NU Alumni: I work with “Sergek” system

We continue our series of interviews with our alumni and their employers. Nazarbayev University graduates who work at KPMG and Kazzinc have already taken part in the project.  The next heroes of our project are working at Korkem Telekom – the developer of the public and road safety system “Sergek”.

A lot has been written about “Sergek”: some blame it for having to pay fines, others praise it for cultivating a culture of safer driving. The statistics show a 43% reduction in road traffic deaths in the first year of the system’s operation in the capital and a 38% reduction in crime rates in public places.

In addition, the company has numerous interesting projects in the field of “Smart City” namely Smart Transport System, Safety yard, Smart gate, eco- meteorological detectors, etc. Today, our four speakers are Mr. Asset Akhmetov – the company’s director, Ms. Daniya Akhmetova – HR director, and two Nazarbayev University graduates – Oral Uagas (Robotics & Mechatronics) and Rauan Sagidulla (Economics).

Mr. Asset Akhmetov,  Company’s director

-Which employees are your success stories? What qualities are important for good work and promotion in the company?

-Our company is guided by three main values: efficiency, teamwork, and development. At the same time, team relationships are very important. We strive to be on the same wavelength with our employees. To be a competitive company and create a dream product, all team members need to be professional and get along with each other. We value people who want to be the best at what they do, those with the ability to experiment with advanced ideas and technologies, who can discover new points of growth, those who achieve results, and finally, those who take responsibility for making decisions. Everyone should strive to be a role model and inspire one another to achieve the company’s goals.

-How would you characterize the company’s corporate culture?

-Our company is a part of society and the country. We strive to maintain high ethical standards. We provide our current and future employees with attractive office locations and progressive prospects for career growth and long-term employment. Our team is a group of passionate professionals in their field. It is important for us that IT sovereignty appears in Kazakhstan, the purpose of which is the country’s IT security. That is why we select Kazakhstanis for our team and try to use local technologies and developments.

-What results do you expect from a new employee during the probation period?

-The key to the success of any employee, whether he/she is a “newcomer” or not – is efficiency and hard work. Only those who are “obsessed” with their work can achieve success. Hard skills are important, but personal qualities (soft skills), which are much more difficult to quantify, are paramount to us. These include social and intellectual competences, as well as self-discipline.  Prized soft skills also include good communication, the ability to work in a team, creativity, and responsibility.

-What skills and abilities are needed for career growth?

-Motivation is crucial in this case.  Some might be motivated by financial goals which is not bad, while others have ambitious goals in terms of self-realization. In any case, an individual needs to have a strong desire for something. If he/she has that desire then only the sky is the limit.

Daniya Akhmetova, HR director

-In your opinion who is an ideal candidate?

-The tricky thing is that there are no perfect people. Each “job ad” describes the position’s expectations and skills that are necessary for a candidate to have. Recruiters then try to find the one who will best meet the employer’s demands. During interviews, we come across various situations. For example, one candidate can be experienced and qualified in a certain field while the other has all required skills and competencies but lacks 10-years of experience.

Each employer wants individuals with great backgrounds to join the team. They seek those who are fast-learners and skilled communicators, those with initiation, and who are proactive.  Ideally, these are people who can work well in a team, quickly adapt to new realities, are always ready to help, responsible, respectful, and finally, have a good sense of humor.

In addition, ideal candidates should have excellent physical health, and be excited to go on urgent business trips, take emergency calls, and work on weekends.  But as we remember, the ideal does not exist, therefore it is necessary to be attentive in every case.

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

-It is not necessary for a graduate to be an ideal candidate to get a job. The result of the interview depends on the candidate’s ability to communicate and clear answers. In cases where you do not know something, it is better to admit that you do not know. It is ok. With young specialists, recruiters usually pay attention to soft skills, interests, ambitiousness, and desire to gain practical experience.

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

-First of all, it is excitement and self-doubt. Graduates often feel uncomfortable due to the lack of well-developed communication skills. It is necessary to present yourself and convince the interviewer to choose you.

-How do you introduce newcomers to the team?

