Ozlem Denizmen '94

Ozlem Denizmen '94

Social Entrepreneur

BS, ILR School, Cornell University, 1994
MIT Sloan School of Management MBA, 1999

Ozlem Denizmen was 17 when she moved to the United States from Turkey, where she learned English while working as an au pair. Her sights set on an Ivy League education and with the objective to spend her life working for justice and equality, Denizmen applied to the ILR School.

She credits the ILR education she received with helping her see things differently from her peers who studied management or economics. Denizmen says with this angle, she brought a global vision and understanding to her viewpoints during her corporate career, which began at Merrill Lynch in New York.

Over the past five years, Denizmen has become a social entrepreneur in Istanbul, Turkey. In 2010, she founded Para Durumu, the first financial literacy social enterprise in Turkey. Para Durumu promotes personal finance through multimedia platforms, CSR projects as well as seminars at various institutions. Denizmen also founded FODER (Financial Literacy & Inclusion Association) in 2012. This non-profit organization is accredited by OECD to improve financial literacy and inclusion in Turkey.

Ozlem Denizmen holds the view that financial literacy and inclusion are critical to economic freedom for women. Denizmen believes that women who have control over their finances, reinvest in their families and, thus, have a positive impact on their community.

As a mother of two who has been financially self-sufficient since her teens, Denizmen is a role model worldwide for women seeking economic freedom. Denizmen is now a board member of a top 50 Turkish company, Dogus Automotive, and recently became the first Turkish board member of the Global Reporting Initiative. She was a White House delegate at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in 2010 and was selected as a Young Global Leader in 2011 by the World Economic Forum.

As a member of the University’s President’s Council of Cornell Women, Denizmen visited Ithaca earlier in 2015 and while walking through Collegetown, Denizmen reflected on how her ILR degree prepared her for her business/life journey. She states that a person can use what he or she has learned at ILR throughout a business career, while aspiring to any kind of future.