Updates from IBD Kazakhstan – Team IAB

Andrew Lee is a full-time MBA student working on a Spring 2014 International Business Development project in Kazakhstan. His team is working with the International Academy of Business (IAB), a Kazakh university based in Almaty.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is the Central Asian country where our International Business Development (IBD) team spent three weeks for our consulting project. During the country selection process for the project, David Lashley, Andrew Lee, Joe Regenbogen, and Kory Vargas Caro applied for an adventurous country. We were fortunate to receive our assignment of Kazakhstan, a country that is not a well-known business and travel destination for United States citizens.


View of the mountains outside Almaty from our apartment

Our project involved consulting for the International Academy of Business (IAB), a Kazakh university based in Almaty, in their quest to become more a more entrepreneurial university. Throughout the engagement we met with a variety of internal and external stakeholders, and local universities to understand the educational climate and local conditions. One fun event involved sitting on a university panel to students.


MBA 2015 students seated left to right Andrew Lee, David Lashley, Joe Regenbogen, Kory Vargas Caro, during a panel with Kazakh students regarding entrepreneurship

The scope of our project focused on the faculty and developing their entrepreneurial skills. Specifically we formulated recommendations regarding talent management, process efficiency, and curriculum redesign.

In addition to our work we also enjoyed the local culture. In the picture below we explored the Green Bazaar. People shop at this market for ready-to-eat food, drinks, groceries, and merchandise. While there we enjoyed mare’s milk and camel’s milk.


Kory Vargas Caro (MBA 2015) accepts mare’s milk from a local vendor

We also explored the countryside by taking visits to the mountains, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tamgaly Petroglyphs, which date to the Bronze Age.


David Lashley, Kory Vargas Caro, Joe Regenbogen, and IAB employee Dias Bakasarin in the mountainside just south of Almaty

When interacting with Kazakhs they frequently inquire what we have learned about their country or what surprises us. In truth we were impressed with the beauty of this land. It is filled with generous and warm-hearted individuals who have welcomed us, helped translate during our interviews, and showed us true hospitality. We all leave with an appreciation for the future growth potential of Kazakhstan.


From left to right: a Suleyman Demirel University employee , IAB employee Dias Bakasarin, David Lashley, Joe Regenbogen, Kory Vargas Caro, and Andrew Lee 


Left to right David Lashley, Kory Vargas Caro, Andrew Lee, Joe Regenbogen, and IAB translator Dina Teltayeva during a presentation to faculty and staff

Executive Education Helps Put Kazakh Railway on Track

They’ve been workin’ on the railroad: Sebastien Brion and Greg La Blanc of Exec. Ed. helped hone the leadership skills of railway managers in Kazakhstan

Tired of merely chugging along, a regulated monopoly with a Soviet-era organizational style turned to the Haas School’s Center for Executive Education (CEE) to become more competitive.

Kazakhstan’s national railway, Temir Zholy, partnered with CEE in September to train 130 of its leaders how to lead change, communicate up and down the hierarchy, and better listen to the customer to reorient strategic direction. “Temir Zholy is currently profitable, but keenly aware that it needs to change to survive in a more competitive and more dynamic transportation market,” says Haas Lecturer Greg La Blanc. La Blanc, Sebastien Brion, PhD 10, assistant professor at IESE, and Peter Wilton, senior lecturer, developed and delivered the curriculum for this custom program.

Participants learned about customer value, developing a performance-based culture, and building coalitions. They were guided, La Blanc says, to question the status quo and to think about how the world will change. “We encouraged them to identify all aspects of the business that could be improved, dividing them into teams to hone their ability to communicate, find common ground, and work fluidly in groups,” he says.

La Blanc observed that many of the participants were skeptical that they could learn much from people outside their industry. “I think we convinced them that we were not there trying to tell them how to run their railroad but to help them to realize that it was up to them to figure out how best to run the railroad . We were there to jumpstart that process.”

Abby Scott, CEE interim assistant dean, says the partnership speaks nicely to the work Haas is doing in emerging markets. “Haas has a lot to offer in markets like this because our instructors and students are very comfortable dealing with markets in flux,” Scott says. “We are in an environment that makes a habit of continually generating ideas and questioning the way things are done. This maps well to markets that are confronting major transformations–such as Kazakhstan.”