How Kazakhstani companies continued to develop during the crisis

In March 2020, Kazakhstan faced the COVID-19 pandemic. Our life has changed dramatically, and many familiar things and events have become completely different. For a long time, society got used to the new realities that affected business as well. In a rapidly changing situation due to the closure of borders and the prohibition of offline contacts, companies had to adapt quickly to the new environment and revise the algorithms of business processes.

- Tell us how the pandemic affected the work of the company? Has your approach to work changed now, in this new reality?

- Of course, this situation influenced us, and we had to reconsider a lot of things. To some extent, we found ourselves in an uncomfortable position, but I think that such unforeseen “shake-ups” are necessary for business. If we talk about profitability and development, then our company did not decrease its turnover, but to some extent even grew. We considered and launched new projects that have become relevant in connection with the pandemic.

Companies with uncompetitive services and goods, weak customer focus and management system found themselves in a difficult situation, while those who showed flexibility, retained critical thinking and business focus, remained “afloat”.

When the introduction of the state of emergency and the lockdown were announced, we had to reorganize to a new operating mode, to switch to remote access. In turn, the top management team in the board of directors strengthened their work and kept in touch with employees almost 24/7. This was the period when we redefined and adapted all workflows.

In any crisis situation, the most important thing is not to stray from the general course. A clear vision and long-term strategy enable the company to survive the crisis. In this case, the head of the corporation acts as a risk manager, and his main goal is to ensure a constant focus on the tasks set. During this period, three things come to the fore for the team - communication, support and the ability to focus on the main thing. For the leader himself, during a crisis, some other things are important: simplification, when the most important is put in priority, as well as consistency and entrepreneurial intuition.

As the quarantine eased from May 2020, we began phasing in employees whose work was urgently needed to keep all the companies under our management running. This gave us the opportunity to review our workload as a whole, as well as our staff structure and composition.

- Usually a crisis situation helps to see the weak and strengths in the work of any company. In practice, how have you dealt with business difficulties in connection with the pandemic?

- During the crisis, along with the renewal of the team, our company relied on flexibility and speed. The following business competencies have come to the fore: the ability to change priorities, increase productivity, make decisions quickly and implement them.

We started working more actively, deadlines were reduced everywhere and tasks were optimized. It often happened that, under quarantine conditions, it was not known in advance about the restrictions that would come into effect in the near future. For example, it was necessary to make some kind of delivery today, and we had a corridor of several hours, since the next day movement around the city could be limited. We had to react quickly, think ahead. Also, during this period, we began to develop in the field of manufacturing disinfectants and manufacture MDMs (mobile disinfectant means).

I believe that efficiency emerges in times of crisis. In a difficult situation, there are only two options - to step up and work in a new way, or to fail. Therefore, we analyzed the current state of affairs, mobilized all resources and went through a difficult period without major losses. Once again, I was convinced that my team consisted of professionals and, in general, decisive people who know how to endure crisis moments.

An enterprise can be compared to a living organism that grows, develops, learns to survive in difficult situations. The same thing happened to us: in unforeseen conditions, we managed to quickly tune in to work in new realities. Having received this experience, we realized that we are now ready for almost any external challenge.

- What is ultimately the key point in anti-crisis management? What do you think defines the so-called “growth point” for a business?

- Positive thinking. I believe that in a crisis situation it is not worth focusing on problems. It is important for a leader not to focus on difficulties, but to look for ways to solve them. Flexibility and adaptation, adjustability to the new conditions in which you work are also very important.

In general, any crisis should be perceived as a recurring event. The economy develops cyclically and presents periodic booms and bumps. It must be remembered that crises have occurred and will always occur. This is not a unique event that has been deeply studied for a long time. The crisis is a time of new opportunities that help companies continue to grow and the economy to develop.