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  • Working in Kazakhstan 

    The Expatriate guide to working in Kazakhstan 

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Working in Kazakhstan 

 

Kazakhstan's economy is advancing quickly, though newly arriving expat's should respect customs and relationships in order to succeed.

 


Doing Business

Doing business in Kazakhstan can take some adjusting for newly-arrived expats as many social rules and customs should be learned and used to prevent from offending business partners. 

During the 1990's, Kazakhstan went through a period of economic decline having lost ties with their largest supporter. More recently economic reforms and privatization have permitted tremendous growth and development into new sectors including energy and oil.  Now Central Asia’s largest economy, Kazakhstan's abundance of natural resources and agricultural products has ushered in a new future.  Expansion into world markets and economic diversification seem to the Astana's chief economic direction. Opening its economy and borders to the rest of the world, Kazakhstan offers interesting business opportunities.

Once again, be patient as business in Kazakhstan tends to take longer than in most western societies so patience and taking time to establish relationships with Kazakh colleagues is essential.

Many people in Kazakhstan are Muslim so it is not uncommon for them to take breaks from work during the day for prayer. Be aware of this as you do business with Kazakhs and try to schedule appointments around the prayer schedule if necessary.

 

Kazakhstan Business Facts

Russian is the main language, although English is commonly used in business environment and certainly the language commonly spoken among expats. LEARN THE LANGUAGE - Take the initiative and learn the local language. Doing so will help you gain respect among the locals.
From 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. People sometimes work half-days on Saturdays.
Mostly formal, but the warm climate means a suit jacket is unnecessary in many situations. Wear a dark suit for first meetings, after which long trousers and a shirt are acceptable outside the banking and finance sector. For women, skirts should cover the knee.
A handshake is appropriate when you greet business associates. Offer your business card formally with both hands. Address colleagues as Mr or Ms until told otherwise and always show respect to senior associates and older colleagues.
Take your time to get to know your business partners. Relationships are highly valued and your patience will be rewarded. Use proper protocol when meeting business partners, shake the right hand, not the left, study their business card when its given to you and treat it with reverence.

We have put together a collection of resources intended to help Expat Business People, including: Language Software, Professional Clothing & Attire, Business Cards, and more.

 

An experienced interpreter can be of great assistance at business meetings. Kazakhstan's hierarchical social structure translates into the business environment, so high ranking officials and partners will wish to meet with their equals. It is customary to shake hands and call people by their first names and last names at business meetings, as well as at informal gatherings and small talk commonly precedes any business negotiations.

Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men, and a suit or business dress for women; even at informal gatherings formal attire is often expected. The respective parties often give small gifts (pens, company logo pins or books) at the end of an initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are widely distributed, with Russian and English translations. Many people in Kazakhstan are Muslim and therefore often take breaks from work during the day for prayer; so consider prayer times when scheduling meetings.

In Kazakh business etiquette, initial introductions tend to be relatively informal.  Shaking hands and using first names is common, especially in more informal gathering's outside of business.

Generally speaking, business meetings in Kazakhstan are somewhat unstructured and open to variation.  Kazakhs are very traditionally oriented but recognize that in order to progress they must be open to new ideas. Meetings are often a place for discussion and new ideas.


The negotiation process in Kazakhstan can often become very lively and involved.  Kazakhs are known for their love of argument and debate but be sure that you never openly contradict someone who is more senior than you.

The exchanging of business cards is common practice.  Business cards should be translated into English and Russian.  When receiving a card it is polite to take a minute to look at it carefully before putting it away.

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