Almas Zhumanov, Irvine, California, CEO at Lighthouse Corp. USA
About career and development of Lighthouse
It all started with the fact that we are, young architects, created our own company right after graduation. This was in the early 2000s, before the start of the construction boom in Kazakhstan. We did not agree with what was happening in the construction industry. We wanted to build beautiful, high quality, fashionable buildings like in other countries.
At that time, no designer in Kazakhstan knew how to build fashionable buildings. They could not prepare a project like The Ritz-Carlton. Therefore, foreign architects were invited to the country. Clients paid them big money, but did not get the desired result. We became the link that understood the building codes of the country and could find the best solution together with foreigners. We occupied this niche, got acquainted with all the best architects who at that time worked in Kazakhstan. We were engaged in adapting their projects to our realities.
We are represented on the market of Kazakhstan and the USA
We wanted to become a big company, the best in our field. Knowledge of languages helped us. We absorbed the experience of foreign colleagues and quickly learned from them. Gradually, large clients began to come to us, and we offered them our own projects of an international level.
Today we are engaged not only in design, but also in construction, development, and project management. We are presented on the market of Kazakhstan and the USA. Employees of Lighthouse Kazakhstan participated in the creation of large projects, for example, The Ritz-Carlton, Esentai, and built the Forte Bank head office. Lighthouse Corp. USA is engaged in development. We prepare projects for renting in resort towns. We spent a lot of time getting production licenses and opened a small container manufacturing plant. We create modular buildings, and our architects from Kazakhstan are engaged in design.
About the role of the leader in the company
First of all, the leader must dream, set big goals and inspire the team by example. They should demonstrate their ability to learn, be flexible, humane, and honest. It is most important.
The leader must dream and inspire the team
The leader is the person who is always most interested in the project. Even if there is no one around me to help me, I will build the project by myself. This is my attitude to work — I do not neglect physical labor, I can help at a construction site, show how I can do better. And I notice that it inspires the team. With this attitude, people also actively strive to achieve a joint result.
An important quality of a leader is to be close to the team, to act as a helping hand.
About the peculiarities of management in the USA
After four years in the US, I have a different perspective on business and team management. There are several important points that work differently here:
1. The value of human labor
In my opinion, people in Kazakhstan often do not know how to appreciate the work of other people. This applies to both the management style and the performance of each individual employee. For example, a monthly salary system devalues daily work. An employee can tune in to work for a week, and by the end of the month remember the deadlines and results.
In the States, work is always well paid. There is an hourly payment system. If an employee works longer than the prescribed time, the payment for each additional hour is one and a half times higher. With such a system, the value and efficiency of the real hour increases. You measure people's performance in short intervals, Monday through Friday. This changes relationships within the team.
2. Personal value
In the United States, there are other values, concepts of mutual respect. In our workshop there are posters stating that no one has the right to offend in any way employees in the workplace. All people are protected by the law.
3. The value of personal time
Kazakhstan has a small market, low competition, therefore labor is ineffective. People do not value their own time. If a manager delays at work, employees take it for granted. From the American point of view, they are simply wasting their time.
In the States, people will never do something for nothing. When your time is appreciated at work, a person also begins to value his personal time and his life.
I would like to instill this culture in an office in Kazakhstan. Our employees also work on American projects. So they see the difference in the corporate culture and the format of communication. They gain international experience while being in Kazakhstan. And I would like to involve our specialists in American projects.
We show the team that the world is big, that they can live and work anywhere. We treat with understanding if they leave to develop further. We are glad when people change their lives.
About the lifestyle of a leader in the United States
After moving to the United States, not only my understanding of working with people changed, but also my attitude towards my own schedule.
In Kazakhstan, like other leaders, I hardly spent time with my children. For the sake of a career, I had to sacrifice personal time. For example, it was normal for me to fly from Almaty to the capital for just one meeting. It seemed to be effective. But now I understand that in fact it was possible to resolve the issue by e-mail and spend the free time at your own pleasure.
People make many sacrifices for success
In Kazakhstan, young people have huge ambitions, exaggerated demands for life, which often disturb them. People make many sacrifices for success. In the US, people value the efficiency of life. They do not sacrifice their own pleasure for the crazy pursuit of success. They are in no hurry. They perform their duties well and live in abundance.
We have simple plans. We create interesting projects. For example, we are building a resort yacht club in the desert. We can afford bold, ambitious decisions. The next goal is to become a large development company in the construction industry in the United States.