Şebnem ASİL / email@example.com
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STM holds a distinct position in the sector with its new product development approach and the resulting diversity in its fields of activity, coupled with the consultancy services it provides and the technology-oriented think-tank ThinkTech. Özgür Güleryüz, who took over the position of General Manager of STM last July, explained STM’s unique position in the sector, and gave details of the road ahead for STM to MSI TDR readers.
MSI TDR: Mr. Güleryüz, to begin with, may we wish you all the best in your new position. Before you were appointed as General Manager of STM, you held the position of Deputy General Manager in Charge of Engineering and Consultancy at STM, meaning that you took over the reins of an institution with which you were very familiar. What aspects of the company are you planning to bring to the foreground during your tenure?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: As STM, our greatest motivation is our patriotism, and we all work keeping this in the foreground. Accordingly, our primary focus is the protection of our people and our country, all the while contributing to its growth. I know that all my colleagues in STM, at every level, work with this consciousness, as I can see it in all our activities.
I liken my appointment to the post of general manager to a passing of the flag in this sense, and I work with motivation and pride to carry what I’ve been entrusted with even further.
As you know, STM was founded in 1991, and has been working to meet the needs of the Turkish defence and aerospace sector through national solutions since its establishment. STM’s founding mission was to provide consultancy services, and to develop knowledge in such activities as project management and systems engineering. Today, it is a company that develops technologies in many different fields, provides consultancy, offers engineering solutions and is able to meet the needs of the country with the national solutions it offers.
STM is a company that has set itself the goal of achieving all these not by itself, but together with the Turkish defence and aerospace ecosystem.
In this sense, I will be continuing to promote this vision of STM during my tenure. Our goal will always be: to develop new technologies, as far as STM’s capabilities can take us, and to have the ecosystem fill in where we are lacking. By working together, we will raise our country to a level where it can meet all of its defence and aerospace needs through its own resources, and will strive to take this one step further by exporting these capabilities, along with our ecosystem, thus contributing to the welfare of our country.
MSI TDR: Today, STM is active in a wide range of areas, including naval platforms, cybersecurity, autonomous systems, radar systems, satellite technologies, command and control systems, and certification and consultancy services. Could you provide us with your assessment of this versatility of STM?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: Looking at the Defense News Top 100 list, you can see that among the companies at the top of the list are those that operate in a wide range of fields, as is the case with STM. As a matter of fact, the fields of activity of STM largely overlap with those of other firms, but the advantage these companies have over STM is their wider product and service portfolio.
Accordingly, we consider STM to be on a similar path to that being followed by the world’s largest companies, and as we expand and mature our product and service portfolio, we will reinforce our permanence on the list and rise to the top.
The diversity in STM’s operations is a strong resource for us, providing a certain level of synergy, and we have established a management approach that ensures this diversity is kept in good working condition and on the correct path. In short, this management approach allows us to be more coordinated and to embrace the ecosystem in the right places. Let me give you an example: STM is Turkey’s largest company for naval platforms, but we don’t own a shipyard. Instead, we see all shipyards in Turkey and abroad as ours, due to our identity as a main integrator. Similarly, we see all companies working in other fields of activity as business partners in our projects, and consider them to be part of our company. From this perspective, which we nurture with our management approach, all production facilities become areas for potential joint production to meet the needs of our country, and thus, again, are a resource. We have the belief that tomorrow will be much brighter if we unite around a common goal, and attach due importance to these resources.
Integrator Firm that Meets Needs
MSI TDR: Looking at the big picture, what role does STM play in the sector as a whole?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: Whether they be end users, procurement authorities or industrial companies, we want them to say “STM has this!” Our aim is to come up with solutions that satisfy needs, and to fix issues as they arise. In some projects, STM may take on the main contractor role, while in others it may take a back seat. It can take part on its own in some projects, or can come up with solutions with its ecosystem; but regardless of the method chosen, the ultimate goal is to resolve the problem.
We see STM as occupying a slightly different position to other companies in the sector, as our perspective is to serve the sector as a whole. We have shown how successful we can be as an integrator in the projects we have completed to date, which can be seen in our naval platform projects in particular. We aim to carry out large integration projects of all kinds in which STM is the main contractor, working alongside the companies in our ecosystem with an approach that mirrors our naval platform activities. In short, we aim to produce national solutions to the needs of our country, and to export these solutions to friendly countries once their success has been proven domestically.
