Defne (Sadıklar) Arslan is the senior director and founder of Atlantic Council IN TURKEY, leading the Council’s global work and programming on Turkey. Arslan joined the Council in 2015 as the director of the Energy and Economic Summit before founding the Turkey program in 2018. Arslan also serves as the Council’s regional representative with a focus on Turkey.

Before joining the Council, Arslan had a seventeen-year career with the US State Department where she worked at the US embassy in Ankara as the chief Turkey economist responsible for monitoring the Turkish economy, as well as the IMF/World Bank programs being implemented in Turkey, and senior energy advisor.  In her role, she acted among the key interlocutors on local and regional energy policies including the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline project, Iraqi energy, the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, and other regional economic and energy issues. Arslan is known to be a key regional energy expert and financial economist with her policy work and wide network.

Arslan is a former banker who started her career in Istanbul, where she successfully launched the early operations of an international bank. She expanded her experience also working as financial journalist and columnist for a financial/economic newspaper. Upon receiving the Chevening scholarship for her studies in finance, she lived and studied in the United Kingdom during the 1990s. During the same period, she was also honored with an Erasmus grant to work on her dissertation in Siena, Italy, on the European banking system.

Arslan worked at the Turkish International Cooperation Agency, where she was responsible for project financing in the Commonwealth of Independent States countries during her time in Turkey. Starting her early education in Tokyo, Arslan received a Bachelor of Science in economics from Middle East Technical University.

She also had an MBA and an M.S. in banking and finance. She has been awarded with several grants and awards throughout her career and education. Arslan speaks fluent English, and Turkish, and some Italian, French, and basic Japanese.