Defne (Sadıklar) Arslan is senior director of the Atlantic Council IN TURKEY program. Mrs. Arslan also serves as the Council’s regional representative with a specific focus on Turkey. Arslan launched the Council’s first office in the region in May 2015 and the Atlantic Council IN TURKEY program in 2018

After graduating from the Economics faculty of Middle East Technical University (METU) in 1987 with honors degree, Arslan started her career as a banker in Istanbul, where she successfully launched the early operations of Koc-American Bank, then a joint venture of American Express and Koc Bank.

She pursued her banking career until she started her MBA, while she also worked as journalist and columnist for a financial/economic newspaper owned by the Sabah group at that time.

She left for the U.K. in 1990 as she received a scholarship from the British Government for a master on finance. While in the U.K., Mrs. Arslan was honored with an Erasmus grant from the European Union, to work on her dissertation in Siena, Italy on the European banking system.

Upon her return to Turkey, Mrs. Arslan became the founding coordinator at the Turkish International Cooperation Agency, where she worked as financial coordinator to provide financing to technical assistance and investment projects in the CIS Countries. 

Mrs. Arslan joined the U.S. Embassy in Ankara in 1997 as the senior economist responsible for monitoring the IMF/WB programs during Turkey’s economic crisis at that time.  Her portfolio included monitoring economic developments and financial markets in Turkey in connection with global developments.  She was part of the leading economic/financial experts following the Turkish economy and financial sector. She monitored the Turkish economy and financial markets and met regularly with the international banking and finance community investing in Turkey. 

In 2008, she added energy sector and policy into her portfolio.  Since then, she acted among the key interlocutors on local and regional energy policies including the TANAP project, Iraqi energy, East Med and other regional issues.  She coordinated the TANAP investor meeting between Shah Deniz II investors and Turkey during the Atlantic Council Summit held in November 2013 in Istanbul. She often played key roles in key regional energy project meetings not only between USG and Turkey, but also with regional players. Arslan is known to be a key regional energy expert with her policy work and wide network.

Arslan also worked on the realization of one of the nuclear energy projects in Turkey and has advised international investors. 

Starting her early education in Tokyo, Arslan holds an MBA and an MA in banking and finance.  She received a BSc degree in Economics from Middle East Technical University (METU).  She has been awarded with several grants and awards throughout her career and education.

Arslan is also a member of the International Federation of University Women.

Arslan speaks fluent English, and Turkish, and some Italian, French and basic Japanese.