From Manager to Leader, How to Make this Journey Effectively

I was born in Kazakhstan, and I live and work in the cultural and financial capital – the city of Almaty. The name Almaty translates in to ‘city of apples’. Similar to ‘The Big Apple’, living here also demands quick thinking, commitment to your goals, and shining with your leadership to make it to the top.

My career in numbers spans over 20 years of experience in finance with 15 years in a managerial position and 12 years of those years in the pharmaceutical industry. I am grateful and proud for each of those years.

On my finance career path, I invested vigorously in developing finance expertise in several positions, starting from an auditor, then moving to an accountant, chief accountant, finance manager, and finally CFO/Head of Finance. My skillset grew from pure, transactional accounting towards becoming more strategic and operational throughout my career path that has led me through different industries – from auditing to mining and blasting, luxury retail, and finally pharmaceuticals.

It was not only job training that got me the new leadership role, but it was the desire to self-learn and self-develop. I believe that a proper education creates a good base for all good intentions. I received my PhD in Economics when I had just turned 21. Later in my career, I completed the Executive MBA program at KIMEP University, one of the leading business and economics institutions in Kazakhstan.

It was evolutional growth through which I gained business acumen and leadership skills.

Nowadays, I teach and speak as a guest lecturer at my alma mater and other universities on modules like organizational behavior, employee appraisals and promotions. A major topic I usually discuss with my students is leadership and its correct application that helps runorganizations seamlessly. Speaking on this topic allows me to dive deeper into the different dimensions of management and leadership.

When I started as a manager, I made several rookie mistakes. I didn’t set the best example of leadership behaviors and later realized that an MBA or Ph.D. degree does not give you a toolbox to become an authentic leader. Only through mentoring, fostering an inclusive environment, and showing leadership by example can elevate you from being a manager to a leader.

I joined Takeda in January 2016 as Head of Finance for the Asia-Caucasus Cluster and led nine countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus. After five years of successfully leading various finance projects and the team, in April 2021, I moved to a new role as Head of Business Operations of the Ukraine and CIS Cluster doubling my responsibility to 12 countries now.

Today, I lead a team of excellent experts in their fields and I am responsible for business intelligence, commercial excellence, strategy and launch excellence, project managementas well as communications. All my hard skills from finance are now almost discounted, and the only leadership competencies that could support me to be successful in my new role. It becomes possible mainly due to the right environment created by the Takeda leadership team to inspire and empower people to shine.

It was a great opportunity, and I successfully used the opportunity to change my role/position, which also became a challenge test for my “leadership” competencies.

In this regard, I like the famous quote – “Leadership is an action, not a position.” Related to Takeda, I’d rephrase the quote, “Leadership is a behavior and not a position.” At Takeda, we have a clear guide of four leadership behaviors, which means that the company translates to all managers what kind of leadership actions expect. This guide encourages leaders to create an environment that inspires and enables people to move the organization forward and elevate the organization’s capabilities for now and the future.

This year, we emphasize enabling leadership behavior at every level, meaning that managers and all employees at Takeda are encouraged to behave as leaders regardless of positions and roles. That is an excellent approach to my mind!

Now let me share with you four fundamental attitudes which help me in moving towards becoming a successful Takeda leader.

Speak up
This attitude was, and it is still, one of the most challenging for me to change in my behavior. I settled that the reason for the challenge could be cultural and educational experiences. I grew up in a traditional Kazakh family in a village with my grandparents, and in our culture, we hold elders in high regard and are expected to treat them with immense respect. In many cases, respect translated into accepting senior generation opinions without appeal and without interruption during conversations. The same is true for educational institutions in the former Soviet Union.

I focused on improving my public speaking and assertiveness competencies. I worked on these competencies to overcome hesitancy. Speaking up by itself is not a goal, but relatively speaking with influence and impact is an ultimate goal.

Now, as Business Operations Head, I see my duty to support a proper environment that will help expand this speak-up culture. The Ukraine and the CIS Cluster covers many countries. To operate effectively and instill a speak-up culture with such vast geography, we must know and respect all the multicultural and diverse backgrounds within our cluster.

