Elif Gencer

Elif Gencer

Hometown: Istanbul, Turkey
College/University Attending: Emory University
Year In School When Selected: 3rd Year
Program of Study: Economics and International Studies


Coming from Istanbul, Turkey to the US for college has been a challenging process. Although the language barrier and cultural differences were difficult to handle at the beginning of freshman year, with the support and understanding of the community that I have found in college, I have managed to overcome the challenges of being an international student.

In college, I have found that I benefit significantly, both academically and emotionally, from being active in extracurriculars, volunteering, and research opportunities to develop my professional skills and make my community a better place. Taking classes from multiple fields such as Business, History, Political Science, Anthropology, and Statistics under the interdisciplinary curriculum of Emory has helped me to become a more well-rounded and self-aware individual.

Outside of academics, I have been an active member of the Emory Impact Investment Group where like-minded students from Goizueta Business School and Emory College come together to work on closing the microbusiness gap in Atlanta. As the Director of Personnel and a Team Leader in the consulting branch of this organization, I have worked on consulting, due diligence, and development projects that aim to help local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses during the economic crisis fueled by the global coronavirus pandemic. Acting as an analyst, leader, and director in this organization has been extremely rewarding as it provided me the opportunity to explore the intersection of business and social impact by emphasizing community values. Outside of academics, I love traveling, volunteering, making artwork, spending time with my dog, and reading philosophy blogs. As an avid fan of Mediterranean cuisine, I love to learn and try new recipes and cook for loved ones in my free time.

Summary of New Ideas proposal:

My New Ideas Proposal essentially focuses on solutions to foster a high-trust culture that reduces internal and external division within companies. I believe that the rise of political polarization and individuals’ decreasing levels of trust in their governments have put more emphasis on the actions and choices of the leaders of the corporate world. In recent years, many businesses experienced loss or gain of popularity, changes in sales, and internal conflicts depending on their stances on controversial political issues. In my proposal, I suggest a six-step solution that discusses how the integration of soft power could look like in the workplace. To foster mutual respect and allow diverse opinions to be shared, I think that business leaders such as CEOs should aim to maintain principles of neutrality, openness, and objectivity when learning about the controversial topics that their companies take particular stances on, especially in the early stages when there is a market research and knowledge of the issues at stake that still needs to be conducted.

In addition, I suggest that creating more opportunities for inclusive and constructive dialogue among workers and different departments should be a key aspect of a company’s mission statement. Business leaders should aim to understand the background and interests of employees through data collection methods such as anonymous forms and monthly check-ins to arrange activities where workers can engage in respectful discussions, depending on how similar or different their views are. I further propose that businesses should aim to make investments in civil society organizations, fundraising events, inter-dialogue projects, and research that share similar values by dedicating a certain amount of their budget to these areas. Financial investments can demonstrate that the company is credible and its political views are aligned with its actions.

What does the New Ideas Competition mean to you?

For me, the New Ideas Competition symbolizes our dedication to the core principles of empathy and equality in improving civil discourse and reducing polarization in our societies.

Advice for new applicants:

Be creative! Make sure you have a brainstorm map on different ideas before picking your best one!