The stories of leaders - people who have reached certain positions, lead teams, set examples, find sources under any circumstances, and share them with their team, can only inspire. Today Batyrzhan Serik, a leader in mining equipment, who has been a key member of the Borusan Cat Kazakhstan family for more than 15 years, will share his story with us.
- Batyrzhan, tell us about yourself: where did you receive your education, how did your professional path begin?
- I come from the city of Karaganda, graduated from the Kazakh-Turkish Lyceum, after which I entered the Karaganda Polytechnic University to study Economics and Management in the Mining Industry. I do not have honors diplomas, and I never set myself the goal of getting them: more than the assessment of my academic performance, I was interested in the process of studying subjects that could be useful to me in the future.
When I was a student, I took a job as a translator for a Turkish road construction company and worked there for three years during the summer holidays. At that time, the construction of roads by foreign companies has just started, because the Committee for Roads began to use international construction standards.
After I graduated from the university, this company offered me permanent employment and no longer as a translator - I took upa position in the Finance department. During two years of work in this field, I tried myself in various areas it covered: I was a warehouse manager, was engaged in dispatching, was a coordinator, a translator - in a word, I got a quite rich first working experience there.
Due to the seasonality of the road construction business, very busy employment in the summer, and forced, due to lack of work, long vacations in the winter, I decided to change the field of activity so I started searching for a more suitable place of work. It was during this period, in 2006, that I got a job at Borusan Cat Kazakhstan.
- Tell us about your first position in Borusan CatKazakhstan.
- At that time, our company had a large contract with the Kazakhmys company - Borusan Cat Kazakhstan covered services of almost all the Customer`s sites where Cat® equipment was used. I was part of the team led by Rafet Kaymakchi, the Head of the Nurkazgan project, who is currently the Head of the Customer Support Division at Borusan Cat Georgia. The list of my tasks included accounting for the Technical availability factor of the Customer`s equipment, preparing reports, assessing the operation of equipment, and recording the facts of violations in operations conducted by the Customer`spersonnel, as well as preparing acts and protocols on these violations for the Customer. I also acted as an interpreter at meetings with customers, and in the absence of my manager, I conducted all the communication there.
- So, in which Division did you start your activity in Borusan Cat Kazakhstan?
- At that time, the company had no divisions. I worked with mining equipment directly at the Customer`s project, saw how mining operations were being carried out, how the equipment was serviced. That was very useful for my future PSSR position - I acquired my expert skills at that time.
In 2007, the management of the Kazakhmys company decided to create its own service team, and so the Kazakhmys Service company was set up. That period became very difficult for Borusan Cat Kazakhstan since 70% of the business depended only on this Customer, and their business was not diversified. The situation affected everything: the office, warehouses, and workshop of our company, because everything was borrowed from the Customer, and we were forced to find new, suitable premises for ourselves in a very short time. The situation also affected the personnel: large outflow of employees from our company to Kazakhmys Service happened. I also was offered to move to that company but decided to stay in Borusan Cat Kazakhstan.
And it was during that period that Borusan Cat Kazakhstan offered me two ways to develop my career: move to another project as a supervisor or work in the Karaganda branch as a PSSR. I very much remember the phrase that Yerlan Kopeev, who, at that time, had already accepted a similar proposal, told me: move from the project to the Karaganda branch and become a PSSR. He said: “Batyr, this is a new and an attractive experience for us both. Agree to it, and we will start this work together". As a result, I took up the position of PSSR in Karaganda.
After that, the history of our company fell on hard times. The Karaganda office was moved to a garage with an area of about 50 sq.m., while it was necessary to organize a place for a workshop to provide services. There was basically no opportunity to organize a warehouse, and we were forced to store spare parts on the street near the office, and, when it became necessary to issue some components to customers, we all went outside to search for boxes in which the parts were packed. Due to constant interruptions with the Internet, we had to go to an Internet cafe at our own expense to contact the Customer and prepare the necessary documents for them.
Then I saw how loyal to the company were the people who stayed with it in this difficult time, despite all the events that took place, working conditions, and despite how illusional the idea of the company`s future was. I would compare the state of the company at that time with the ruins that the employees who remained in the company tried to restore with faith at best. And I remember how, under all these conditions, my colleagues and I made calls to Customers to maintain and increase their loyalty. There was not a day when we left the office before 21:00.
Later, the office was moved to another location, where conditions were much better, and where we operated for three years, before the opening of the CRC.
