G4S has been in Kazakhstan for the past 15 years, and has a very different approach to providing security. The company had well-established procedures and controls that had never before been in place. Since then, the security business in Kazakhstan has made significant progress. Many people who have previously worked for G4S now work for other security companies or as security managers on the customers’ side. As a result, we share our experience—not very openly, but in reality the fact is that many companies use our approach to provide security services. Since the very beginning, G4S was the best in Kazakhstan. Although the market has grown in quality because of knowledge, procedures, and human capital, we still believe we are the leaders. My vision for the future of the security business in Kazakhstan is what we call at G4S “secure solutions.” It means we provide everything our customers need. It is our job to advise them. In December 2010, there were new changes to the Guardian Law, which became effective in January 2012. It has changed the face of the sector. Aside from bringing about consolidation, security businesses are now allowed to perform technology protection under their current licenses. Additionally, affiliated security companies within a group of companies are now not allowed to provide security services to that group. These regulations are directed toward ensuring more professional services.
Pedersen and Partners focuses on emerging markets, and we have offices all over the CIS region. Recently, we bought one of the first executive search companies in Russia, and their partners joined our team. In December of 2011, we also bought companies in Spain and Colombia, and now we have offices in Madrid and Bogotá. In Kazakhstan, we started doing business from Moscow, and one of the first executive searches we conducted was for an oil and gas company called KazMunaiGas, before it became nationalized. We helped the company prepare for an IPO and we assisted KazMunaiGas by bringing in a capable executive. We have been operating in Kazakhstan since 2005, and in 2007 we opened an office in the country. Since then, we have been very active in the local market. Expatriates who have never visited Kazakhstan are hesitant about living or working in the country. However, once they arrive, they find that Kazakhstan is truly different from their expectations. Expatriates often want to stay here beyond the terms of their assignment. When we ask why they have chosen to stay, they explain that they are intrigued by the mixture of culture here—it isn’t entirely Islamic or Eastern. We can also testify that it is much easier to do business here than in Europe or the US. The tax climate is much more comfortable, and there are many different projects to develop in Kazakhstan.
Our staff is exclusively Kazakhstani, and we have little experience with expatriates. However, the company has no problem working with international companies. Our first big experience of working with a national company was in 2008 when we won a tender from a large local holding. We spent six months negotiating, but the company came to us first. The difficulty was in regards to bureaucracy because we were forced to provide many documents. In terms of working, it takes time to get feedback. Kazakhstani companies have many levels of approval and multiple interview stages; the decision-making process is quite long. For private companies, the process is easier and simpler, as they aim to find the right person in a concrete period of time. They are commercialized and focus on business processes or improvement rather than on other obligations as employers. Other than that, there are no major differences between private and national companies. One of the reasons for our success is that we never compare ourselves to the competition; we believe that we have a personal strategy and our aim is to follow one mission. We are working to be in contact with our customers more and more, analyzing their needs and valuing their feedback. For the first time, we invited an international audit company to check our financial records for 2011, and the company listened to recommendations.
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