The "Alumni Association of Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business" is a non-profit organization that began its activities in 2017 and was officially registered in 2019 as a resident of the Astana International Financial Center on the initiative of active alumni of Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business.
In this interview, we talked to the leader and creator, chairman of the Association's Board - Nurassyl Ualievich Jarbassov, a graduate of the Executive MBA program in 2016.
1. Nurasyl, please tell us what you think is the purpose of creating such Alumni Associations?
- As you know, for many professionals, obtaining a master's degree marks not only the acquisition of certain academic knowledge but also a new stage in life. Many of them reconsider their career paths, changing their job place, specialization, or even profession, and some leave hired work for entrepreneurship or vice versa. Networking, as one of the program's core values, also serves the purposes of career management and planning. Thanks to the diversity in the program's cohort, students have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the experience of their classmates, and learn about the conditions and opportunities of various professions in various industries, in Kazakhstan and abroad, the quasi-public sector and government bodies.
Alumni communities serve an essential purpose of maintaining and sustaining networking beyond the end of the program, as it is just as important a program benefit as academic knowledge.
Furthermore, in general, we need to foster in Kazakhstan a culture of involvement of graduates into their alma mater's life and ecosystem, a culture of "giving back" to their schools, university, and our society, especially if they received their education through grants. Moreover, we see such involvement throughout the life of graduates in different forms, depending on their stage in life.
2. What do you think the Association gives to its members? What are the benefits for active members?
First of all, many useful events are held on an ongoing basis. Through our events, members can learn new insights from opinion leaders from Kazakhstan and from abroad. They can communicate with them, meet with their groupmates and representatives of other cohorts, present their ideas, discuss them, and find partners for their projects.
In addition, our members can exchange opinions and recommendations on employment or starting their own business, share ways to increase productivity, creativity and ability to work.
Also, we provide opportunities for all our graduates to use our platform to promote their personal brand, their business and develop expertise, allowing them to share their knowledge, skills, experience and vision, and declare themselves as an expert in their field.
3. What is the primary mission of the Association?
- The mission of the Association, which has proven its viability in 3 years, is to build a unique community of leaders, managers and entrepreneurs to find effective solutions to socio-economic problems, as well as assist the university in the strategic development of the intellectual, creative and business potential of graduates.
4. What makes our Association stand out? What are its features?
- The peculiarity of our Association is that it is a multilateral platform. We create value for and, what is very important, together with members of our community and our partners and with public and international institutions for the development and support of entrepreneurship. Furthermore, we bring together students and alumni of NU GSB by mobilizing, developing and positively transforming their abilities, qualifications, knowledge and experience to carry out the activities of the Association and implement its mission.
5. What are the central values of the Association? How are they broadcast to the target audience?
For us, the most valuable are:
• our students and alumni – we broadcast through our support platforms and help develop and promote their brand as experts, increasing their effectiveness and unlocking their potential.
• our Alma mater - we directly contribute to the School and the university's development by featuring our graduates, whose success, expertise, and recognition are the best evidence of the high quality of educational programs. Those success stories ultimately increase the attractiveness of NU GSB programs for potential candidates.
• partnerships - by providing access to unique expertise from a wide range of our graduates - experienced experts with proven business excellence in a variety of fields.
Our partners are the Atameken National Chamber of Entrepreneurs, the Bureau of Continuous Professional Development of Astana International Financial Center, NURIS, the Innovation Cluster of Nazarbayev University.
6. Describe the main directions of the Association's activities.
- In the development strategy of the Association, the four main areas of activity at the moment are:
1. Networking - creating opportunities and facilitating communication for alumni, students, faculty and staff of the School and University, as well as with interested third parties through holiday events, forums, business breakfasts, intellectual games, charity events and fees, etc.
2. Training - conducting training events for NU students and alumni, as well as partners and other interested parties, with the involvement of experts from among alumni and students of the School leading trainings, workshops, seminars, webinars, an online school, etc.
