Deniz Torcu: a curious rebel

Written on November 23, 2017 by Campus Life in IE Stories

Deniz Torcu
Director of Executive Programs at IE
Master in International Relations, 2014 intake
From: Trabzon, Turkey


“A curious rebel”. These two adjectives would be on the top of my professors’ list every time my parents would come to a teachers-parents meeting throughout my childhood and teenage years.

Born into a family of professors, I had the enormous luck of growing in the university campus where my mom taught history, in particular, the revolutionary first years of the Turkish Republic.

Curiosity is what killed the cat, so much I know. However the same curiosity led me to learn and try many things, amongst which was learning Spanish, which to my parents was one of the many crazy ideas that I had, since a typical Turk would go for German or French. Especially if you come from a family like mine: my grandparents had immigrated to Germany in the famous “gast-arbeiter” years in the 60s and ended up never coming back to the mother land.

Here comes the rebel part.

While everyone was expecting me to study some kind of engineering, I ended up studying economics, which is something that no one-not even myself saw coming. The result was four years of intense studying, where I’d also take any minute I’d have free to work on my Spanish, in Instituto de Cervantes, where I was known as a renowned freak for languages.

After completing my studies, the job offers had started to pour in-since I held a degree in economics and were fluent in many languages. All of those promised great salaries, great executive career paths, fancy suits-all the Spiegel.

The rebel strikes back.

The fact that my poor father did not have a heart attack when I told him that I was accepting a temporary job offer (a 2 months contract, to be exact) from Instituto de Cervantes to work on an exhibition between La Alhambra and Topkapi Palace instead still astonishes me to this day.

Little did I know that those 2 months would eventually become 5 years and transform me into a literary translator from Spanish into Turkish and have me translate 10 novels by the age of 28.

In a moment where everyone taught that I’d be staying at Instituto de Cervantes until retirement-curiosity got the best of me yet again. I decided to learn modern Greek, since my grandmother had roots from an ancient Greek community from the Black Sea-an experience that opened me to the world of anthropology and cultural heritage.

My growing interest in cultural heritage took me on a new journey at the Turkish National Commission for UNESCO, where I was in charge of monitoring the implementation of the seven cultural conventions of the organization within my country. A challenging task that took me to several countries and gave me a firsthand experience of working in an international community.

As you may already imagine by now, the minute I was expected to settle at my exciting job, I applied and received the equivalent of a Fullbright scholarship from the most prestigious educational organization in Turkey and the scholarship was for no other school than IE Business School.

You can imagine my happiness after completing my master in international relations, when I received the chance to stay on board within the staff and work for the institution, which I’ve known from my Cervantes years to be one of the world’s most renowned business schools.

For me IE is a tiny United Nations, where you can meet nearly any one from any country you may or may not imagine. The cultural richness is also reflected in the business ethic, which relies on mutual conversation and understanding-two values so crucial yet so missing from many places within our world. Being part of the IE family goes way beyond than working as an admissions or program manager-it’s being part of an international family where each family member is trying their best with passion to make sure that you never stop growing both professionally and personally.

It’s an honor to be part of a young, dynamic, diverse and forward looking institution where every day is a new opportunity to learn something new. Reinventing higher education is not a simple marketing act, it is our day to day mission here at IE Business School.

For a curious rebel such as myself, I cannot think of a better home.

Bio: Deniz Torcu is the Director of Executive Programs within IE Business School Executive Education. She holds a degree in economics and two master degrees, in European Union Studies and International Relations. She identifies as Turk-although is always curious about her Greek-Georgian roots. Fluent in English, Spanish, Greek and German and highly ashamed of her rusty French, Deniz is currently thinking about a new language to conquer. She enjoys anything related to history, literature, politics, music, cinema and traveling.


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