Recruiting for the Future

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Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Miras Khabibulla featured above

USAID is Helping Young Kazakhstanis Explore Jobs in Emerging Professions

When he graduated in 2020 with a degree in economics from Nazarbayev University, Miras Khabibulla had plans to work in finance or management consulting. An internship opportunity in data analytics, however, introduced him to new opportunities and perspectives. “Working for the USAID-sponsored e-commerce project at Magnum changed my plans. I think that ‘Big Data’ is an exciting new area now,” he says. 

Today, Miras, 23, is a junior data scientist with the retail chain, Magnum, one of the company’s 1,264 new hires resulting from a successful collaboration with USAID.

Miras is young, proactive, and passionate about business and data science. Last year, he participated in a case competition organized by Magnum, where he was named a runner-up. Magnum offered Miras and other top finalists internships with the company. “I started to understand the importance of data analytics for business and decided to grow in this area,” he reflects.

Kazakhstan’s youth are already shaping the country’s future, and their preparation and employment choices today, will shape their possibilities tomorrow. Creating employment opportunities and multiple pathways for youth to enter the workforce requires coordinated efforts from all stakeholders engaged in job creation. That is why, USAID’s Future Growth Initiative collaborates with industry leaders willing to grow and acquire the skills and investment needed to support this growth.

Magnum, Kazakhstan’s largest retail chain, is one such partner. Magnum aims to improve the quality of life and support family budgets for the 300,000 customers who shop daily across the chain’s 97 stores in 10 regions.

In the summer of 2020, COVID-19 pandemic-related lockdowns required the company to consider new ways of working, including online sales. The company recognized the possibilities e-commerce could present for both its business and its customers, but lacked the experience, digital skills, and upfront investment required to move online. A Magnum team worked tirelessly to design an e-commerce transition project, which would include the development and launch of a mobile application and a database to support online shopping for thousands of clients. To fill its knowledge gaps, Magnum applied for support from USAID’s Future Growth Initiative in August 2020 and was named a finalist in a competitive selection process.

“USAID’s assistance helped us attract much-needed digital workforce skills as soon as possible to develop and test software products,” says Baurzhan Yestayev, Optimization Director for Magnum’s finance department. “We hired 391 people to work for the e-commerce project, 173 of whom are young specialists. Others were hired to work in various departments across Magnum supporting its growth. We understand what future skills we need to address emerging technological trends and are constantly looking to recruit the best talent around.”

Following his internship with Magnum’s e-commerce initiative, Miras was offered a full-time position with the company’s e-commerce division. Despite taking a different path than the one he planned after graduation, Miras notes, “I take pride in the work that I do and plan to grow further as a data scientist.”

Thanks in part to his work and USAID assistance, Magnum has successfully launched an e-commerce application, developed software products, and launched an online platform connected to physical stores, enabling customers to save time and money, making shopping from home and speedy delivery of goods 24 hours-a-day, a reality.

Last updated: January 18, 2022

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