Microsoft has made significant contributions to Kazakhstan’s technology sector over the past 20 years. The company and its partners have provided innovative solutions and services, supported government initiatives, and helped advance the country’s digital innovation and technology skilling agenda, including the national cloud strategy. On that note, we had the pleasure of speaking with Rinat Gumarov, a Public Sector Account Executive at Microsoft Kazakhstan. Rinat has been a part of the Microsoft team for over two years and is a system engineering graduate with a passion for technology and its ability to positively impact people’s lives.
Given the significant growth in the technology industry over the past two decades, how do you ensure that you stay informed about the latest developments and trends, and how do you incorporate this knowledge into your sales strategies at Microsoft?
Working for a company that is a global leader and the most diversified technology company in the world, it is crucial to stay up to date with the latest industry events and trends. And it is quite easy to do so as you are practically at the epicenter of these trends. You just need your time and a willingness to learn. I strictly adhere to discipline and a strategy that allows me to allocate time to studying what corresponds to both the company’s strategy and my role in it, as well as my personal development. In Microsoft, all conditions are created to help employees stay abreast of the latest news and trends, and I actively use these resources in my work.
How do you manage relationships with existing customers and ensure their ongoing satisfaction with Microsoft products and services?
We apply a range of approaches. Firstly, we constantly communicate with our customers to understand their needs, problems, and preferences. We pay attention to their feedback and strive to respond to it as quickly as possible. Secondly, we aim to provide our customers with high-quality service and support throughout the entire lifecycle of our products. We invest in the development of our support and technical assistance services to ensure that our customers can always receive timely and effective help if needed. Thirdly, we continue to develop and improve our products to better meet the needs and expectations of our customers. We constantly monitor market trends and update our products in accordance with new technological requirements. Finally, we pay special attention to training and developing our customers, so that they can make the most effective use of our products and derive maximum benefit from their use. Overall, we aim to establish long-term relationships with our customers based on mutual trust, openness, and respect, and consider this to be a key factor in ensuring their ongoing satisfaction with Microsoft products and services.
Can you provide an example of a successful sales campaign or initiative in Kazakhstan?
Microsoft in Kazakhstan has been making strides in implementing innovative technologies in various industries. We helped hundreds of companies, government institutions, and NGOs to be more productive, secure in a digital world, and using the modern workplace solutions for hybrid work. One such industry is education. In our country winter temperatures often drop below -30°C, so the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS), a prestigious K-12 school network for gifted children, had to find a way to teach students remotely. This school was one of the first NIS facilities to implement Microsoft 365, which has become the main platform for distance learning in their schools. Even the oil and gas industry in Kazakhstan is not left behind in adopting advanced technologies. The North Caspian Operating Company (NCOC), a leading oil and gas company from Kazakhstan, is revamping its Information Technology Management (ITM) project management processes. To increase visibility, make collaboration easier, create efficient KPI management and reporting, the team relied on Microsoft’s Project for the web and the Power Platform. The aviation industry in Kazakhstan is also taking advantage of technology to improve its operations. Air Astana is the flag carrier of Kazakhstan and operates both domestic and international services across 64 routes in Eurasia. The company strives for the highest safety and customer service standards for both external and internal processes. To obtain timely financial reports, the company leveraged the power of Microsoft Azure Synapse Analytics together with Microsoft Power BI. Now, reports are generated within seconds instead of hours, boosting the team’s productivity and efficiency. Speaking of startups, Kazakhstan’s startup Uniqa is an example of AI use in everyday life. It is collecting and analyzing data from real conversations 24/7 in real-time and then displaying them in Power BI reports to use for better management decisions. These successful implementations of technology in various industries are a testament to Kazakhstan’s commitment to innovation and progress.
How do you stay motivated and engaged in your role as account executive, and what do you find most rewarding about working in this field?
To maintain high levels of motivation and engagement, I recommend some strategies. It is important to communicate regularly with customers. Frequent meetings and communication with customers help to understand their demands and expectations, as well as evaluate the quality of work and take measures to improve processes and products. Also, constantly developing professional skills, learning about the latest trends and technologies in the industry, and staying up to date will help work more effectively with customers and offer them the most appropriate products and services. Obtaining feedback from customers allows understanding which aspects of the work need improvement and which are already doing well. It also provides an opportunity to learn what to do to satisfy customers and retain them. Working with customers is impossible without a team that supports the customer service manager and helps achieve goals. Therefore, motivating the team, creating conditions for productive work, and ensuring a positive atmosphere in the team are key tasks for a manager. Overall, I believe that the work of a customer service manager is critical to the success of a company, as it affects customer retention and growth. Therefore, to be successful in this field, it is necessary to continuously develop skills, stay informed about industry trends and new technologies, be effective at communicating with customers, and motivate the team. This is all a reward for my work and allows me to stay motivated: bringing value, receiving feedback and also teamwork, sealed by the trust and culture of the company.
Hybrid work is here to stay. What strategies do you suggest ensuring effective collaboration and communication in a hybrid work environment?
Indeed, hybrid work is becoming increasingly popular, and to ensure effective collaboration and communication, various methods can be employed. Using technology for communication is essential, including video conferencing and messaging, to connect remote and office employees. Clear rules and regulations should be established to set expectations, connectivity, and evaluation guidelines. Regular communication between all employees, through weekly meetings, daily reports, or messaging, is important to ensure alignment towards shared goals. To avoid unequal task distribution between remote and office employees, equal opportunities should be provided to all employees. As the recent Microsoft Work Trend Index research shows, 68% of people say they don’t have enough uninterrupted focus time during the workday. And 62% of survey respondents say they struggle with too much time spent searching for information in their workday. Developing flexible work schedules or offering the option to work from home or remotely can help manage time effectively and maintain work-life balance. Finally, providing training and development opportunities can help employees adapt to the hybrid work environment and improve their professional skills. Recently, a meeting was held between the customer’s team and our team, with over 20 participants actively involved. Our team included individuals who spoke only English, while some representatives from the customer’s side were unfamiliar with the language. However, thanks to modern technology, everyone was able to understand each other. This is just one aspect of the matter. Can you imagine the possibility of physically gathering them all in one meeting, where our team members are from different countries, and the customer’s representatives come from multiple organizations and regions? This is now possible, and it is priceless. But on the other hand, live meetings are also priceless. Therefore, it is important to maintain a balance.
How do you recharge?
I try to maintain work-life balance. Time with my family and sports help me recharge. Besides, charging up means communicating and interacting with people, especially in the context of work, professional activities and hobbies. I enjoy exchanging ideas and experiences with colleagues, customers, and partners, and it truly energizes and motivates me. I believe that interacting with other people is a key aspect of successful work, and I enjoy building partnerships and helping others achieve their goals. I also feel charged up when I see the results of my work and receive feedback from people who have achieved more thanks to my help. I always strive to give my all and achieve maximum results in my work, so when I see that my work truly influences people’s lives and helps them succeed, it is a great source of motivation and satisfaction for me. I also always aim to improve my experience in working with technology and keep up with new trends and innovations in this field. I often read articles, participate in webinars, and communicate with experts in this area to expand my knowledge and skills. This helps me stay up to date with the latest trends and innovations in the technology industry and apply this knowledge to my work, which also charges me up with energy and motivation.