With more than 20 years of experience in the field of telecommunications, mobile products, and innovative technologies, Sergey Leshchenko, Country Manager of Microsoft Kazakhstan, is engaged in Microsoft’s strategic development. He cooperates with Kazakhstani customers and partners and is responsible for supporting the digital transformation of the country. We talked with Sergey about his professional journey and his view on the digitalization of the country.
Six years ago, you came to Kazakhstan and joined Microsoft family. What were your impressions of the country when you first arrived and how do you feel about it now?
When I first arrived, I found the openness of people for learning and searching for new opportunities and the desire to improve and develop to be very impressive. What brought me here were interesting projects and new opportunities. The Microsoft team and I worked on creating an application for watching videos, which was at that time one of the best in the country and we built a whole ecosystem with partners of the mobile operator. The market in Kazakhstan has a big potential in Central and Eastern Europe. From this position, I can contribute to the digital transformation of the country. This is an important topic as it can help in building a resilient society – the realities of doing business, entire industries and even the provision of public services. In addition, digitalization makes it possible to be more mobile, make decisions faster, and bring more positive results for people, the economy and society.
As a Country Manager, you drive the strategy successfully to support and accelerate the digital transformation of businesses, the public sector, and societies. Can you name some of the examples?
This voluminous and interesting work allows you to work with companies and people from various fields: education, finance, oil and gas industry, retail, construction, mobile communications, etc. We have successfully implemented Microsoft technology solutions for many large companies in Kazakhstan. Among them are: KazMunayGas, Kazzinc, Beeline, Kazteleport, BI Group, Astana Motors, KazMinerals, and many others.
Where do you see the potential of Kazakhstan?
When we launched Microsoft’s global digital skills education program in 2020, more than 30 million people around the world took part and gained new skills, and there were more than 19,000 Kazakhstanis among the participants of the program. These indicators exceeded the target statistics that we had set before the launch. The potential of the country is very big. There are many tech talents among young people, I see a growing interest in STEM, and increased interest for studying artificial intelligence and the sphere of new technologies in general. Recently, together with our partners, we have launched a series of Virtual hackathons on the role of artificial intelligence in the area of societal impact. Teams of our students from Kazakhstan took 1st and 2nd places. The teams developed services to combat domestic violence and the disappearance of rare species of animals. Such success stories motivate and inspire us to work towards the development of the country’s IT potential, support young talents, and provide opportunities for their realization. Seeing tech at work and its role in supporting society is impressive. Looking ahead, digital skills, and increased level of digital literacy of the population will bring more positive changes.
In your opinion, in which areas do you see a chance for improvement?
The modern world is rapidly changing the rules of the game and requires new approaches to work processes. Over the past few years, local companies have already had the opportunity to see from their own experience that, without the constant introduction of innovations and business transformation, it is impossible to maintain leading positions in the market. In addition, there is a clear understanding that digital transformation allows not only leading positions in the industry in Kazakhstan but also expands the possibilities of entering international markets. Today, Kazakhstan is one of the largest markets in the field of technological innovation in Central Asia, but I think that the potential for development in this direction is still very large. It is essential to understand what we can learn from more digitally advanced countries to speed up digital transformation to chart the fastest path to a greener, wealthier, more innovative, and more competitive future. For example, we can learn from Estonia as it has 99 percent of its governmental services delivered online. Another important point that I would like to draw attention to is the development of the education sector. The younger generation is the foundation of any society, and today more than ever, students deserve equal access to technology, international educational experience, and the best solutions. I am very pleased that for each of these tasks, our company can offer effective tools such as Microsoft Learn, GitHub, LinkedIn Learn, and other solutions to achieve amazing results together.
How do you see the future of digitalization?
We are entering a new era where every organization will become a digital organization, and every nation will become a digital nation. In this era, digital technology will be the key input that powers the world’s economic output. The world now stands at the crossroads of momentous change: geopolitical, economic, social, and technological. This places us at a historic intersection where tremendous opportunity is matched by an equally great responsibility towards the world around us. While no organization or nation can ever be 100% resilient in the face of adversity, those who persevere on the road to digital transformation will be more resilient than those who do not. Ubiquitous digital technologies — the cloud, AI, big data, modern networks, the digitization of every experience and business process — will provide the keys to transform growth. In the face of the many challenges of today’s world, we choose the path of digital perseverance.