• Birol Akdogan from Murray River Organics
    Birol Akdogan from Murray River Organics

We ask industry leaders five questions about their working life. This month we talk to Birol Akdogan from Murray River Organics. This article was first published in Food & Drink Business May 2021.

1. Tell us about your current role.

In March, I became the CEO and managing director of Murray River Organics (MRO) after joining the company as CFO in September last year.

MRO is an ASX listed organic food company that is evolving from a farming dried vine fruit company to an organic and better-for-you FMCG food business.

Each year, our Sunraysia facility, which utilises biomass energy, processes thousands of tonnes of dried vine fruit for export and domestic markets.

A strong point of difference for us is our strategic procurement team, which sources organic ingredients from global suppliers.

Our Dandenong plant is an agile and modern facility that manufactures a variety of MRO branded FMCG products including our award winning organic muesli range.

MRO represents an amazing opportunity for those of us who believe that food sourced from sustainable and regenerative farming is the future.

2. What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Early in my career as a CFO, I was incredibly fortunate to lead the turnaround of a paper/printing equipment business, which had around $500 million in turnover.

The company was more than $100 million in debt. I was able to work with the management team to reduce that through a combination of improved working capital management, investment in higher returning products, and innovative financing solutions.

3. What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn?

Not achieving buy in – it’s a tough and at times judgement based approach, but if you don’t have buy in from your key leadership, then it’s very hard for everyone to pull in the same direction.

Once you achieve buy in and the requisite trust that flows with it, then you can be absolutely sure that your leadership team will rise to any occasion.

4. What would you tell your 25-year-old self?

Believe in yourself more – it’s going to be ok.

Change is a constant, and you can’t plan for everything, but you can learn to be flexible, adaptable and most of all resilient.

Everyone is far stronger than what they really know.

5. What is one goal you want to achieve?

I see MRO as having a huge potential to grow, and it is my absolute privilege to lead MRO’s dynamic and enormously talented team. My goal is to grow the company into a $200 million a year turnover business within five years. As such, I want us to be a destination choice for people wanting to join the organic and better-for-you food sector.

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