Keynote speaker: Hamdi Ulukaya, Chobani, Inc., World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013
Interviewed by Uschi Schreiber
Values rooted in tradition
Chobani Founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya continues to describe his yogurt company with passion and enthusiasm one year after being named World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013.
As Chobani has grown, Ulukaya has found plenty of challenges along the way, such as transforming and enhancing his workforce into one capable of managing a multinational business with more than $1 billion in annual sales.
He credits his humility and ability to remain grounded with his upbringing in a rural area of Turkey. The values of Chobani are rooted in those traditions, and this ethical, transparent and philanthropic way of doing business is, he believes, what today’s consumers want.
Ulukaya is sanguine about his competitors’ Greek-style yogurt products, which are appearing across the US market. While the product is important, Hamdi and his team are putting their energy into building a powerhouse brand, which he says is what will continue to set Chobani apart.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012 US
World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013
Hamdi founded Chobani in 2005 and launched Chobani Greek Yogurt in 2007. Less than six years later, it had become the No.1-selling Greek Yogurt brand in the US with more than $US1b in annual sales—making Chobani one of the fastest-growing companies in history. For his impact, Hamdi was named the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2013.
Hamdi, a Kurdish immigrant, grew up in eastern Turkey, helping with his family’s farm and feta cheese business. In 1994, he moved to study business in the US and during that time he decided to start a small cheese company in Central New York. Later, with the help of a Small Business Administration loan, he purchased a plant and officially started Chobani.
Hamdi is a passionate philanthropist, pledging to give 10% of profits to charity through Chobani’s charitable arm, the Chobani Foundation, which distributes grants to grassroots organizations all over the world. He remains dedicated to empowering individuals to reach their full potential. He is committed to making good food accessible to more people, and to strengthening US manufacturing in small towns.
For his leadership and career achievements, Hamdi has received numerous awards, including the Small Business Association’s Entrepreneurial Success Award. He was also inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Achievement. Hamdi sits on the advisory boards of the Pathfinder Village, American Turkish Council and Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and he is a Vice Chair of the Corporate Fund Board of the Kennedy Center.
EY Global Markets Leader and
Global Government and Public Sector Leader
Uschi is EY’s Global Markets Leader. In this role she is responsible for EY’s markets functions of Knowledge, Industry/Sector, Strategic Growth Markets, Strategy and Analysis, Commercialization/Innovation, Trade and Business Development.
She also leads the Government and Public Sector global organization of more than 7,000 people, providing advisory, audit, transactional and taxation services to clients across mature and emerging markets.
Uschi is the former Deputy CEO of EY in Australia. Prior to joining EY in 2007, she was a Director-General and Cabinet Secretary of delivery and central agency government departments in Australia.
Uschi has significant experience with transformation programs in large organizations, and she is passionate about driving change for EY and its clients. She is a leader in EY’s diversity and inclusiveness programs and in progressing women’s issues internationally.