Alum Andrew Powers Gains HR Experience in Kazakhstan

Andrew Powers graduated from the MA-HRIR program in 2009 and joined Chevron immediately after that. He also served on the CHRLS Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2010-2013. Powers was kind enough to share some of his experiences since graduating, such as moving with his family to Kazakhstan for two years to work in HR there, and back to the U.S., where Powers now works as an Executive Compensation Advisor at Chevron’s headquarters in San Ramon, CA.

  • You recently spent time working in Kazakhstan; how did this come about?

o   Andrew Powers: I have always had a strong interest in gaining international business experience.  In Chevron’s HR Development Program I was able to get experience through a six-month assignment in Manila, Philippines. This experience confirmed my interest in HR roles outside of the US and led to me expressing interest to my HR management team for future international assignments. Eventually, a role became available in Chevron’s joint venture operation in Atyrau, Kazakhstan called Tengizchevroil.

  • What kind of work did you do there/what was your role or position?

o   Powers: While in Kazakhstan, I was the HR Business Partner and Advisor supporting a business unit of approximately 3,300 employees. My duties were heavily focused on developing the Kazakh HR workforce as well as supporting the business on major initiatives such as strategic staffing, talent management, and policy development.

  • How long were you there?

o   Powers: My family and I were there for two years. During this two-year span, we were able to experience many different parts of the Kazakh culture. In addition to experiencing many different parts of Kazakhstan, my children were also able to meet kids from all around the world through attending an English-speaking international school. It is important to my wife and I that our kids are able to experience different cultures and languages.

Was working in Human Resources in Kazakhstan different than working in HR here in the US?

  • Powers: Yes, I would say so. Being in a different country, I had to quickly educate myself on the local workforce and factors that come into play with staffing an organization. Additionally, it was a top priority to understand Kazakh labor laws and policy so that I could help the business remain compliant at all times.

What were the challenges of working in Kazakhstan? Benefits?

o   Powers: One of the challenges about working in Kazakhstan was the language barrier.  Due to Russian and Kazakh being the primary languages, I would often have a translator with me to ensure I was understanding the full conversation.  Although it (language difference) was a barrier at times, it was also an opportunity for me to learn a different language and develop my skills to ensure messages were tailored for various audiences and backgrounds.

What are you doing now?

o   Powers: I am now Executive Compensation Advisor at Chevron’s headquarter office in San Ramon, CA.  In this role, I am helping lead design, development, and analysis of competitive pay programs for our executive employee population.

Did your time at the Carlson School prepare you well for your career?

o   Powers: The Carlson School has prepared me well for all of my jobs.  Since graduating from the HRIR program in 2009, I have taken on seven different roles within Chevron ranging from generalist to specialist roles like labor relations and compensation.  My course studies at Carlson and my internships have provided a very nice foundation helping me deliver value-added results to the business.

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