Indians in Kazakhstan
Originally from Birmingham and part of a very traditional family, I've been fortunate enough to develop a career in the construction industry and work for a company that has embraced my enthusiasm and ambition.
The 15 months I spent as a project manager working for Turner & Townsend in Atyrau, Kazakhstan was nothing short of amazing and a real test of my confidence and resilience.
Turner & Townsend knew I wanted to work overseas and, in March 2011, when I was asked to be part of a new office in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, my first reaction was 'wow'. It was a huge opportunity but equally scary as it's not a country I've ever thought about visiting let alone working in. Like many other people I've spoken to in the UK, all I knew about Kazakhstan was what I'd seen in the media. I'm pleased to say that it is an amazing country and has equipped me with some lifelong lessons and many memorable adventures.
Underpinning my entire work ethic is sharing experiences and working together. With that in mind, here are some of the experiences I gained which may help other people, particularly women, wanting to work in Kazakhstan.
The quality of construction can be quite poor and in some instances shocking which indicates a lack of local skilled labour.
The weather ranges from -40C to +40C which had a significant impact on construction. Most external works come to a halt during the months of November to February. Not only was this difficult to work in but it was also hard from a lifestyle perspective. There was no surface drainage system in the city of Atyrau which meant that any rain and melted snow would remain for weeks. This combined with the soil and debris within the city meant that I went through so many pairs of footwear! Snow was even carted away to the outer city before melting, to lessen the impact of surface water.
Safety around Atyrau, Kazakhstan is also an issue. Common sense should be applied - so that means no wandering around streets alone at night. My firm had a clear policy of not allowing women to travel unaccompanied after dark and providing transportation where necessary which was re-assuring to say the least.