Damlanur İpek – GC Powerlist
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Türkiye 2023

Energy and utilities

Damlanur İpek

Legal counsel | SOCAR Türkiye Enerji

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Türkiye 2023

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Damlanur İpek

Legal counsel | SOCAR Türkiye Enerji

What has been the number one challenge that has impacted you over the past year?

Last year, the most challenging thing for me was managing multiple tasks in different areas. In January 2022, I was elected as the general secretary of the Istanbul Bar Association Personal Data Protection Commission. In addition to my position, I also provided legal advice voluntarily and contributed to new legislation in the data privacy field. Only one month after my election, I started an LLM in IT Law.

As I am actively continuing my work life, both my LLM and the administrative duties I assumed at the Bar Association challenged me but managing both helped me grow professionally and contributed greatly to my knowledge level in the field. Through integrating all these efforts, I became the employee who was promoted in the shortest time in the company’s history, and I was promoted in just 1 year. I completed my LLM with a 3.91/4 average. The next month after my promotion, my new company, SOCAR, which is the largest industrial holding company in Turkey, contacted me and offered me a proposal. Although this process was challenging for me, overcoming these challenges has not only helped me progress professionally but also increased my motivation to provide new ideas in the field of law.

Can you outline your role in the legal function of your organisation and any significant cases or transactions you were involved in?

I have worked in the compliance field, with a focus on data privacy, both in my current company and in my previous company. I would like to mention my previous responsibilities as well as I have only recently started my new role.

In my previous company, Digiturk – beIN Media Group, one of the largest TMT companies in Turkey, I worked on ensuring compliance with the data protection regulations, as well as decisions made by the ICTA, and RTSC. I was directly responsible for the personal data of approximately 4.5 million customers. In addition, ensuring the compliance of DigiEuro, which operates in Germany, where GDPR was one of my main responsibilities.

Currently, I am working in the compliance field, with a focus on data privacy, at SOCAR. I am working on ensuring compliance with data protection regulations for SOCAR’s overseas operations. In addition, ensuring that the operations carried out at the Star Refinery, Turkey’s largest direct foreign investment, are carried out in compliance with EMRA decisions is one of my job responsibilities.

We have group companies operating in sectors such as insurance, ISP, natural gas, and more within SOCAR Turkey. As the legal team of the head office, we are responsible for ensuring that all companies comply with the legislation. We also have a monopoly in natural gas service in two cities in Turkey. Throughout all these processes, I take on the responsibility of ensuring compliance with sector regulations, including data privacy, and the data I manage in just the natural gas sector alone is 2.5 million.

In what ways do you see the in-house legal role evolving over the next few years?

In my opinion, in-house lawyer positions used to mostly play a role in facilitating communication between the company’s various departments and outsourced law firms, but today, positions have emerged where specialisation in the industry or role is more frequently encountered.

I think in-house lawyers have a high level of risk management in their daily job responsibilities. During my education, I worked as an intern in Turkey’s leading law firms and public institutions. Then, I had the opportunity to work as a lawyer at a law firm with a professor. In law firms, after listing the legal risks that your client may face in their operations, you leave the decision to your client’s commercial judgment, but when you are in-house, you are directly involved in commercial judgment and risk. In my current job description, the energy sector is one of the most regulated sectors, and SOCAR Turkey is also Turkey’s largest direct foreign investor. Therefore, I think the daily tasks I perform have a significant impact on many people, and managing this risk is both a challenging process and a high-value experience that every lawyer should try at least once in their life.

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