STM is Turkey’s largest company for naval platforms, but we don’t own a shipyard. Instead, we see all shipyards in Turkey and abroad as ours, due to our identity as a main integrator.
At STM, we do not see the role of integrator that I mentioned as a task associated only with projects, as we seek also to identify needs and problems when there is no project in sight, creating a road map and following it with our ecosystem. Our vision includes STM taking on the role of integrator also in such areas.
Here, if we return to your previous question, some of our fields of activity are actually related to the role we have assumed in the sector. For example, nowadays technologies related to communication systems, sensors and autonomous systems are seeing rapid development. The solutions and capabilities we have developed in this area and those of the firms in our ecosystem must be brought together and dealt with in harmony, in line with the requirements. In order to successfully fulfil the role of integrator, you need to know all the different systems that must be brought together, and to have a certain level of engineering knowledge and competence.
MSI TDR: In the picture you have drawn, your emphasis has been on “technology development”. Could you tell us about STM’s approach to this?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: At the time of our establishment, we started our adventure with providing services regarding project management, systems engineering, technology transfer, and technical and logistic support and consultancy services. Our journey continues today with the direct development of the systems and technologies needed by our country, which we are designing and producing independently. We are working today to bring new technologies to our country utilizing different instruments. At the heart of our activities are the R&D studies we carry out with STM’s own resources. We determine what technologies are needed under the guidance of our Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB), and then create a roadmap and proceed as STM in areas where we can take part, or work in tandem with the ecosystem and drive collaborations.
There is a point I want to emphasise here: Since the day we were established, we have never been motivated to compete with domestic companies, and this won’t happen in the future either. Our intention is to meet the needs of our country to the best of our ability, and as quickly as possible. For this reason, when we look at our sector while carrying out our duties, we do not see “a competitor of us”, but rather a “partner by our side”. As STM, we remain one step ahead of the needs and technologies. With the experience we have gained, we invest in areas where there are no local solutions to the current needs of our country, using our own resources to the maximum extent possible, and cooperate with others when we reach a point where we can no longer progress.
STM also plays a consultancy role, and technology is very important in this line of business. As a company, we believe that we must be “the highest authority” in every subject in which we provide consultancy, as this approach makes us better able to guide our customers.
In short, not only are we aware of technology, we are able to use it directly and in accordance with our consultancy services – that’s how we position ourselves.
A Pioneer, Not a Follower
MSI TDR: One of the key sections in the renewed STM website is entitled “Innovation“. Technology development also has an innovative aspect. What can you tell us about STM’s approach to innovation?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: Our goal in the technology field is to become a company that leads rather than follows. Today, developing a product can take 2–3 years, and within that timeframe, technology can become obsolete. Accordingly, it is not possible to offer competitive and innovative solutions if you only follow technological advances, and this is where the importance of innovation emerges. As STM, we see innovation as a means of transforming our ever-developing sector, referring to it as “the ability to invest in the technologies of the future“. We brought this approach to our website under the heading, “We defend our present and future with our innovations.”
Innovative ideas are very important and valuable for us, as our competitors around the world do not sit idle. If we are to compete with them, we need to be putting forward pioneering products, not following others.
The role it assumes in the sector also assigns “guidance” responsibilities to STM, and it is in this regard that we want our innovative activities, ThinkTech studies and other services to appeal not only to STM, but to the sector as a whole. We strive to define the future of both STM and our sector.
MSI TDR: How does ThinkTech contribute to STM in such processes as strategy formulation, innovation or new product development?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: ThinkTech, which is funded entirely by STM, is Turkey’s first technology-based think-tank. Its primary goal is to create roadmaps on what STM can do in terms of technology tracking, to identify new areas and to advise on the solutions that can be produced in these areas. Which areas could those be? What will be the trends of the future? What kind of technology will we encounter in the future? ThinkTech is a strong organisation that can come up with answers to these questions, and that can also provide services in this regard.
Through ThinkTech, what we’re trying to do is not simply to engage in research based on open sources. We carry out studies in different areas, and sometimes come up with investment strategies and business areas that can guide our country. In some areas, we bring together subject matter experts and people who have ideas to identify and analyse future trends and technologies through brainstorming. As STM, we consider ThinkTech’s studies when investing in the future.
