is the leading agency for management, funding and conduct of research in Turkey. Bogaziçi University was officially established on September 10, 1971, and it is one of the best public universities in Turkey and a definite leader in Turkish higher education.
Deciding to continue his engineering education abroad, Atil went to Pennsylvania USA for graduate study in August 1983. This was his first trip outside of Turkey and a completely new life experience. After a lot of hard work, he earned his master’s in mechanical engineering (December 1984) and another master’s in industrial engineering (December 1986) from the University of Pittsburgh, which was founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 in a log cabin. His master’s thesis in mechanical engineering was published in International Journal for Numerical Methods in Fluids titled “Rotating Disk with Uniform Suction in Streaming Flow” in 1986. He had been a teaching assistant and a teaching fellow in the School of Engineering between January 1984 and December 1986. He supervised various experiments at mechanical and electrical measurements laboratory, and instructed many problem sessions for the undergraduate students in engineering. He financed his education in the United States through teaching & research along with other part-time jobs.
Completing his graduate education successfully in the United States of America, Atil returned to Turkey in the summer of 1987. His experience was that of true culture shock after having lived in the US for four years. Following a brief vacation with his family, he received a three-month basic military training at the army ordinance school in Balikesir Turkey. This compulsory military service applies to all male Turkish citizens albeit with a variable duration and some exceptions. He did not enjoy being in the military at all but he had to be. He was lucky that it was only for ninety days.
From August 1988 to October 1990, Atil worked as project engineer for a leading automotive company Ford Otosan A.S., a Ford Motor Company and Koç Holding joint venture in Istanbul Turkey, founded in 1959. He scheduled and coordinated initial sample inspection reports for parts belonging to passenger car and commercial vehicle facelift projects in quality control department. He applied statistical process control (SPC) techniques, and followed up on factory problems for the management. He attended the Management School at KOGEM (Koç Holding Training and Development Center) in 1989. He was also a highly successful quality circles leader in Ford Otosan, and facilitated many problem solving teams from production.
Atil was recruited by the tobacco company Philip Morris in November 1990 as one of the first seven engineers for their green field project in Izmir Turkey. He worked as training engineer for Philip Morris International between the years 1990 and 2004. Initially, he received comprehensive training on cigarette production at Philip Morris training and manufacturing centers in Richmond Virginia USA for a period of 21 months. He also trained the three Turkish training facilitators who were recently hired and arrived from Turkey. He later received training on cigarette quality and other aspects of cigarette making for three weeks in August 1992 in Neuchatel Switzerland.
Afterwards, Atil returned to Izmir Turkey for start-up of the production with local and expatriate staff in September 1992. He bought his first apartment (two-bedroom) in Izmir in 1992. He assessed and interviewed many applicants for technician positions together with human resources department, and recruited talented technicians. He ambitiously developed and delivered a large number of technical trainings on high-speed PLC (programmable logic controller) cigarette machines for more than one hundred factory technicians, and they met safety, quality and efficiency objectives. The cigarette making machines were namely Molins Mark 10N (9,000 cigarettes/minute) and GD 121 (10,000 cigarettes/minute). He also taught team building, communication analysis workshops and courseware to improve their soft skills. He devised and conducted work team surveys to evaluate the progress of teaming and empowerment. Atil’s and Anil’s father Sadi Kayhan passed away in Istanbul in 1994 as a result of a single car accident in which he was a pedestrian.
As the leader of work teams project team, Atil skillfully managed development and implementation of the work team concept at Philsa A.S., which was a pioneering work at Philip Morris. By the way, Philsa A.S. is the name of the Philip Morris production company in Turkey, which was established in 1991 as a joint venture of 75% Philip Morris and 25% Sabanci Holding of Turkey. The project team determined the composition of work teams, roles & responsibilities of team members, autonomy of teams, objectives and training of teams and so on.
Atil is well recognized as a certified Kepner-Tregoe program leader at Philip Morris International, and conducted Kepner-Tregoe analytic troubleshooting and Kepner-Tregoe problem solving decision making workshops in both English and Turkish. Headquartered in Princeton New Jersey, Kepner-Tregoe is an international company that analyzes and develops thinking processes for critical business applications. Atil trained many employees of Philip Morris operations in Hungary and Romania on the Kepner-Tregoe processes. He increased the overall productivity of Philip Morris International significantly by coaching more than four hundred people on Kepner-Tregoe principles to develop their critical thinking skills, making them more efficient and effective employees.
Atil worked as a freelance trainer, English-Turkish translator and interpreter starting 2004. He delivered problem solving decision making workshop for the European Union Business Center (Abigem) in Izmir. Established in 2002, Abigem supports Turkish small and medium enterprises by providing them with management and economic development services. He provided translations for a large number of clients both in Turkey and in the US. He is registered as an English-Turkish translator at ProZ website, which was founded in 1999 and serves the world’s largest community of translators.
Atil is a highly self-confident and independent perfectionist. He is a builder of systems and an applier of theoretical models. He is a strong strategic planner with the ability to think logically and systematically, and to put things on paper in a precise and through manner. He is methodical and persistent in creating detailed plans and following them to completion successfully. He is usually serious, and has some difficulty in engaging in play. His intellectual development seems to proceed at a faster rate than his social development. He is a hard and tireless worker with absolute determination. He is a high achiever in school and on the job. He takes the goals of an institution pretty seriously, and continually strives to respond fully to these goals. Contrary to many people, authority per se does not really impress him. He appreciates variety in all things. He prefers direct and honest communication.
Having lived on two completely different continents and countries, Atil is competent in adjusting to changing circumstances and cultures. He is usually satisfied with modest comfort, and does not have a passion for wealth. He values competence, efficiency and knowledge, and applies rather high standards of performance to himself as well as to others. Therefore, he often seems demanding and difficult to satisfy. Even though he enjoys intellectual disputes and puzzles, quarrelling on an emotional level is something he finds destructive, and tries to avoid. He is a natural brainstormer, always open to new concepts and aggressively seeking them. He makes a dedicated and loyal employee whose loyalty is directed toward the system. He has a strong need for autonomy and privacy. He does not like to be tied down. He wants harmony and order at home and in relationships. He sometimes has trouble distinguishing between his dreams of life and the actual reality.
Atil is a member of a few non-governmental organizations, including RKMD (Robert College Alumni Association) and past board membership at BÜMED (Bogaziçi University Alumni Association) Izmir. He enjoys traveling, listening to music, watching movies, reading, cycling, sailing, scuba diving, swimming and walking. He is single, and currently lives in Gaziemir Izmir Turkey.