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Interview with Batyrzhan Serik

Interview with Batyrzhan Serik


Stories of leaders – those who achieved certain heights, leading their teams and serving as a role model, who in any circumstances can find sources for inspiration and share them with their team - such people cannot but inspire. Batyrzhan Serik - for over 15 years being a leader in mining equipment and an important member to Borusan Cat Kazakhstan family, shared his story today.

- Batyrzhan, tell us about yourself: schools you graduated, and where did you start your professional path?

- I’m myself from Karaganda, graduated from Kazakh Turkish Lyceum and afterwards went to Karaganda Polytechnical University, where my major was Economics and Management in Mining Industries. I have no diploma of honours, and I have never aimed at getting them: rather than my scores and academic progress I was interested much more in the very process of studying disciplines which could be of use in future for me.

When I was a student for three years during my summer break I worked as an interpreter for one Turkish road and construction company. That time foreign companies just began coming into construction of roads, since the Roads Committee began applying international standards of construction.

After my graduation that company offered me a permanent position, but not as an interpreter - I was given a position in financials. Working for two years in this department I tried and had a shot in various spheres within: I was in charge for warehouse, dispatch control, worked as a coordinator, an interpreter - in short I gained my first really profound work experience.

Due to seasonal character of road construction business, really busy hours in summer and compelled long leaves in winter due to no work, I decided to change my sphere of activity and began looking for some other more suitable job. That’s when I took a job in Borusan Cat Kazakhstan in 2006.

- Could you tell us about your first job with Borusan Cat Kazakhstan?

- That time our company had a large contract with Kazakhmys company - Borusan Cat Kazakhstan covered with service nearly all sites of the Customer where Cat machinery was operated. I was a part of Рафет Каймакчи’s team, who headed over Nurkazgan Project that time and nowadays manages Customer Support Division in Borusan Cat Georgia. My duties included account and record of technical availability factor for the Customer’s machinery, preparation of reports, evaluation of machinery operation and registration of facts of violations in its operation on the part of the Customer’s staff, as well as preparation of minutes and reports on such violations for the Customer. Also I acted as an interpreter at meetings with the Customers, and in case of absence of my supervisor I maintained and led all communication with them.

- Thus in which Division did you start to work for Borusan Cat Kazakhstan?

- Back then there were no Divisions within the company, I worked with mining equipment and machinery directly at the Customer’s facilities, and witnessed the way mining works went and the way machinery and equipment were maintained and serviced. It was of great use for my future position as PSSR - I gained my expert skills in that very time.

In 2007 Kazakhmys management decided to start their own service team, and that’s how Kazakhmys Service company came to be. That period of time was far from simple for Borusan Cat Kazakhstan, as 70% of business depended only on that particular Customer, and there was no diversified business at all. The situation had its impact even on such things like office, warehouses and workshops of our company, since all of it was borrowed from the Customer, and we had to look for new suitable facilities and premises in no time at all. Same goes for the staff: huge part of our employees migrated to Kazakhmys Service. I was also offered to transfer to the company, but I made up my mind to stay with Borusan Cat Kazakhstan.

It was in this period in Borusan Cat Kazakhstan when I was offered two ways of development in my career path: switch to another project as a supervisor or work in PSSR position in Karaganda branch. I clearly remember words of Yerlan Kopeyev who at that time had already accepted a similar offer to transfer from project to PSSR position in Karaganda branch. He said: ‘Batyr, it’s a new and challenging experience for both of us. Say yes, and we’ll start this work together’. As a result I accepted PSSR position in Karaganda.

After that there were hard times in the history of our Company. Karaganda office moved to a garage 50 sq.m in size, and it still was necessary to find a place for the workshop to delivery services. It was practically impossible to organise a warehouse, and we had to store spare parts outside near the office. When we need to supply spare parts to Customers we had to go out together and search for them in boxes, where they were kept. Because of constant problems with Internet connection we had to visit internet cafes at our own expenses so as to contact a Customer and prepare all necessary documents. Certainly such circumstances didn’t conform to status of the world brand Caterpillar official dealer of machinery and equipment at all.

Back then I witnessed how much people were devoted to the Company, staying with it in that time of hardship in spite of all what happened and in spite of work conditions and illusive vision of the Company’s future. I would compare the Company’s condition at that time with ruins, that hoping for the best its remaining employees tried to restore. I remember when under such conditions me and my colleagues made phone calls around our Customers to preserve and increase their loyalty. We never left office earlier than 21:00 in the evening. Nowadays when I face discontent of the Company’s employees with anything, I understand - in order to value what we have today for real, one should witness and see what was back then - that office in the garage.

Later on the office moved to another building with way better conditions, where we operated for three more years up until opening of CRC.

In 2011 I began working as a Spare parts and service sale department head in the Mining equipment department, where I worked till 2015. Afterwards I was offered similar position, but in the Department of construction equipment and road and construction equipment with transfer to the main office in Almaty. Such dramatic change in the field of work surprised many of my colleagues, but for me it was a new challenge and a completely unknown field which I wished to explore and moreover succeed in it. Speaking of times when I managed this Department, I believe my mission was to remove the gap that formed between it and the Mining equipment department, and to make a breakthrough to form own culture and teamwork. That gap was significant, and it feels nice when I see how scarce it is nowadays. Those days we generated a lot of effective solutions for service, and afterwards together with the Department of strategic planning and marketing we developed a number of new and effective tools, outlined a strategy and determined a concept of the whole work. Time and again I noticed that when thinking about results achieved in work, it may seem that we didn’t do anything special, but when I passed on my position to Yerlan Kopeyev I realized just what a strong foundation we had built for the Department and what a strong infrastructure we had developed. I must say that a number of solutions implemented in its processes will actually be of use for the Mining equipment department as well. Today the Department of construction equipment and road and construction equipment is a mature and rather well formed Department with its own concept, established culture, its own base of Customers and peculiar approach to them.

