Remembering A Legendary Expat Contract Engineer – Essay


We have young engineers who have been bored with the uneasy domestic political and economic environment in recent years and they are planning to establish a new life for themselves in Western Europe or in North America. Our young doctors, engineers, software experts and academics probably do not consider that it is not so easy to establish a new life and a new order there. It is not easy at all to leave the environment you are used to, to find a place in a very different culture in a geography that is very foreign to you, and to learn the other language to sprak fluently. There are also reciprocal cases to the contrary. There are foreigners who come here voluntarily and get married here, lived rest of their life here. In this article, I am telling about one of them, a precious person.

In early 1990s, I was working in a big industrial contractor private company. A school friend of ours who left our company and got a job on his own, came to the office one day with an American of our age. He introduced us to the American expat engineer he met while working at the American facilities. He was born and raised in the USA, an educated knowledgeable civil engineer with five generations of British German Irish immigrant blood, very experienced in contract as well as project management. He was also a Vietnam veteran.

Of course, it was not necessary to be a mechanical engineer to work with us, there was always a need for an experienced engineer who could interpret the fine details of the contract in English on behalf of the company he works for and manage the project. After a while, he joined our Turkish-American joint venture company. He started to carry out the field management of the thermal power plants and the contract management of the jobs we took. He must have had serious changes in his private life before coming to Turkey. He was divorced in USA but was financially supporting ex-wife and his children. He wanted to live as far away from his American ex-wife as possible. We worked together in the company for nine years in domestic and international projects. He worked in Bursa Bisenergy, Pakistan Quetta, B&W Kemerköy FGD project, as sell as in Jordan and Kazahstan. He was a secretive, serious, calm person who spoke very carefully in short sentences, he did not give details about his private life. He managed the projects he took very carefully and meticulously within the given budget.

Later in time, he fell in love and married a beautiful widowed Turkish woman, who was an academician at a university in Ankara. They did not have new children. They had a good relationship together. We went to Antakya Aleppo tour in 2004 with our spouses as part of a Metu alumni organization. We ate breakfast together. Back then, Syria was like a closed box.

Then our American partner company got into financial trouble, so-called Chapter-11 and withdrew from all foreign partnerships in the process. The foreign company share in passed to the domestic partner. Joint venture company was over. I broke up with the company. I started working in Istanbul.

Our Expat friend also left the JV company and started to work in another large local contracting company in Ankara that does business with American facilities. He became the contract manager. I followed the career change in LinkedIn. He documented each communication in written notes. He most recently became a manager at a new Turkish-American joint venture company. He established his own company in the USA and entered the construction works of American facilities in the middle east region. Later in time, he passed away and everything was over. There’s a short linkedin post behind.

He brought us the experience of abroad to the local company and the domestic market, the complete project discipline that has not yet been fully established in us, the seriousness of human relations in the field, and the follow-up of the contract detail. While I have nothing to say to Turkish young professionals leaving country to migrate foreign countries, I have always appreciated the foreign experts who left their own comfortable environment and came to our environment voluntarily and spent time and effort with us. He was a good person, rest in peace.

Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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