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Siddik Turhalli
01/07/2022

How To Cultivate Your Talent

MSc alumnus Siddik Turhalli on WHU, venture capitalism, and making an impact

 

I came to Germany (Rostock) as a Kurdish refugee in 2001. We moved with the family to Dortmund, where I learned the German language relatively quickly through children’s books like “WasIstWas.”

It was in Germany where I soon discovered an affinity for sports, achieved a black belt in Taekwondo, and played in the national youth basketball league. After graduating high school, like many graduates, I had no idea what to do next. I began my studies at a public university (Ruhr University Bochum) in western Germany. I struggled with the teaching style and worked almost full-time to finance a semester abroad in Canada. I had absolutely no previous business exposure in consulting or finance. I learned a lot from fellow students during my semester abroad, including the great opportunities found by pursuing a degree at a business school.

What topics are you passionate about?

I am a big fan of social impact. I started my initiative, “EMPATHY,” where we grew from 2 to 40 members within three months. With the initiative, we want to enable an exchange between young people from different social backgrounds so they can gain new perspectives. We also provide educational events, mentoring, and financial support for students who need it. The goal is to systematically provide access for students limited by the framework of their social backgrounds to new experiences and knowledge.

Why did you choose WHU for your master’s degree?

Success is often about the circle of competence. Nowadays, gaps in knowledge can be somewhat solved through Google and a sense of curiosity. But what about the things you are not aware of? How can you ask questions about aspects of life you don’t even know to exist? This is where fellow students helped me and told me about top business schools like WHU. I love entrepreneurship and had already won a few business plan competitions; it was clear to me that I wanted to join the Master in Entrepreneurship program at WHU. That’s where the exponential growth of my knowledge really began.

How was your WHU experience?

I learned so much from the professors at WHU, guest lectures, and the other students. They had worked in various fields such as strategy consulting, investment banking, and venture capital. At the time, I had no idea about any of those industries. That’s when I realized that this was why I had chosen WHU. It broadened my perspective. I knew that with motivation and structure, I could develop my analytical skills and gain experience in strategy consultancies and private equity.

I actively received offers from employers I thought I never had a chance with. I kept working my way up professionally, and WHU was an essential part of that. The community, and the sense of cohesion, in my opinion, can’t be matched. It is not arrogant and competitive, as some out there might think. And I say that even though I come from a relatively socially disadvantaged area.

What interests you the most about entrepreneurship?

I pursued a career in venture capital because I am a curious person, and it allows you to develop professionally. Every day, you learn about innovations in vastly different markets, like health, real estate, finance, impact, and so much more. I thrive on helping ambitious founders change the world with investments.

It’s important to me to pass on the knowledge I’ve acquired to people who want to continue their education. At the London School of Economics, I was able to help top founders develop as a mentor. I supported a healthtech start-up in Africa, WiiQare, which won and received funding. I am also a lecturer at SMI (Steinbeis-Hochschule School of Management and Innovation), teaching entrepreneurship and venture capital finance.

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