Manshuk Bekbolat:
"When I get into comfort zone,
I start moving forward again"

Manshuk Bekbolat: "When I get into comfort zone,
I start moving forward again"
Manshuq is looking for heroines whose success stories can inspire, teach and spur on something new. Today we publish a story about Manshuk Bekbolat, which demonstrates that sometimes to get an invitation to work abroad, it's enough to perform very well in your job.

You can also read this article in Russian (на русском языке).
Akzhelen Issabayeva
August 2, 2018
I started working while studying at a University - I have a financial education background. My first job was an assistant at a business center at the Intercontinental Almaty hotel. I used to take night shifts from 12 am to 8 am so I could study during the day. Immediately after work I used to go to the university and afterwards home to sleep off my busy day. That was a pretty dense schedule during my studies at the university: work – study – work – study. It was hard, but I really wanted to work to help my parents pay for my studies. It was important for me at the time to know that I was making a contribution to my family.
Once I graduated from KIMEP University (Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research) I joined the Interexchange Work & Travel USA program to experience life in the States and spent a 5-months break between my bachelor's and master's degrees discovering what it's like to live, work, and travel in America. Initially, like everyone else, I had to work for a sponsor, but eventually I found myself working for Aspect International Language Academies in La Jolla, San Diego. If a student is actively involved in orientation week activities, then he or she is offered a job at the Academy, where besides the Work & Travel program there was a second program of teaching English to foreign students. I was the lucky one and the Academy principal noticed me and offered me an assistant position. During this trip I've met and made many wonderful friends, with whom I still keep in touch. Eventually I had to return to Kazakhstan since I was automatically enrolled in MBA program at KIMEP. At the same time I was offered a position of HR Manager in a real estate development company within Ahsel Group that owns Intercontinental Almaty Hotel where I used to work while studying for my bachelor's degree in Public Administration and International Relations.
It was a challenge for me as it was my first job in HR and I had to build business processes from scratch: creating job descriptions (in four languages), procedures and rules; working with the Department of Ministry of Labor and Social Security to obtain work permits for foreign employees. It was difficult, but I did it. I also managed to fix other administrative violations that were done before my joining the company.

Six months later I received an offer to join the Embassy of South Africa. I accepted the offer since this work seemed to be very interesting. They were looking for a person (social/political secretary) who would assist the Head of Mission and support during ministerial and business negotiations. In parallel to the work in the Embassy, I was pursuing my master's degree.
The work at the Embassy was very interesting and intense, but I knew that if I continued working there,
I would not be able to use my knowledge and skills gained in MBA program.
Like my fellow students, I decided to pursue a career in the financial sector. I've started as an auditor at KPMG. After a year and a half, I joined Henkel AG, a German chemical and consumer goods company, as a business controller. Later, I was invited by Novartis Pharma Services, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, to join integration and consolidation project. After successful completion of the project I joined PepsiCo, an American FMCG company, to lead the Power of One project. This extensive experience has allowed me to move forward in my career, and I was invited to join Kar-Tel, Veon Group operating company in Kazakhstan, as head of Treasury Department.
I believe that besides professionalism trust is undeniably one of the most important factors in work relationships.
In Kar-Tel, from 9 am to 6 pm I was in charge of Treasury Department. After 6 pm I was also in charge of the Group's finance transformation project design and implementation. It took me some great effort to complete this project that went on for eight months, but it was all worth it.

Soon I received an offer to join the Business Controls team based in our headquarters in Amsterdam. Our Kazakhstan CFO's advice was to accept the offer as it promised career progression opportunities. I went through three interviews. Frankly speaking, I expected everything to be much more complicated, but two months later I found myself in Amsterdam, where I live for more than two years now. The company culture is very diverse, the team consists of professionals from Netherlands, Russia, England, USA, France, Italy, South Africa, Germany, Turkey, and many other countries.

I never thought of working abroad. I was quite satisfied with my work in Kazakhstan. I am a patriot of my country and I am open to challenging opportunities that can utilise my skills and experience in Kazakhstan. Although initially challenging, working abroad is an amazing experience.
When people ask me if I miss Kazakhstan, I answer that I simply do not have time for this. I'm busy with work, projects, I'm surrounded by interesting people, and I have my own hobbies. And, thanks to modern technology, I'm always in touch with family and friends in Kazakhstan.

Life in Amsterdam is comfortable and simple. Given that it is a relatively small city, everything is located quite close. You can walk or bike to just about anywhere you need to go. The urban infrastructure is well developed. Also, Amsterdam is a transportation hub with a large expat community, cheap flights are available from Schiphol airport to any destination in the world.
In Netherlands, almost everyone speaks English, which is a key factor for those who plan to move to the Netherlands to work or study. Knowledge of Dutch language is compulsory for citizenship. There are many foreigners who live and work here. Expats are eligible for 30% ruling benefits (a tax discount), which is a great advantage of working as an expat in the Netherlands.

In this country, women are highly respected by men. Here I have never experienced such thing as mansplaining, a phenomenon when a man comments on or explains something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner. Although it is fair to say that I have never experienced mansplaining while working in international companies in Kazakhstan as well.

There are few Dutch women in top management positions mainly due to high childcare costs I think.

I plan to move forward, grow and advance. I believe that when you are in a comfort zone, you need to look for new horizons. I also want to give back to the society. For instance, help others achieve their goals.

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Photos by Farley Mochan (Нидерланды)
Тэги: карьера, маншук бекболат