3. Research - conducting research in the fields of entrepreneurship, finance and economics, and writing business cases to promote the development of entrepreneurship
4. Promotion - creation and development of a channel for delivering value propositions of NPOs through the organization of promotion and communications of NPOs, PR and GR, using social media and mass media, and work with sponsors, primarily from among the graduates.
7. How does the Association help graduates, Kazakhstani society and NU? Please also tell us about the work of the Association in 2020-2021, in the midst of the pandemic.
We are happy to share our business knowledge and skills. For example, in 2018-2019 workshops on sales, export, finance, digital marketing and operational management were held free of charge for more than 100 business trainers of Atameken NCE. Also, active members of the NU GSB Alumni Association acted as co-authors and gave their expert review of the Bastau Business textbook.
At the same time, workshops and trainings on entrepreneurship, time management, financial literacy and public speaking skills were held for “Education for All” inclusive educational center at Nazarbayev University free of charge from experienced specialists, graduates of the NU GSB.
In 2019, seminars on entrepreneurship, finance, innovation and marketing were held for more than 90 startups and employees of NURIS, the Innovation Cluster of Nazarbayev University. In 2020, together with NURIS, a concept was developed and the School of Business Angels was launched for Kazakhstan, and not only investors. This year, the second stream of the School of Business Angels was also held in partnership with NURIS.
More than 30 useful webinars were held in the online format during the quarantine, free of charge, from alumni of the NU GSB and partners on the topic of children education, digital marketing, financial literacy, career guidance, etc. A series of hands-on workshops were held for the NU Alumni Union.
During the pandemic "Intobusiness", a series of live broadcasts on the Association's Instagram platform in the Russian and Kazakh languages was launched with our alumni who are professionals from various fields.
The Association actively supported and acted as the operator of the NU Community COVID-19 Solidarity Initiative, a charitable initiative of the Nazarbayev University community to combat COVID-19 for the country by supporting frontline workers: doctors, nurses, technical staff, etc. Thus, since April 2020, support was provided to hospitals in Kyzylorda, Taraz, Shymkent, Turkestan, Karaganda and Nur-Sultan in the form of PPE, food, thermometers and pulse oximeters, and etc.
In addition, the Alumni Association represented the NU Community COVID-19 Solidarity Initiative to provide sponsorship to health organizations in the form of providing personal protective suits, where the suits include: overalls with a hood, high shoe covers, medical gloves, FFP2 / N95 respirator, and safety glasses. This initiative came under the sponsorship of the NU Social development fund.
8. What are your future plans for the further development of the Association?
We do not plan to stop at what has already been achieved. We are already stepping up work in all areas.
However, in the current environment, we are also adapting with the times. For example, in terms of training activities, more emphasis will be placed on digitizing the expertise of our alumni to create a knowledge portal, with a view to its subsequent use by all members of our community.
We had taken part in the development of an overall strategy for engaging alumni of Nazarbayev University. Now, as part of the Alumni center, which includes representatives of all NU schools, we are starting to develop a strategy roadmap.
Our work also continues under the NU Community COVID-19 Solidarity Initiative.
There are plans to launch a cycle of interviews with Kazakhstani and foreign experts to conduct high-quality networking events, both open and closed.
9. How can alumni of NU GSB get involved in the work of the Association? What are your parting words and wishes to all NU GSB alumni?
We are open to all our students and alumni, ready to support them in their ambitious business and social projects. In order to be an active member of our community and enjoy all the benefits, you do not need an entrance fee, but only a positive attitude to business, enthusiasm and a desire to "give back" for the benefit of our community and the whole of Kazakhstan.
I wish all alumni of NU GSB, present and future, to always be proactive, and to use all the many opportunities and values that NU GSB programs offer us, invaluable networking during and after the program. Our alumni represent real experts from various fields and industries, and I wish all alumni to work with the spirit of mutual trust, mutual assistance and mutual support of our community in engaging the knowledge, experience and high moral qualities of our members.