In 2016 I was offered a position of heading the Customer Support in the Construction equipment and road and construction equipment division, where I worked for two years. In 2019 I became a head of the Department of construction equipment and road and construction equipment. This year I transferred to International Business.

- Работа руководителя непроста и очень ответственна. Поделитесь, что самое сложное для Вас в данной работе и что самое интересное?

- Самое интересное для меня – работа с людьми, наблюдение за их развитием и непосредственное участие в нем. Я всегда стараюсь принимать в свою команду людей с потенциалом для развития. Однажды я познакомился с очень интересным высказыванием, которое гласило, что необходимо выбирать людей для своей команды так, как, например, вы выбираете машину: Fiat, который может развить скорость до 100 км/ч, или Ferrari, способную разогнаться до 300 км/ч. Нужно стремиться работать с людьми с потенциалом Ferrari, которые в будущем смогут «разогнаться». В своей работе я всегда стараюсь придерживаться данной концепции.
Самое сложное, на мой взгляд, – это работа с людьми в команде. Все люди разные, у каждого сформирован свой подход к работе, у каждого – своей характер и взгляд на вещи. И при этом необходимо создать в коллективе такую атмосферу, в которой будет комфортно работать. Важно, чтобы люди были мотивированы на работу и выполнение своих задач. Здесь многое зависит от компании, от предоставления необходимого социального обеспечения.
Еще более сложно для меня – увольнять людей не по своей воле, например, когда в компании наступает кризисный период. Ведь когда я принимаю человека на работу, я вкладываю в его адаптацию и обучение часть себя.

- Working as a leader is not easy and is very responsible. Could you share with us what’s the most difficult and the most interesting in your job for you?

- The most interesting for me is working with people, observing their development and participating directly in their development. At all times I try to take people with potential for development to my team. Once I came across a very interesting saying that choosing people for your team is like choosing a car: Fiat making 100km/hr top or Ferrari making 300km/hr top. One should strive to work with Ferrari potential people who will be able to make it to the top in future. In my work I always try to stick to this concept.
The most difficult as to me is a teamwork. All people are so different; each of us has its own character, approach to work, and way of looking at things. And with all that in mind it’s necessary to create such an atmosphere in the team for everyone to work in comfort. It’s important for people to be motivated in their work and task fulfilment. Much depends on the Company and provision of social benefits.
Even more difficult for me is dismissing people against my will, for instance, in the time of crisis in the Company. When I hire someone and give him or her a job, I invest part of me in his or her adjustment and training,

- Department of construction equipment and road and construction equipment is very diverse - it includes a number of represented brands, used machinery, rent machinery, etc. Despite of the large and diverse scope of the Department, its team is very close. Could you share with us the way you maintain such atmosphere in your team and how you motivate it for new accomplishments? What qualities or traits do you value in people?

- In order to have a comfort or as I call it a ‘working’ atmosphere in the team, specialists should clearly understand what’s required from them and what goals are set for them. My task as a leader is to make sure that they fully understand their duties. It is also very important for a specialist to feel sincere trust of his supervisor or leader towards him or herself.
I always try to communicate with my team more. It’s essential to do it lowering the boundaries. Each working day of our team begins in a positive way, with small talks and jokes - even in hard times we try to maintain positive and light atmosphere within the team. Once we gave a start to a very good tradition of holding a quarterly meeting, and so we regularly meet now with our team and spend good time together.
As to me talking about important qualities in the first place I appreciate good faith or decency in people.

- In order to motivate the team first of all a leader needs to be in resource him or herself. What inspires you and where do you get your energy from?

- My major stimulator and motivator is my family. I need to admit that I learn much from my kids. I often notice their words for myself and get astonished by how deep and genuine they are. Thinking about my work in Borusan Cat Kazakhstan and those 15 years I spent here I realize how much I like to be part of it. For all these years this atmosphere of comfort and motivation has been provided for me as well, year by year strengthening our loyalty to company. At different stages of working in the Company I met different challenges and that created a peculiar interest to my work. The biggest challenge in my career was certainly my transfer from the Mining equipment department to Road construction and Construction equipment department.

- What would you recommend young specialists starting to work in our Company?
- We need to accept that each generation brings about completely new vision, new expectations and approaches to business. More than likely we’ve been just the same - utterly ambitious and attempting to achieve all and at once.
My advice would be to be brave and take on any challenges, switch or change your spheres with confidence, and step outside your comfort zone - of which I can be confident out of my own experience. Any changes bring about development in you. Due to lack of time and knowledge you have to promptly adjust, grow your skills and gain new experience. It surely may be far from nice or comfort, but it does give one a good start and makes any further work easier.
Wish you to feel confident and trust your guts. It’s not easy to be a good judge of people, but this skill should be developed as important one, so that you would be able to trust those people in future.


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