NU Alumni careers: I work for BI Group

We continue our project about NU Alumni careers. Today guests are employees of BI Group, a large construction holding, and a leader in the real estate market of Kazakhstan. The company follows the principle “Choose the best”: project, team, technology, and management. Currently, the BI Group holding employs 8,000 highly qualified employees united by a strong entrepreneurial corporate culture. The company is guided by global best practice in corporate management, adhering to international standards of financial transparency and ethical principles of business to enhance the team’s corporate spirit.

Olegzhan Beketayev, HR Managing Director, sheds light on the company’s hiring principles. Five Nazarbayev University graduates from the classes of 2016-2019 spoke about how the knowledge gained at the University helped them in their future careers. They also shared their employment experiences and how they are now “building happiness together”.

Olegzhan Beketayev, HR managing director

-In your opinion who is an ideal candidate?

For our company, ideal candidates are highly effective, proactive, result-oriented, communicative, and engaged leaders. Those, who are always hungry for learning and development, inspired by our company’s mission and values, and who know how to work successfully in a team.

-What do HR managers want to know about the candidate?

– HR people are usually interested in three things.  First, whether the candidate has the needed competencies and shares the corporation’s values. Second, the candidate’s ability and readiness to work in multitasking mode in the face of change or challenge. And lastly, whether the candidate has critical thinking skills.

-What are the main mistakes that recent graduates make in their interviews?

I’d like to highlight high expectations for the employer and the use of cliche in the CV.

– How do you evaluate employees’ work?

– We have internal tools to measure our personnel effectiveness and results e.g. KPI, appraisal, and 360 evaluation.

-How do you introduce newcomers to the team?

-The adaptation program includes trainings, team-building events, meetings with top-management, site visits, and a mentorship program.

– What do you pay attention to first when you look through candidates’ CVs? 

-We mainly pay attention to professional experiences (e.g., internships, projects, student alliances, volunteering, etc.), and anything that shows that the person is active, engaged, and lively. We also like to see participation in scientific activities such as Olympiads.

 -How would you characterize the NU graduates?

NU alumni are active and full of initiative. They think outside-of-the-box and are open to lifelong learning. They are ambitious and bright leaders.

Sofiya Akmesheva (Kudaskina),  Head of Happiness Department, School of Sciences and Humanities, Class of 2017.

-In your opinion, what should those who are about to graduate pay attention to?

-The last year at the University was hard for everyone – not only for me but for all students of the graduating class. It was difficult in both educational and spiritual aspects. I was worried about the future. I was anxious about whether I was doing the right things. I felt pressure from my parents, society, and other people.  This time was essential for my growth, and the difficulties were absolutely normal.  Students should try to not be too upset.   The main thing is to pull yourself together in time and start moving forward ☺.

-What were your plans for after graduation and did they come true?

-It is important to be confident about your future plans. It could be further education for Master/Ph.D. degree, work, or new business launch.

I decided to start working and get experience. My goal was to understand if the knowledge I gained was applicable in practice. Internships in state and private organizations helped to determine the spheres of my interest.

When choosing a future employer, I looked for two main aspects: 1) career growth opportunities and education; 2) the company’s corporate culture and values.

It has been three years since I made my choice and I can say that I am happy with it. Let me explain why.

Bi Group pays great attention to staff development programs, starting from internships and the adaptation period for newcomers. Every newcomer has a mentor, who teaches and helps professionally and personally. However, your personal initiatives, involvement, and desire to learn are crucial. No one will be bored here as the company is very dynamic and develops quickly. New projects require ambitious and smart people, who are ready for challenges.

The next key factor is the company’s corporate culture, values, and mission. It is important that they are in line with your personal values.

When there is such alignment, the company’s atmosphere will then benefit your growth and potential. The company’s mission can be your North Star giving direction to all your activities.  You will be part of something bigger than yourself.

