Nilgün Gürkaynak was born in Izmir in 1967. She is a graduate of Izmir American Collegiate Institute (’85). She holds a BBA degree from Boğaziçi University (’89), and an MBA from Dalhousie University (’91) and a PhD in marketing from Yeditepe Unviversity.
She was a faculty member of marketing in Yeditepe University between 2000 and 2009; before that she worked for the Coca-Cola Company, GfK, Henkel-Turyağ and Izmir Pamuk Mensucatı. She also provided consultancy and training services for various firms from FMCG, banking, construction materials, real estate and communication sectors.She joined IUE in 2009 and since 2010 she is the Director of School of Applied Managerial Sciences.

Her research interests include place marketing, marketing for SMEs, social media and local brands.