In 2011, I took the position of Head of the Sales and Service Team in the Mining Equipment Department, where I worked until 2015. After that, I was offered a similar position, but in the Construction and Road Construction Equipment Department with a transfer to the head office in Almaty city. Such a radical change in the field of activity surprised many of my colleagues but, for me, it was a new challenge and a completely unexplored area that I wanted to explore and, moreover, succeed in it. Speaking about the time of my leadership in this department, I believe that my mission there was to eliminate the gap that had formed between it and the Department of Mining Equipment, to make several leaps to create a well-coordinated work and my own culture. The gap was significant, and I am pleased to see how imperceptible it has become now. At that time, we created many effective solutions for the service, and, later, together with the Department of Strategic Planning and Marketing, we developed several new, functional tools, prescribed a strategy, and defined the concept of all work. I have noticed more than once that if you think about the results achieved during the work, it may seem that you actually did not do anything, but at the moment when I conveyed my position to Yerlan Kopeev, I saw what a powerful foundation we had laid in the department, what a strong infrastructure has been set. Frankly, I believe that many developments implemented in its processes will be useful for the Department of Mining Equipment. Today the Department of Construction and Road Construction Equipment is a mature, sufficiently formed department with its concept, its well-established culture, its customer base, and a unique approach to them.
In 2016, I was offered the position of Head of Customer Support in the Construction and Road Construction Equipment Division, where I worked for two years. In 2019, I became the Head of the Construction and Road Construction Equipment Department. This year I moved to international business.
- The work of a leader is not easy and comes with a lot of responsibility. Share what is the most difficult and the most interesting for you in your job?
- The most engaging thing for me is working with people, observing their development, and direct participation in it. I always try to accept into my team people with growth potential. Once I got acquainted with a peculiar saying: you need to choose people for your team the way you choose a car; for example, will it be Fiat, which can reach speeds of up to 100 km/h, or Ferrari, capable of accelerating to 300 km/h... We need to strive to work with people with Ferrari potential who will be able to "accelerate" in the future. In my work, I always try to adhere to this concept.
The most challenging thing, in my opinion, is working with people as a team. All people are different, and everyone has their own approach to work, their character, and outlook on things. At the same time, it is necessary to create an atmosphere in the team where working is comfortable. It is important that people are motivated to work and accomplish their tasks.
- The Department of Construction and Road Construction Equipment is very versatile - it includes several represented brands, used equipment, rental equipment, etc. And, despite the scale and diversity of the department, the team is friendly and close-knit. Can you share how you maintain such an atmosphere in the team and motivate them for new achievements? What qualities do you value in people?
- For the team to have a comfortable, or, as I call it "working" atmosphere, it is crucial for specialists to clearly understand what is required of them, what goals they face. And my task, as a leader, is to make sure that specialists fully understand their responsibilities. It is also very important for the specialist to feel the manager`s sincere trust in themself.
I always try to communicate more with my employees. It is principal to do this on an equal footing, lowering barriers. Every working day in our team starts positively, with light conversations and jokes - even in difficult times, we try to maintain an atmosphere of lightness and positiveness. Once we had a satisfactory tradition of holding quarterly meetings, and, since then, we regularly get together with the whole team and have a joyful time together.
Speaking about important qualities for me, first, I appreciate in people their decency.
- To motivate their team, first, the leader needs to be resourceful. What inspires you, and where do you get your energy?
- My main incentive and motivator are my family. Frankly, I learn a lot from my children. I often note for myself the words they said and am surprised at their depth and truth.
Also, thinking about my work in Borusan Cat Kazakhstan and the fact that I spent 15 years within its walls, I understand how much I like to be a part of it. Indeed, over the years, a very comfortable, motivating atmosphere has also been created for me, which year after year strengthens the company`s loyalty more and more. At different stages of my work for the company, I faced various challenges, which created a unique interest in the work. The biggest challenge for me in my career, by far, was the transition from the Department of Mining Equipment to the Department of Road Construction and Construction Equipment.
- What advice would you give to young professionals starting their career in our company?
- I shall admit that each generation has radically new views, new expectations, and approaches to business. Most likely, we were like that at one time - extremely ambitious, striving to achieve everything at once.
I would advise one to boldly accept challenges and confidently change their environment, leave their comfort zone, and I am talking from experience. After all, any changes inevitably entail one`s development. Due to the limited amount of time, one must quickly adapt, build up skills, gain new experience. Yes, it may not be comfortable and not always pleasant, but it gives one a good start, facilitates one`s subsequent work.
I wish you to be confident and trust yourself. Learning to understand people is not easy, but this is a key skill to develop and to be able to trust yourself in the future.
For another Borusan Cat journey story
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Manara is marketing communication specialist in Borusan Cat Kazakhstan. She defines herself as a person, who is always open to change, who loves development and continuous improvement in everything. Manara loves to travel and study the culture and traditions of other countries and nationalities.