AHMET HAMDI ATALAY

Turkey 2020 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

HAVELSAN produces a range of defense industry products for Turkey and its allies, including cybersecurity solutions and flight simulators.

Ahmet Hamdi Atalay
BIOGRAPHY

Ahmet Hamdi Atalay has been the general manager and CEO of HAVELSAN since 2015 and was previously a member of its board. He has been the chairman of the Information Security Association Board since 2012. Previously, Atalay was the general manager of PROBIL Information Technologies, an executive board member for NETAŞ, and a board member for KRON Telecommunication. He graduated from Yıldız Teknik University's electronic and communication engineering department.

What are the most important products and solutions for HAVELSAN's export business?
We have four main lines of business—two primarily in the defense field, one in the civic e-government area, and one in homeland security. In training and simulation field, we have developed numerous advanced technologies, products, and services, and are one of the top-five companies in the world. We have aircraft simulators, sniper simulators, submarine simulators, and parachute simulators—it is a diverse product line. We are not just selling the simulator itself; our main business is to establish turnkey training centers along with the simulators. The second line of business is command and control, which involves command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and security systems. It is a large-scale segment, and we are one of the top-five players in the world in this area. The third line is management information systems, which are software-based solutions primarily for governments. This line is one of our long-established businesses and is aimed to provide information systems for critical infrastructures. Our fourth line of business is homeland security, which also includes cybersecurity. Up until now, our products have been available in 13 countries, including South Korea, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Pakistan.

What is HAVELSAN's strategy for penetrating new markets?
South America is one of our target markets. The company is already selling training services to some South American countries, such as Colombia, but we want to continue growing there. As a way to expand future exports and develop commercial relations with other countries, we have developed some training centers in Turkey for the Turkish Armed Forces, including some slots we are able to sell to foreign countries. There are two limiting factors to our export business. In the defense sector, the exporting country has to have a good relationship with the customer's country. Second, there are some big markets in Western Europe where it doesn't make sense to expand because either such markets are highly competitive or they offer no room to grow.

In the cybersecurity field, what is the advantage of technology transfer versus exporting ready-made products?
Our strategy in the technology transfer area is limited to countries with strong diplomatic ties to Turkey. We have offered technology transfers to countries like Pakistan, Qatar, and Azerbaijan. In cybersecurity, if you do not have some control over your services, you are not on the safe side.

How have HAVELSAN's roots as a technology company allowed it to be involved in high-tech infrastructure and IT projects?
We are the biggest software technology company in Turkey and the region. Our headcount is 1,800, our subsidiaries employ around 400 people, and we have more than 400 subcontractors in our ecosystem with around 2,500 employees. Tallying those numbers means about 5,000 people, and around 75% of them are electronics and computer engineers. That is why we are defining HAVELSAN as a regional power, and hopefully in the near future, as a global power. Since we are a technology company, we have to not just follow the technology but also create and develop it.

What are HAVELSAN's most important plans to implement its product-focused strategy in the near future?
The company was established in 1982 and moving forward, we are excited to do business in Turkey, the region, and the world. The previous business model at HAVELSAN was a project-oriented one where we worked on tailor-made projects for individual customers. Two years ago, we changed our business model and at present, we are trying to create our own products and solutions and target more than one customer. We call this model productization. We have already finished our productization period and have 25 products in the pipeline, which we are expecting to put on the shelf. Future growth will be defined by how well we sell these products through different channels and direct sales. This will be our focus for 2019 and 2020.