Gurkan Ustunkar’s Digital Proust Questionnaire

Author: Alex Papanastassiou

Emakina Group has rapidly grown in recent years, as a trusted digital partner of major organisations. The organisation’s exceptional directors play a major part in this success, leading the way. A fine example is Gurkan Ustunkar, who is heading Emakina’s B2B Commerce practice in the MENA region.

But who is the real Gurkan, the man behind the successful projects that drive strong business outcomes for clients’ ecommerce strategy and develop building blocks for their digital storefront?

Let’s sneak a peek inside his head with Emakina’s Digital Proust Questionnaire, our version for the digital age of the famous parlour game questions, popularised by French author Marcel Proust.

When and where were you happiest?

I was fortunate enough to have many memorable “happy moments” in my life but I think the one stood up the most is the one when we got our premature twins out of incubator  

What is your greatest fear?

To let people down who trusted and believed in me

Which historical figure do you most admire?

I’d say Nikola Tesla. Not because he was a scientific genius but because of his devotion to make the world a better place although he got almost no credit during his lifetime.

Tesla 89 yıl önce akıllı telefonları bilmiş!
“I don’t care that they stole my idea… I care that they don’t have any of their own”
– Nikola Tesla

Which living person do you most admire?

Prof. Dr. Aziz Sancar, Turkish molecular biologist awarded Nobel prize in chemistry back in 2015 for his studies in DNA repair. Outstanding achievement for a man having illiterate parents from lower middle class from one of the poorest districts of the country and having studied undergraduate degree in Turkey.

Who is your favorite writer?

Unfortunately I don’t have much time reading lately however I do enjoy works of Amin Maalouf and Trevanian.

Yazar Amin Maalouf: Anavatanım Arap dünyası menfaatine olan şeyler yapmadı;  hata önce onlardan kaynaklandı
“Never hesitate to go far away, beyond all seas, all frontiers, all countries, all beliefs.”
– Amin Maalouf

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Dr. Doom –archenemy of the Fantastic Four and many other popular superheroes. Actually my nickname at Lichess is originated from him 😊

Doctor Doom (2018).jpg
Show me the puny mortal who does not tremble at the name of Doctor Doom!

What evolution of the digital industry inspires you?

I find growing use of AI in digital industry pretty inspiring. Everything from use of bots to predictive analytics. I saw one of my team members shared this in her Instagram story, which is absolutely fantastic!

Who/what inspired you most in your career?

Mehmet Ergun, who convinced me to leave my job as a manager at a large corporate company to work for him in his startup and get into Salesforce ecosystem. He taught me a lot in 1.5 year, more than any of my previous managers did in 10+ years before him. Customer centric, process and result oriented, hard working..  traits you need to have in this business… R.I.P.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Writing my Ph.D. thesis from finding the topic to defending the work in 15 months & setting up a delivery center from 1 to 65 people in 3 years.

What tech company do you wish you had started?

Instagram… from launch to being acquired for 1 billion USD in less than 2 years.

What digital project would you have most loved to be a part of?

Udemy – a really great idea! Today the online learning and teaching marketplace offers over 130,000 courses to 35 million students.

What is your favorite digital app/ tool?

Blinkist – another great idea!

Blinkist Review 2019 Update: Is Blinkist Worth It? + Everything About  Blinkist - SeeKen

What digital app/tool that does not exist would you would like to create?

I think we are pretty close to that with the latest developments in speech recognition but an app that would enable you talk natively in all existing languages would be perfect

What is the trait you most admire?


The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows - Rocky Balboa

What is the trait you most dislike in others?


If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Probably either a honey badger or a bull shark. Aggressive, fearless, crazy, don’t give a damn..

Honey badgers are ferocious, withstand bites and stings and can even fight lions.

What is your most treasured possession, and why?

My spearfishing gear. Gives me all the happiness and freedom when I can find time to use them..

What is your motto?

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