Rising Opportunities in the Asian Market, My Kilpatrick Experience by Aliya Zhamalbekova

Aliya Zhamalbekova is a Client Director who focuses on projects in the Asian Market. During her career in Kilpatrick she has helped establish business opportunities in a vast and competitive market successfully. During this interview she gave us her insights into how she views the headhunting industry, the shifts she has witnessed and how her personal experiences have given her the tools to be successful at finding the best candidates for clients. 


Could you describe your role at Kilpatrick, the main colleagues you work with and for which countries you mainly work? 

I’m a client manager. Basically my job consists of searching for the candidates as well as managing current and new clients. It is very much 360, where I can do independent work and research while still helping with new projects. Also I am available to assist with recruitment in a specific market. Right now I work mostly alongside Jing, she is from China and we have a couple assignments there, as well as in Thailand. Our main focus is the Asian Market, such as China and Southeast-Asia, as those are quite booming right now. Moreover, we’ve previously also been involved with our Milan team on projects for IT roles under the name of Kilpatricks’ division ‘Taskforce’


How did you start your career and arrived at Kilpatrick? 

I joined at the beginning of February 2021. Prior to joining Kilpatrick, I already have been working as a recruiter for more than 5 years in one of the largest global recruitment firms in China. Just before the pandemic striked, my family and I decided to move to Kazakhstan, and luckily I was headhunted by an ex-colleague at Kilpatrick to join the Kilpatrick family to develop the China market. At that time I was focusing mostly on the Chinese market because we were getting the Chinese business license. Together with a colleague in China our major focus was Business Development in this region. 


What do you enjoy most about being a headhunter? 

The research and communication aspect of the business has a great appeal to me. I love talking to people and finding new information. I think one of the reasons why I became a Head hunter is because I studied law and what I love about law is finding the little clues and making things fit together. I didn’t like the potential idea of intense legal work though. So being a headhunter gives me the research satisfaction, which I love as well as meeting new people and developing a deeper understanding of cultures and business. 


How would you describe working in a culturally diverse and international company?

I really love working in a culturally diverse team. In my previous job I worked for a company that did have foreigners, but still the majority of the team was Chinese. So I wouldn’t say it was very diverse. In Kilpatrick however I have both,  I work alongside Chinese people but also people from Turkey, Milan, Mexico and our team all around the world. This gives me greater insight into different cultures and traditions which enhance my skills as a professional to do business with anyone worldwide.


What industry shifts have you experienced when you started out your career to now? And could you point out shifts that you’ve experienced especially in Kazakhstan and China (Asia market)?

I started out focusing mostly on the energy industry, so mostly for battery based companies focused on automotive production. That’s what I was working to develop. But since then, the current market is shifting towards finding alternative fuel rather than just a battery because manufacturing batteries, especially for big cars, takes a lot of resources. So it’s not always that green I would say. So one of the shifts I would say is companies developing alternative fuels which requires us to look for different roles and people with other skills. A second shift I am seeing is the sharp growth in demand for people in IT. 

In China on the other hand, Covid is rising badly, strict restrictions and lockdowns are impacting the country’s economy and resulting in headcount cuts and freezes. A lot of foreign enterprises are moving their businesses to other countries in Southeast Asia, so we are seeing rising opportunities in multiple countries in the ASEAN market.


Describe your most challenging assignment of 2022 and how you succeeded.

The most challenging assignment, I would say, was for a client that needed to find people in the short term because they had a project that required a team that was willing to relocate to Switzerland.  We had an extremely short period of time to find these candidates and also convince them to relocate. Adding to this, it was still pandemic, so people were worried about relocating to different countries, being away from their families and taking a leap of faith. Our job requires us to take into consideration both the client and the candidate’s needs and find the right balance that benefits both parties and we were able to do that successfully.


What insights can you give on the current market requirements that employers as well as candidates seek?

Right now there is a big gap between candidate requirements and the client requirements.

A lot of candidates search for remote work specifically for the IT industry. They want to do remote work, compensation doesn’t really matter as long as they are able to work from anywhere. On the client side, for example, our clients would prefer them to start hybrid or even full-time in the office. So I would say that is the biggest mismatch that we have right now in the market. It is challenging to find people who are open to going back to the office. 


How would you summarize 2022 at Kilpatrick in three words and what are you looking forward to in 2023? 

2022 was exciting and challenging.  We are developing new markets and I attribute the success we had to great teamwork from all the Kilpatrick team. I think that one of the best things that I like about Kilpatrick is the support I have received from the team. There have been no barriers between us despite sometimes being on the other side of the world. I have learned so much business and personally from my colleagues. Hopefully in 2023 we are able to collaborate even more!