Kamshat Baizhanova: be competitive not inside, but outside the company

14 July 2022

Building values and an open corporate environment in which every employee can see and understand their strengths and unlock their potential – these are principles that, according to Tengizchevroil (TCO), should guide every Kazakhstani organization. The number of people who want to join TCO is always increasing, and the company receives a huge number of applications for every position it opens. In an interview with “Vlast”, TCO Human Resources General Manager, Kamshat Baizhanova, explained the finesse of hiring and the importance of corporate culture.

- Kamshat, tell us about yourself, why did you choose this profession?

- I grew up in Atyrau and finished Atyrau State University. The pedagogical degree gave me a strong foundation and the basic knowledge required for my profession: English language, psychology and sociology. I received a MSc degree in Human Resources Management (HRM) at Kazakh-British Technical University, and later I got an international certification by Global Remuneration Professional and so on. I have been studying all the time and I have practically never had a period in my life when I have not studied. And this constant development helps me maintain a progressive trajectory in my work and life. I am engaged in the development of human capital, and this is exactly what I have always wanted to do, given the opportunity to introduce and contribute many new things in this area in our country.

- Is it difficult for women in Kazakhstan to make a career in oil and gas industry?

- There are still enough barriers and difficulties for women leaders in the modern world. But I am convinced that successful leadership is not limited to a certain gender, it is focused exclusively on the professional qualities of a person. I must admit, I was lucky to gain my experience in international companies, where diversity and inclusion are the main values and principles. In TCO, all policies and procedures are also aimed at providing equal opportunities to all employees regardless of gender or ethnicity, sex, age, education, religion or culture. It is considered that men and women in a team complement each other. It is complementary, not interchangeable. If the heads of any companies understand this, it will lead the company to success.

- People say that TCO corporate culture is different from many companies in Kazakhstan. What are the essentials, what is it based on? What tools do you use to support such culture?

When a new employee joins TCO, this person is always introduced to a document called the TCO Way, which outlines our company values and how we work. But it is not enough just to verbalize, for example, about the principles of safety. It is important to provide the employee with timely access to all the necessary tools, resources and trainings that will help him follow these principles. Leaders also play a significant role in developing culture, and we begin with them if we introduce any enchantment in corporate culture. They are like pioneers to check everything for themselves and then help their teams to accept the changes. It is important that leaders are open, accessible and cultivate an environment where each employee can understand their strengths and can unlock their potential. And one more detail: our company creates the conditions for personal and professional development. Any ideas or innovative proposals are considered and encouraged. We even have a special platform where any employee can contribute his idea where it is processed, analyzed, and, if it is beneficial, it will be implemented.

There are a lot of factors that influence the creation of a certain culture in the company. And the most important thing here is not to expect quick results because to write it in a strategy or communicate it is quite different from seeing how it works in reality. It is always nice to see how the desired behavior is embedding among employees and that is how the TCO culture evolved.

- At the same time, many HR professionals know that the best personnel tend to work for TCO. How do you manage to get the best professionals? How is it possible?

- TCO’s recruitment process begins with strategic planning. We systematically analyze what the company needs for its development, what skills and competencies TCO needs to develop or look for among future employees, both in medium and long terms. Recruitment process is automated and transparent. A link and instructions are posted on TCO’s website to ensure that all applicants have equal access to them.

After the search, the selection process begins that consists of several steps with mandatory involvement of an independent representative who monitors transparency and equity during the evaluation of candidates. In some cases, especially during mass recruitment, testing is used as an additional stage of selection. It should be noted, as I said earlier, that we have certain values and behavioral aspects that we expect from employees now and in the future. They are also included in the selection process as an interview profile form, which evaluates not only technical competence, but also leadership and behavioral competencies. And you know, we are looking not only for experienced specialists. We are also interested in talented graduates of higher educational institutions, so we regularly hold job fairs.

- So, as you say, there is a fair and square selection and there are no employees who were hired “by call”?

- We admit that people may assume this, but the selection process is designed in such a way, including by involving third-party specialists and other multi-stage steps, that hiring someone "by call" is excluded. You know, we have a large number of candidates, but not a lot of vacant positions, and let’s say, for example, there are 200 applications for one open position. We must understand that only one will be chosen and as a result, 199 applicants remain dissatisfied. At the same time, if you fail once, you can apply one more time. But again, we receive 200 applications, and people think that since they fail several times, it’s all for a reason. Sometimes, for example, a person passes the technical competencies assessment, but leadership or behavioral competencies are not suitable. This is not to say that they are hired “by call”.


- TCO plays an important role in Kazakhstan’s economy and the development of human capital, and they are just one of the most important aspects in this work. What is your contribution?

- Undoubtedly, TCO plays a very important role both in Kazakhstan’s economy and in the development of workforce. The company invests a lot in trainings, mentoring programs and international assignments.

In fact, the scale and complexity of the Tengiz field development and operation creates an excellent environment for learning and development. For example, the Future Growth Project, where the most advanced technologies, equipment and processes are used is enabling thousands of Kazakhstanis to acquire unique experience working at one of the largest oil and gas projects in the world. Kazakh specialists are being trained and after the project is completed, they will be able to compete in projects of a similar scale in the global oil and gas market. About 94% of employees in TCO are Kazakhstani personnel. And those people who have received knowledge from us, gained work experience and left, create similar standards and requirements further. Therefore, I think that TCO has a tremendous impact, both from the side of human capital development, and from the side of people management and in all other aspects.

Another effective example is the Horizons Program, which accelerates the development of technical competencies of new employees by bringing them in line with global standards. In addition, TCO sends high-potential employees to temporary international assignments to Chevron subdivisions around the world to gain international experience. This experience is then crucial for career development and for working in the global oil and gas market. Having studied and gained experience, they replace foreign specialists and are promoted to more responsible and high-level roles.

In addition to workforce development, TCO also thinks about how to develop the industry in tune with the times. TCO experts arrange lectures in various themes for Kazakhstani university and college students. They share best practices and talk about professional skills and competencies required to succeed in an international company.

The workforce development system at TCO is aimed at training competitive Kazakhstani personnel who will be able to perform the required functions in a safe and duly manner, as well as to be able to find and make the right decisions in a difficult situation. We are sure that the uniqueness of talents, experiences and ideas of each person are necessary for our company’s success and development.

- As a woman, I wonder how you manage to cope with the duties of a mother of three children, a wife and a leader. Please share useful tips: how do you manage your time and responsibilities?

- For me personally, this is a very important issue. My family is the highest priority for me. I have great respect for our traditional values and Kazakh customs, it really helps us Kazakhs to keep our uniqueness. It so happened that a woman in our society should cope with different tasks at the same time. This is a huge job for sure, but at the same time it helps women develop and improve themselves and achieve work-life balance. If the family has been established as a social unit and is developed and self-sufficient, then I do not see any problems with observing customs and traditions, professional growth at work, and sufficient attention to the family. And here the support of the whole family is very important. I am very grateful to my husband for his support in all my endeavors.