BI Group’s mission is “We build happiness”. The key principle is represented in the formula: happy employee = happy customer = successful company. They understand the importance of people. True success depends on how employees personally and professionally feel. Therefore, the company invests in staff motivation, development, and support. The company improves and implements global best practices constantly.

Bakhytbek Makhin, Head of Production and Technical Department,  School of Engineering and Digital Sciences, Class of 2017.

-What role did the university play in your professional self-realization?

– I had a chance to get a wide range of skills during my studying and student life. Namely, how to think outside of the box, how to think critically, and how to search for, process, and acquire huge volumes of information. All these acquired skills helped me to be productive and to compensate for a lack of experience.

Miras Toltayev, Manager for International Projects Development, School of Sciences and Humanities, Class of 2016.

-Did your views on life change after graduation? 

-Each year at NU was bright and full of emotions. The conditions created for us were far from the reality of the country. Therefore during my studies, I believed in my uniqueness and learned how to think critically.

During my master studies, I learned to feel myself. Being abroad I clearly understood the importance of the family and culture. At that time, it seemed to me that I am more competitive in the KZ labor market than in the European market. So, I decided to return to Kazakhstan and start my career and family life here.  

-Were there memorable episodes in your university and postgraduate life that significantly changed your world view?

When I returned to Kazakhstan, I thought that having diplomas from both NU and a foreign institution would give me a head start. Some time later and after a few failed interviews, I realized that my specialty was not in high demand and was not well paid. I asked my friends about jobs and understood that in addition to experience, one needs a good network.

To build a strong network and to get some money, I just needed to work anywhere.  So, I started working as a receptionist at a hotel. This decision ended up being a good one at that time.  Every day, I encountered and served profession people with the types of great jobs I aspired to.  Such work served as inspiration and motivation.  I had a dream to be a professional in my field and contribute to the development of my country.

Eventually, I was invited to interview for the position of business analyst, and I finally got a job offer. The position and salary were good for me so after two days I started working for BI Group.  After working in this position for a year and a half and having gained sufficient experience, I moved to the position of manager for the development of international projects, where my task is to bring BI Group to the foreign market. So, 3 years after receiving my master’s degree, I understood myself better, created a family, and achieved the opportunity to represent Kazakhstan in the international arena. 

 Assel Bisenova, Technical manager, Department of International Projects, School of Engineering and Digital Sciences, Class of 2016.

 -How many interviews did you attend before finding a job?

– Frankly speaking, it was my first interview after graduation from my Master’s program. In winter 2018, I participated in the first BI International Graduate program, by the end I got an offer to BI Technology – a center on the implementation of new technologies in construction. A year later, I started my duties as the Head of the warranty services department. In 2020, I faced a new challenge – the technical support of international projects and projects in the medical field.

 -Were there any difficulties in the interviews?

-No. I thoroughly prepared in advance. Prior to my official employment, I had several internships in BI Group in 2014 and 2016. In addition, I wrote my thesis on one of the resident complexes, so I can surely say that I knew the Company.

Timur Malikov, Business analyst, Department of sales development, School of Engineering and Digital Sciences, Class of 2019.

  –In your opinion, which specialties will increase in the next 5-10 years, considering the development of technology and the market?

The 21st century is marked by the development of three main spheres: information, sales, and consumption. All companies engaged in developing technologies strive to automate business processes in those spheres. Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT),  greatly changed the labor market. Many professions are being automated. Today, computer scientists are in great demand not only abroad but also in the big cities of Kazakhstan.  And the math major’s statistical equations are more and more appreciated for learning programs and machines.

Despite these technological innovations and increased automation, professions like doctors or teachers will always be in demand. But of course, even these professions will change and transform.

-In your opinion, what qualities should a student/ graduate have to get a job?

-The market is interested in skilled professionals, who are willing to grow, increase their level of knowledge, and who can adapt quickly.  Future graduates should strive to be stress-resistant, flexible, and mobile. They should also be able to multitask and to work across disciplinary boundaries.