That said, ThinkTech is not a structure that serves only STM, as all of the studies it carries out for STM can be of benefit to other institutions and organisations that may be in need of such services. For example, ThinkTech is conducting a series of studies with a number of development agencies, including an analysis with the Konya Plain Project (KOP) Regional Development Administration and the Mevlana Development Agency for companies manufacturing shotguns in Huğlu, Üzümlü, in which our aim is to increase both their productivity and the added value of their activities. I believe that we will see positive results of this study reflected in their figures in the coming period. Similarly, we are currently working in Gaziantep with the Silkroad Development Agency in a project for the machinery and metal sector.
Our intention is to meet the needs of our country to the best of our ability, and as quickly as possible. For this reason, when we look at our sector while carrying out our duties, we do not see “a competitor of us”, but rather a “partner by our side”.
Our aim is to see that the companies that we are serving in this context benefit not only the defence sector, as our intention is to clarify what they can do in different areas, and how they can grow more.
As ThinkTech continues its activities domestically, it strengthens its position by developing original solutions for NATO with all of the capabilities it possesses. The NATO SHAPE Integrated Elasticity Decision Support Model, which provides strategic-level decision support to authorities by analysing the risk areas determined by NATO on a scenario basis, is the best example of this.
In short, the ultimate goal of ThinkTech, both at home and abroad, as to produce solutions to tomorrow’s problems today, to create roadmaps for potential problems and to shape the future from this moment on.
MSI TDR: You also work in the area of social innovation and organise various competitions. How do these competitions contribute to STM’s works, projects and human resources?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: Our social innovation approach is based on our sensitivity in providing maximum benefit to our country, as is the case in all our fields of activity. At this stage, as we meet the security needs of our country through the development of innovative products and services, we do not believe we should be constrained by our own capacity. We act with the belief that any existing potential we may have in the creation of a stronger future for Turkey must be grown and harnessed. With this approach, we make use of social innovation as leverage for the acquisition of societal support in critical subjects for Turkey and for building awareness. Our primary focus in this regard is young people, both inside and outside the company. As STM, we are aware that our most valuable asset is our human resources, and similarly, that our country’s most valuable resource is its people. Accordingly, we consider attracting young people to our domain to be one of our primary duties while meeting the needs of our country.
Our aim in our social innovation activities is to transfer our experiences to young people, to support them by making use of their experience and position in the new world order, and thus to invest in the future of our country. Within these efforts, we explain the needs of our country to our young people, as we want them to see and gain a certain level of awareness about the activities and areas in which they can get involved to contribute more to their country.
We need to find young people who are both willing and capable, and we are not just looking for future engineers. Taking for example our thesis competition related to submarine design and technologies, the psychology of submarine crews is an important issue, and so the studies conducted by psychology students in this field also attract our attention. Through initiatives such as these, we have the opportunity to observe an area that we have engineered from a variety of perspectives.
In addition to the events we organise, such as the Capture the Flag (CTF) competition in the field of cyber security, and Derin Arayışlar (submarine design and technology competition), we also participate in the activities of such institutions and organisations as the SSB and the T3 Foundation involving young people. We play an active role in the ROBOİK and TEKNOFEST activities, and enjoy meeting our young people there, and we have made friends during these events, who have later joined us at STM.
There is something else I’d like to emphasise: we will always need the excitement, dynamism and perspective of young people. Today, technologies are advancing so rapidly that it is not possible for the adults among us to keep pace. We need to involve the young people in this area, and it was with this awareness in mind that we launched the Reverse Mentorship Program at STM. It is a program in which the new generation conveys its perspective to our experienced managers. In our mentoring programs, our fellow managers have been mentoring young people for years, while in this new programme, our new graduates mentor our experienced managers about today’s technologies and digital skills, while at the same time conveying their way of thinking, their perspectives of the business model, and the expectations, needs and dreams of the new generation. Our goal in this regard is to ensure that the outstanding competencies of the mentor satisfy the needs of the mentee, and that everyone learns something new from each other.
MSI TDR: In your marine projects, you are working on new designs, but are also involved in construction and modernisation. In the coming period, where do you predict the centre of focus will be in this area? In domestic projects or abroad?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: We will not be making a choice in this regard, as we will continue with the projects that are on the agenda both at home and abroad.
