I wish I could write this biography in Turkish, however, 50 years of absence from Istanbul and lack of practice have weakened my knowledge of the language. I am still very happy to be able to communicate in Turkish although not in a fluent manner any more.

My paternal grandfather migrated to Istanbul in 1906  from a small island named Korçula in the Adriatic sea, the birthplace of Marco Polo (so they claim), at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. He worked in a shipyard in Büyükdere as a shipbuilder, a craft acquired from the Venetians. Although Austrian, he was of Italian origin. My grandmother’s family migrated also from the same island.

My mother was British, grandpa had an English bookstore opposite the British consulate in Beyoðlu, grandma was Italian, her parents moved from Rome to Istanbul to do business.

This is how I was born in Istanbul from a family of immigrants, and how lucky I was ! I spent my childhood in cosmopolitan Taksim, at the age of five I was already communicating in five languages.

I made my primary school at Sainte Pulchérie, secondary at Saint-Michel, and thereafter at Robert Academy. I confess that I owe a lot to RA, no need to detail, we all experienced its values.

After my graduation, I moved to Switzerland in September 1965. My father having marketed Swiss watches in Turkey, I was hired by a watch company named Vulcain & Revue located in a small city, La Chaux-de-Fonds. I started as sales assistant and over the years, I was appointed  Area Sales Mgr.

In 1971 I joined as Sales Mgr. a very large watch-case manufacturing group in Delémont, consisting of 7 production units with a staff of about 900 people and an average output of 30000 units per day. We were supplying the Swiss watch industry as well as industries in Europe and the US. Our clientele was ranging from high-end brands such as Cartier to low end $50 retail watches. 

However, due to rising costs in Switzerland, a large portion of the watch business moved first to Hong Kong, thereafter to China. Although I had a good position, I realized that the future in this industry was dark.

Therefore, in 1980 I decided to move to Geneva, the city of the “haute horlogerie”, the luxury segment. I joined       Christian Dior watches as Sales Mgr. for Middle-East/Africa and Far East. The company belongs to the LVMH (Louis Vuitton) group. It was just marvelous working for an international company, exploring markets spreading from Japan to Australia, from Turkey to Iran.

I have opened emerging markets at the time, such as Korea, China, Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia. My Turkish background made my life easy when dealing with the Arabs, however, doing business with the Japanese or the Chinese was a total different story, I had to learn.

In 1999, LVMH offered me a new challenge, to establish and manage a subsidiary in Dubai, marketing the watches and jewellery of the group in the Middle-East, which I did. I moved with my wife to Dubai, experiencing the unique lifestyle of this amazing city and enjoying fantastic business mainly in the Gulf countries.

In 2007 after almost eight years in Dubai I said to myself “yeter”. We came back and settled in France, in the family house of my wife located in a village named Valleiry, near the Swiss border, about 20 km from Geneva. I still have a minor activity, I do consulting, travelling from time to time to Dubai and the Gulf.

I am the father of two daughters Katia age 43, Lydia 40, both married, and the grandfather of two lovely girls, Tania 15, Alicia 12. My daughters are from my first marriage, I was dating their mother back in 1964 while in the Academy. We broke-up in 1989.

I met my second wife Danièle in Geneva, she is French.  We now have a nice retirement, travelling places we still did not explore, skiing in the winter, cycling and hiking during the mild seasons.

Over all these years, I kept coming to Istanbul regularly, visiting my parents and sister as well as my clients. I have been in many attractive cities all over the world but Istanbul remains the one I love most, anchored deep in my heart.