Growth mindset
Speaking about the “Manager vs. Leader” concept leads to the “Fixed vs. Growth” mindset philosophy.

From my view, the critical differentiator between these mindsets is having an attitude to observe and solve the problem. A fixed mindset leads to getting stuck in old traditional ways – “this is how we’ve always done it” while a growth mindset embraces challenges and is welcome to try a different approach.

Last year, the pandemic dramatically forced most of us to evolve from a fixed to a growth mindset. The new reality is pushing us to become leaders with an open attitude to continue on a successful career path and keep enjoying our work-life balance.

Ask and give feedback
We’re focused on providing meaningful opportunities for colleagues to evolve and grow, both professionally and personally. We want each colleague to be inspired to contribute, empowered to be productive, supported to pursue lifelong learning, and provided with the opportunity and resources to realize their greater purpose.

To make this possible, we need to make it easy for our people to understand our goals, live our values and actively contribute to their own success, as well as Takeda’s. We use our “Quality Conversations” framework to empower managers and teams to communicate clearly and frequently to build trust, deliver impact and move our business forward. We also prepare high-potential individuals for new opportunities so that we’re constantly improving our bench strength of leaders and experts.

From the first day of my new role in Business Operations, my focus was set on creating the same safe and open environment for my new team. After several months, we work together and see each other remotely, but I can highly recognize the level of trust and safety felt across our department.

In my mind, the outstanding share of my success belongs to hard work with received feedback. It is hard for me because it is not always a pleasure to get so-called “developmental” feedback, initially perceived by the brain as “negative” and requires some effort to surpress the ego and find beneficial recommendations for improvement. Before Takeda, I used several 360 surveys to understand the direction of my development. At Takeda, such surveys provide professional coach-expert follow-up, which is excellent. But I was lucky to get more critical insights from my direct leaders. I’m very grateful to each of them starting from my first day at Takeda.

Care about your people
I follow one of the great experts in leadership, Simon Sinek, and I like one of his great recommendations – “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge”. It means that an essential part of my job is to care about the people who do the job.

We strive to create a work experience that keeps our people engaged and a culture that encourages a mindset of lifelong learning and growth. As a biopharmaceutical leader, innovation is our path forward, and our people are the drivers of that innovation. Our industry, providers, and patients are counting on our dedication to constant innovation and technological advancements. COVID-19 has only accelerated the speed of change and urgency for continuous improvement and innovation. Our commitment to lifelong learning is critical to supporting colleagues in making that a reality. As a truly global organization, we must pay attention to what colleagues need in each place where we operate.

Consistent and regular communications have been vital to keeping our colleagues informed and engaged during these unprecedented times. We’ve held regular virtual town halls, enabling colleagues to ask direct questions and voice concerns. This commitment to constant dialogue is one of the reasons we’ve been able to deliver on our promises, to patients and each other.

Looking after our colleagues’ health, safety, and well-being and the communities where we work, live, and serve is vital to us. From cancer awareness workshops to mindfulness education and regular lunch-and-learns on nutrition, exercise, and mental health, we make sure our people have the resources they need to lead healthy lives.

Above, I shared only a few behavior and attitudes I’m working on to improve and I know that I’m still a beginner on the path of becoming a leader. I’m also lucky to be surrounded by other leaders from whom I can learn from and seek support and help when needed. It is so easy and natural, thanks to the environment and corporate culture created by Takeda.

About the author

Galym Dauletbakov

Galym Dauletbakov

Takeda, Business Operations Head UCC

Galym Dauletbakov is the Business Operations Head at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in the UCC (Ukraine and CIS Cluster).

Experienced leader with over 20 years demonstrated professional history of working, including 12 years in the pharmaceutical industry. He is skilled in Operational and Financial management. Strong professional with Ph.D. and Executive MBA focused in Business/Managerial Economics.

Currently, Galym at Takeda focuses on business intelligence, commercial excellence, launch excellence, communication, and strategic projects.

In addition, Galym is an honored guest lecturer at top universities in Kazakhstan and enjoys sharing his experiences and expertise with the younger generation to make their career path to lead effectively.

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