Erkan becomes first female governor of Türkiye’s Central Bank

Erkan becomes first female governor of Türkiye’s Central Bank

Erkan becomes first female governor of Türkiye’s Central Bank

Hafize Gaye Erkan, a finance executive in the United States, has become the first-ever woman to head Türkiye’s Central Bank after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appointed her as the institution’s governor on June 9.

Erkan, former co-CEO at First Republic Bank and managing director at Goldman Sachs, takes the reins after Erdoğan’s reelection on May 28 and just under a week after he signaled a pivot away from unorthodoxy with a new cabinet.

The fifth central bank chief in four years, the 41-year-old replaces Şahap Kavcıoğlu, who spearheaded Erdogan’s rate-cutting drive.

The announcement of Erkan’s appointment in the Official Gazette was accompanied by a decision to appoint Kavcıoğlu as head of the Banking Regulatory and Supervision Agency (BDDK), Türkiye’s banking watchdog.

The Central Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is scheduled to have its first meeting under the governor on Jun 22, when it is expected to raise the policy interest rate from the current 8.5 percent.

Erkan, 41, earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Istanbul’s Boğaziçi University, graduating as valedictorian, and a doctorate in operations research and financial engineering at Princeton University.

She also completed two training programs on management sciences at Harvard Business School and leadership at Stanford University.

With a number of top posts at major companies under her belt, she served as co-CEO of U.S.-based First Republic Bank and member of the board of directors at Marsh McLennan, a services firm in the fields of risk, strategy and insurance, a managing director of investment bank Goldman Sachs, and a member of the board of jewelry firm Tiffany & Co.

Erkan, the first woman under the age of 40 to hold the title of president or CEO at one of America’s 100 largest banks, made the “40 Under 40” lists of both San Francisco Business Times and Crain New York Business.

In 2019, Erkan was included in Crain’s “Notable Women of Banking & Finance” and American Banker’s “Women to Watch” list.

Erkan boasts expertise in banking, investment, risk management, technology, and digital innovation, and also serves on the Advisory Council of Princeton University’s Operations Research and Financial Engineering Department.

During her career in New York City, she gained a reputation as “tough, smart, and effective,” said Kathryn Wylde, CEO of the Partnership for New York City nonprofit, where Erkan once served as a director.

“She is certainly not someone who can be pushed around, but she also can disagree without being disagreeable,” Wylde said.