 HR department and Heads of units are responsible for the process of adaptation. This period includes several aspects: psychological, social, professional, and operational. This approach helps newcomers learn the company rules, structure, and the team. We involve him/her to corporate culture through different events. In addition, we organize meetings with newcomers and monitor their state and well-being. We arrange weekly breakfasts with the Company’s head. The informal meetings are the best way to quickly get the news, share experience, ask questions, and offer new ideas.

-When you look through candidates’ CVs what do you pay attention first? How would you characterize the NU graduates?

-It depends on the sphere. When recruiting candidates to back-office we pay attention to higher education. As for IT specialists we are interested in previous experience, projects, startups, and tech skills. Very often IT specialists start coding and working with programming languages much earlier than they get their diploma.

Nazarbayev University students and alumni are always of great interest to employers. The university provides its students with a unique platform for creating various “incubators”, project teams, and research activities. All this makes the candidacy of your graduates attractive.

Oral Uagaz, circuit engineer

-In your opinion, to what does a student who graduates in the nearest future need to pay attention?

-I think that they do not need to hurry with entering a Master’s program. It is ineffective to study in a Master’s program without work experience.

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

-Right after graduation I planned to get a job in my field. My priority was to find a project I could work on and not the salary rate. Currently, I do interesting work and have a stable income.

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

-First, the graduate should love his job and be satisfied with his activities. Second, he needs to know and understand his specialty. Self-study is one of the important qualities for a graduate. Third, they should learn to take responsibility, which definitively will be an advantage in the future.

Rauan Sagidulla, Director of prospective project development

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

– I believe that the importance of “the specialty” will devalue every year. Specific skills and knowledge will take the leading role, and at the junction of different specialties. To be in demand, one’s skills and knowledge will need to be constantly updated. If you got a job and feel comfortable without updating or supplementing your knowledge, then most likely within 5-10 years you will be replaced by an algorithm or even worse, just an optimized business process.

In your opinion, what should students who graduate from the university pay attention to?

 Read your incoming emails. A lot of cool information on events, programs, internships, etc is literally at your fingertips, comes into your email boxes.

Try not to miss out opportunities. Communicate. Tell people what interesting projects you have done, what skills you have. People will unconsciously remember that you have a certain set of skills and when they need an employee, you will come to mind. Very often the employer starts searching for employees among his acquaintances and if he fails then continues searching through mass channels.

-What were your plans after graduation and did they coincide with your career?

– To be honest, I never planned a career. And I thought that the summer after graduation was my legitimate vacation, which was foolish to waste looking for a job. Therefore, the plans could not coincide with reality as there were not any.

-How many interviews did you attend before applying for a job?

– After graduation, I had two interviews and both times I was hired. One was in a big office, wearing a tie sitting on large leather chairs, and the other was in Starbucks, wearing a hoodie and sneakers. It is very important and necessary to attend interviews, this is how you develop, understand trends. But you need to prepare for them long before you start looking for a job. A simple course on Coursera or at the Yandex School of Management will help you in getting ready.

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

-Nazarbayev University for me is an advanced starting point for career growth. I was in the first cohort, therefore employers had never experienced working with NU alumni. However, they expected a lot from us.

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

 – It is very important to be able to sell what you already have. It will be difficult if you cannot clearly tell about yourself. Within 4-5 years at the university, it is very important to acquire not only knowledge but also skills. Be able to analyze a large amount of information, to search for what is impossible to find, design, copywrite, program, create cool presentations, and build financial models. Study everything – even things that seemingly do not concern you. If you see your future in the corporate or public sector, then you need to study the basics of etiquette and business style.

If you decided to work in your field, then I strongly recommend that you to talk to people who have gone before you. Try to get an understanding of useful skills that helped them to achieve their goals. Such information can be a shortcut to success at times.

-Did your views on life change after graduation? Were there memorable episodes in your university and postgraduate life that significantly changed your worldview?

– During my studies at NU, the boundaries between people disappeared for me.  Can you imagine that when you sit in the library David Cameron or Dmitry Medvedev could suddenly come up to you and ask “How are you?” That was really mind-blowing! When I was a schoolboy, “the person from the Ministry of Education who came with revisions” was a kind of a star. At NU, I realized that all people, regardless of rank, status, and position, are pretty similar deep down.