The naval platform field is an area in which we have acquired significant engineering skills, and in which we have assembled a team of around 250 people, most of whom are engineers. Fundamentally, a submarine is equal in complexity to a spacecraft, and when you undertake the modernisation of a submarine, you are entering a platform that has been made by another company, you disassemble some parts and replace them, and you make the platform work again. This is no easy task, however we have acquired this capability.
One of our most important goals for the future is to apply this capability, and the potential we create with our ecosystem, to exports. Our agenda includes export projects with a high probability of realisation that we end up working on. Once these have been achieved, STM will take a further step up in the global market.
Our current projects include both the construction of new platforms and the modernisation of existing platforms – there are no differences between the two in many respects, as if you are to perform both successfully, you must be prepared to make changes to the design or subsystems when encountering situations that were not predicted on paper. At this point, your ability to come up with flexible and result-oriented solutions is what will secure your position as a good and preferred engineering company. Accordingly, as STM, we will never be a stand-alone design company or a shipbuilding company. In the end, we are an engineering company, and as such we will continue to take part in design, shall direct construction activities, and shall carry out modernisation projects based on our understanding of existing systems.
MSI TDR: Autonomous systems are a hot topic around the world. What is STM’s position in this field?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: In autonomous mini-UAV systems in particular, STM will remain the leading actor in Turkey. Our aim is not just to put forward a flying platform like KARGU, ALPAGU or TOGAN, as the platforms we introduce should be able to operate through the use of such future technologies as artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer image processing. Accordingly, they should be able to operate even when there is no communication in the battlefield, they should be able to communicate with each other when necessary, and they should have the ability to act autonomously. In any case there always should be human interaction to be able to finalize the attack operation.. We have already integrated most of these capabilities into our existing platforms, and our R&D activities are continuing for the others. For example, the ability to function in environments where there is no available Global Positioning System (GPS), is a vital capability, and so we are continuing R&D studies that will enable the platform to find its own way through the exploitation of different technologies, such as image processing, under the leadership of the SSB in the KERKES project. Upon completion, we will make these technologies available to other platform providers.
Our current platforms are at the same level as their global counterparts, and I can even say that they are more advanced in some technical areas. Our platforms have proven themselves both in tests and on the battlefield, and we constantly make improvements based on the feedback we receive.
The battles of the future will be between autonomous systems, and this field is highly dynamic. Today, you create a solution, and the next day a solution is produced that counters it. As STM, we will continue to operate in this field with all our engineering power and our ecosystem, creating solutions to meet every need.
MSI TDR: The companies operating in the cyber security and informatics domains, and that are making use of products in this field, are not limited to the defence and aerospace sector, being involved in a wide variety of fields, and so the competition extends far beyond the sector. What are the qualities that allow STM to stand among its competitors?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: As STM, I can say that we stand out in this field not in terms of our competitiveness, but in the role we play as a sectoral leader.
In the field of cyber security, Turkey cannot do everything at once domestically. As STM, our primary mission in this field is to draw a roadmap for our country in collaboration with the SSB Cyber Security Cluster, and to be able to steer companies with the necessary competencies to the relevant areas within the scope of this roadmap. This is not something that can happen tomorrow, it’s a long and drawn-out process.
We can say, therefore, that STM will ensure that companies that invest or consider making investments in the field of cyber security work in harmony, both in the defence and non-defence sectors.
In terms of projects, many of the needs of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and law enforcement institutions for such infrastructures as cyber defence and data centres are met through projects carried out with STM as the main contractor. We also serve many public institutions and organisations through our Cyber Fusion Centre.
One of our main goals in cyber security is to create an ecosystem that can meet all needs. It is not possible for us to do everything, given the restrictions related both to human resources and financial means, and so we will continue to move forward with the SSB Cyber Security Cluster and other appropriate actors.
MSI TDR: You are working in aerospace with focus on micro and nano satellites. Can we learn about your plans for the future in this field?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: The satellite field is a good example of STM’s future-oriented efforts, given its investments from its own resources into technological development with a view to satisfying emerging needs.
We predict growth in the importance of micro and nano satellites, and have identified a gap in our country in this regard. After carrying out technology development and proof-of-concept studies in this area using our own resources, and we have now completed the design and manufacture of both micro and nano satellites. Our intention was to launch them by the end of 2020, but we have postponed the launch to 2021 due to the pandemic.
