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Senior Vice President, Chief Accounting Officer, and Corporate Controller at International Flavors and Fragrances
During a recent conversation, Beril Yildiz, Chief Accounting Officer at IFF, shares her journey from Turkey to the United States, what she loves about consumer goods, a surprising weekly ritual, and why she believes the best is yet to come.
What were your early years like?
I grew up in Turkey in a middle-class family with two sisters. We were raised to be strong and independent and getting a good education and good grades were non-negotiable. Coming from a middle-class family we all had the understanding that it was important to have financial independence so we could make our own choices and decisions in life and if we wanted something we had to work hard to get it. I think that resonated with us and we all have great careers today.
What drew you to PwC?
As I was approaching graduation, I knew I wanted to live and work abroad. So when the big four accounting firms came to my university, I remember looking out for programs with global opportunities, which PwC offered. And in Turkey, PwC was very strong. I started out in the audit practice, thinking I’d switch to consulting, but I ended up staying in audit for 18 years.
How was your experience?
My experience with PwC was amazing First, I was based in Turkey, then I worked in Houston for a few years, and finally in New York City and the National Office. During that time, I had hundreds of clients across industries and worked with thousands of people from all over the world with diverse backgrounds. I feel very fortunate to have had so many learning and growth opportunities all in one company.
Any lasting lessons?
Wonderful thing about PwC is it teaches you skills to simplify and solve complex problems. Because you are dealing with so many industries and clients in such a short period of time and you have to deal with complex issues you have no choice but simplify the complex and quickly get to the crux of the problem and solve it, so you learn that very quickly at PwC. That framework and all the related skills that come with it still resonate with me today.
What do you love most about your work now?
I love that I can relate to the products and brands in consumer goods—they’re relevant because they’re in all our daily lives. I also love how dynamic the industry is. It’s constantly changing and evolving, and the competition is fierce. You respect your competitors, you study them, and you learn from them. That keeps you on your toes and it makes you constantly think strategically about where the consumer and the industry is going. For instance, as consumer preferences and values have shifted toward natural health and wellbeing and sustainability, we’ve been really evolving in those areas.
What does IFF do?
We supply the food and beverage, fragrance, home and personal care, and health and wellness end markets with products and innovative solutions that allow them to create the products consumers know and love. IFF is ever present in Consumer’s Daily Life. We serve a large variety of markets and develop thousands of products around the world that relate to consumers and have touchpoints with them 24/7 from the moment they wake up to prepare for sleep. It is pretty incredible.
How would you describe yourself as a leader?
I’d say I am approachable and personable. In my current role, I have more than 450 people reporting to me, with teams all over the world. But I try to make time for building connections and one-to-one interactions, which I believe are important both for learning opportunities and building the team identity. I also like to hear my team’s point of view before I make a decision. Finally, my teams tell me that I have high standards. I’ll often say, “Never settle for good when you can be wonderful.”
Do you have any other favorite sayings or a motto?
The best is yet to come! Dream big, don’t negotiate your dreams, believe in yourself, and keep walking.
Outside of the office, how do you like to spend your time?
I'm a big believer in taking time off to disconnect from work and recharge. Also not delaying the things you love to do. For me, I love traveling and going to different places, so I book vacations and I take them. I also love wakeboarding and snowboarding. I play tennis in the Central Park and cycle in New York City—I think tiring my body helps me calm my mind.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
Well, one thing that always surprises people is that I buy myself flowers every Monday! And the other is that I became a certified health coach during the pandemic, all through online coursework, which is both personally and professionally fun and fulfilling!
What’s the best advice you can offer others?
The world is changing in such profound ways. If you are not going to remain a life longer learner it will be very hard to keep up. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Things that are most challenging in the moment are ultimately what give you the greatest growth and development opportunities. So just get out of your comfort zone, embrace change, and be open to different experiences.
What’s something you wish you could tell your younger self?
Be more forgiving and less critical of yourself. It is okay to make mistakes. That’s how we learn and grow. You don’t fail when you make mistakes, you only fail when you stop trying.