An Iron Lady at Picasso: Sevin Otgunc

When ranked according to their turnover, Picasso Travel is one of the first five tourism agencies in the U.S. Sevin Otgunc is a female executive in charge of the expanding trend of the company and she has been directing the operation in the New York Office for 14 years. Picasso Travel, whose headquarters is in Los Angeles, opened its first branch in New York in 1990. Picasso Travel’s New York branch provides $55M of the company’s total sales volume which is reported as $135M in 2003.
Sevinc Otgunc, who started managing the New York Branch (located on Lexington Avenue and 57th Street) when it only had one table, one chair, and one person, reports that now 33 employees from 16 different nationalities are provided employment in the office. Picasso, operating business on the 14th floor of the Empire State Building, is directly affiliated with 50 airlines. When compared to its competitors, it is ranked as one of the top 10 companies. Ms. Otgunc is not only in charge of the New York Office, but also serves as the Vice President in charge of sales and marketing nationwide.

Sevin Otgunc, Picasso Travel East Cost VP

Ms. Otgunc, who quit school in the 3rd year when she was a student at the Department of Economics in Istanbul has worked at the Istanbul office of AFS (Student Exchange Program) for six years and for nine years at the New York office. Huseyin Ozyurtcu, Ms. Otgunc’s current boss, is one of those students who went to the U.S. through the AFS program for his education. Ms. Otgunc’s acquaintance with Mr. Ozyurtcu dates back to the years when he returned to Turkey after his education.

When she was first offered the position at the New York branch, she says that she got excited, hesitated and then thought that spending 15 years at her previous job was boring enough and she started working for Picasso. She reports: “I realized once again that I made the right decision after I started working and saw the headquarters of the company in Los Angeles. I am proud to be working here and conducting the business successfully.

Picasso opened its offices in San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and Chicago after the launching of the New York office. Ms. Otgunc says that they have to work very hard in order to survive in the New York market where there is big competition in the air transportation industry as well as other industries. She also says that they had to work 15 hours a day when they first opened the New York office. She says, “Sometimes I had to sleep on the couch. In those times we had to work hard in order to keep the company on its feet. She also draws attention to the loyalty among the employees. Ms. Otgunc reports that the employees usually work under the same roof for at least six years.  

Sevin Otgunc with Picasso employees.

She was born in Ankara to a family from Elazig as their second child. Her father was a member of the Constitutional Court, her mother was a housewife. She graduated from Ankara College where she learned English that helped her throughout her carrier. She quit school in the 3rd year as she was studying Economics in Istanbul. Having worked at a company which conducted international student exchange programs, she joined the Picasso family in 1990. She has two children and two grandchildren.

(February 2004, 11th Issue, Cover)

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07