Uncovering connections

Marcos Prieto

From Australia to Germany, and passing through the USA and Belgium, among other countries, the life of Murat Ünal can be traced by connecting the points in his extensive academic work and his long professional career in different parts of the world. One of those points is Madrid, specifically at IE Law School and IE Business School, where Ünal earned an Executive LLM and a doctorate in Business Administration in 2011. Those studies led him to plant the seed that years later would flower in his present ambitious project, which is based on connecting other kinds of points: the ones known as “nodes” in the language of data structure analysis.

“My doctoral thesis was about social networks and the impact of multiple social links between the members of boards of directors,” says Ünal, who in 2008, along with his team at Funds@Work, published the first studies about the network of large institutional investors and their links via social networks with asset managers all over the world. It was research that had repercussions in more than 70 countries.

After developing more than 250 projects all over the world, Funds@Work morphed into a new entity so that the unique methodology it had developed could also be available for corporate clients by means of a service called Ecosystem Intelligence. And that’s how SONEAN (an acronym for Social Network Analysis) was born. It is proud of its independence: “We’ve chosen not to accept outside investment so as to be able to concentrate on our long-term goal and not get off track”. That goal is to help clients to go beyond the traditional data and complement their knowledge with information related to social networks so as to make much better decisions.”

“We’re all included in the networks that link us to people we know from school, university, work and other organizations. The ecosystem we are integrated into can enormously affect our success and the decisions we take, explains Ünal. What this IE alumnus and his team have developed is a service that makes it possible to create ‘made-to-measure’ ecosystem models for their clients. These models represent all of the groups of interest to the company, and make it possible to detect the links that unite the principal actors and the different organizations in dozens of countries. As Ünal explains, SONEAN seeks “organic and sustainable development” so as to continue to improve the quality of its services and thus “make the difference with our selected clients.”