In the coming period, we will remain open to any kind of cooperation in which we can contribute with the experience and knowledge we have gained in satellites and space.
MSI TDR: STM has also been operating in the field of consultancy since its establishment. Do you think the Turkish defence and aerospace sector benefits sufficiently from the consultancy solutions offered by STM?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: It is not an easy matter in any sector for individuals and institutions to accept and benefit from external consultancy services. We carry out our activities with this awareness, and have been working with the SSB on different consultancy models for many years. Today, working together with the many institutions and organisations– primarily the SSB – we are able to come up with original solutions to complex problems, and to carry out sector analyses in strategic areas and where there is a need.
Consultancy is a very broad field, but we have the ability to provide services to many institutions and organisations in both the public and private sectors. Currently, STM is able to create synergy with institutions, and supports them as necessary, although there is significant potential waiting to be exploited.
We launched the Reverse Mentorship Program at STM. Our new graduates will mentor our experienced managers about today’s technologies and digital skills, while at the same time conveying their way of thinking, their perspectives of the business model, and the expectations, needs and dreams of the new generation.
MSI TDR: Into which new areas will your product and service portfolio expand in the coming period?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: We will continue to follow trends and developments in the battlefield in the future through our consultancy services and our ThinkTech initiative, and will put our signature under efforts that will shape the future.
The battlefield will become more and more autonomous, and in this context, our naval platforms will continue to occupy an important place in our agenda, given our continued work especially in the field of unmanned autonomous underwater and surface platforms.
The importance and use of the artificial intelligence, computer vision systems and big data processing capabilities we have developed for our mini UAVs will increase, and we will offer new solutions along with our ecosystem.
Cyber security will remain high on the agenda, and while there are many companies operating in this field, the field is vast, and there is a lot to be done. For this reason, we need to approach the issue with an understanding that prioritises synergy, not competition.
By developing new products in areas where opportunities exist, and placing the ecosystem at the forefront, we will carry the motivation and guidance we provide to the sector into the future. Our vision includes also the realisation of innovative projects and the development of different products, in which our priority is of course to be in a position where we can anticipate needs, understand them clearly and guide the sector. We will continue to come together with companies that are specialised in their respective fields, and shall keep developing products with much faster processes.
2023 Target: 50% of Turnover from Exports
MSI TDR: We would like to ask you about STM’s future goals. What kind of STM will we see in 2023? Can you tell us about your goals in terms of turnover, exports, number of employees and new products?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: Our primary goal for the future is undoubtedly to successfully complete our existing projects, and to apply the knowledge we gain to much larger projects – in short, to gradually expand our activities.
We are also looking to grow as much as possible through exports, and we target to have 50 percent of our turnover derived from exports by 2023, although our longer term goal is to raise this figure even further. This will not be easy, but we believe we have the potential to achieve it with the support of our ecosystem. In this sense, we are also trying to motivate and guide our subcontractor companies.
Another goal is to enter the top 80 on the list of the world’s largest defence companies in 2023. In the longer term, we aim to secure our position on this list, and to be within the top 50.
We will continue our cyber security activities in the military field, and we intend to extend the services we provide and the technologies we develop in the defence field also into the civil sector. As STM, we believe we can become an important actor in the civil sectors, and consider this a must.
Through our innovations, we will continue to build for the future, not for the present. We will contribute both to defining the requirements of the future world and to the development of the necessary technologies, all the while increasing our areas of implementation in the defence sector. As an example, I can mention the recent studies we have conducted in blockchain technologies.
Today, as a country, we have reached an important level in national and indigenous production. We will remain on this track, and expand it into other sectors, supporting Turkey’s collective development and the development of various other sectors through ThinkTech. We will apply our expertise to the best of our ability to make the power of our country clearly apparent.
MSI TDR: Is there anything you would like to add?
Özgür GÜLERYÜZ: The companies with which we work are satisfied with our collaborations, as evidenced in the feedback we receive from them. Our goal is to ensure companies want to continue to work with STM, including both clients and suppliers.
In the future, we will continue to work in such a way that STM’s reputation remains appreciated by the institutions and subcontractors we serve, elevating our standing abroad as a company that both serves the sector and engages in exports.
On behalf of our readers, we thank Özgür Güleryüz, General Manager of STM, for taking the time to answer our questions, and for providing us with such valuable information.