Nargiza Zhakypova is a graduate of 2014 of the MA Programme in Economic Governance and Development from Kyrgyzstan. This year Nargiza received the Alumna of the Year 2019 Award for her professional development and achivements after the graduation from the OSCE Academy. Due to her passion, hard work and versatile personality, there is no doubt that Nargiza would succeed at any sphere and anything what she does. Today, Nargiza is one of the founders of the IT-RUN – network of schools providing education in IT to adults as well as children in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and the USA.
Q: Dear Nargiza, what is IT-Run?
IT-RUN – is the biggest IT Academy in Kyrgyzstan with branches in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia (in US to be launched on November, 2019).
We also have launched online courses Digital-nomad.online. Since we opened the first offline branch, a lot of people from various regions of Kyrgyzstan and other countries wrote us asking when we will open our branches in their places. Unfortunately, now it is impossible to open branches in all regions of Kyrgyzstan due to the absence of qualified teachers there. That is why we decided to launch the online courses on Front-End Web Development course. Also the share of online courses is growing every year.- It gives a lot of advantages like saving time of travel, accessing the courses from any place - all you need is a computer with Internet. Another great plus is that now people with disadvantages can also study IT.
Q: Why IT sphere? How did you come up with this idea?
In 2017 me and my husband lived in Berlin, Germany. In Europe we understood that the IT area is developing very rapidly worldwide, but Kyrgyzstan was lagging behind this trend.
We started studying Java/Web/Mobile yearly program in Tel-Ran IT Academy, an international top IT academy which is operating for more than 20 years. Studying IT was very interesting and surprisingly easy compared to my expectations. Before graduating the academy I started working in the Localization Team of Google products. After graduating we decided to return to Kyrgyzstan and opened first branch of IT-RUN in Bishkek in August 2018.
The development of the IT sector currently plays a great role in the development of the country's economy. Those countries with shortage in natural resources and other economic advantages should develop the IT area. The only resource needed for this is human resources. Ukraine, for example, became now the biggest exporter of IT products in Europe. They have 185 000 developers and 4000 IT companies. According to UNIT.City, The Ukrainian export of IT services will equa $5.4 billion in 2020 and reach $8.4 billion in 2025. 20% of world IT giants have branches in Ukraine: Microsoft, Samsung, Huawei, etc. Ukrainian startups and companies signed 44 deals and attracted 265 mln. USD in 2017 which was the record in the world IT sector. Other countries which could be a role model are Belarus and Israel.
Q: Who supports you in this uneasy task?
My main supporter and partner is my husband Narbaev Almanbet. I met him in the hardest period of my life, when I lost my dearest Mom from cancer. He helped me to return to normal life. We support each other in every aspects of our lives. We started together IT-RUN and a few other projects, IT-RUN is the most successful project. A lot of people keep asking whether it is hard to work together being a family. Of course, there are situations related to work when we do not agree with each other, but mostly our responsibilities are divided. I am responsible for systemizing and controlling the whole process, while Almanbet is responsible for scaling and building new partnerships. People say we complement each other, he is active and communicative, while I am a systematic and more of an academic person.
I dream to travel five new countries every year, since wish to travel all over the world. Per 5 countries a year I will be able to visit all 200 countries within 40 years. When we were dating with my husband, I told about this dream and he promised to do his best to realize it. Now we have not only met this goal as during the last three years we visited more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia and USA together. We are together almost 24/7, fly to business trips and leisure travels together almost each time. I am grateful to God for such an amazing husband like Almanbet.
Our biggest goal for five years is to train 100 000 qualified IT programmers and make an impact in the development of the IT sector in the region. I think one of the main secrets of successful couples and partners is to have the same goals and realize them together.
Q: Your branches are now open in four countries. How do you manage to run it all?
Currently we have more than 30 team members: teachers; sales, quality, office, Call-center, HR managers; finance department staff, marketing department with designers, SMMs, copywriters, video/photographers; directors, etc. and we keep growing every month. Our team is relatively young, the oldest team member is 28 and each of them are different. We provide the opportunity to each of them to grow professionally.. We have team members who helped to build IT-RUN from the very beginning, showed their passion to the company and now become our partners. We have colleagues, staff members have got married, have children and get back to us - we preserve their place since we value like-minded people and because we understand the importance of family.
With a growing team we introduced mechanisms that help us work efficiently. Now we have SCRUM master who holds everyday morning stand-ups and every task is controlled in Trello. Also we have introduced CRM and 1C systems, which help to see every process in every branch online. With help of overseas top Audit company we have checked all the costs and optimized few lines. It is amazing how IT simplifies our lives.
As for the founders it was hard for us to delegate tasks, but there are a lot of things our team members can do better than us. I am proud of our team.
Q: What personal and pro-fessional qualities and skills helped you to achieve what you have now?
Education is the main thing that has changed my life tremendously. I grew up in Chet-Nura village, the Naryn region of Kyrgyzstan. This is a small village with up to 100 families living. I couldn’t even speak Russian. For us it was a holiday when Mom took us to Naryn city. When I was in Bishkek for the first time, it was the happiest day in my life, the city seemed to be so big and amazing.
Mom always told me that if I want to realize my dreams, I need to study well. She worked as a teacher in the village school for about 30 years, and being a pensioner she moved to Bishkek wishing to give better education to me and my sister. I understood how hard it was for her and thrived to justify her efforts. I graduated from high school with honors and became top 5 in the school. We didn’t have money to pay my English courses, but I learned it by myself in the library. I applied to AUCA, but education cost was too high for my family. Fortunately, I became a finalist of US-CAEF program and they covered my tuition. After AUCA I applied to OSCE Academy to earn a Master’s Degree and was accepted. The Academy covered my tuition and helped financially with stipend.
I am thankful to the OSCE Academy for providing qualified education for students like me, who have a passion to study, but otherwise won’t be able to pay for it. Every knowledge the Academy gave me, every course helps me every day to do research, make presentations, write reports, run the business processes. I am so grateful to OSCE Academy for the continuous support even after graduation. After my academic journey I am who I am now. Now I feel a big responsibility in front of those people who believed in me and presented such a great opportunity to get education. Education is able to change lives and I believe that development of the country depends of the education of the nation. I put my goal to give access to education to thousands of people and I am happy to work in the education sector.
Q: What are your plans for 2020?
2019 was a very productive year for us. In April 2019 we founded the IT-RUN Kids branch in Bishkek. In July 2019 we became member of Osh Techno Park and founded IT Park Educational Academy in Osh. In August 2019 we founded IT Academies in Karakol, Moscow and Almaty. In October 2019 we launched the Digital-nomad.online project. On November 2 we will have technical opening of IT-RUN Kids second branch in Bishkek. Till the end of the year we are aimed to open our branch in USA.
In 2020 we plan to open more than 100 franchisee branches of IT-RUN Kids in Kyrgyzstan and abroad. Currently we are at finishing stage of packaging the franchise. Main focus will be put in development of Digital-nomad.online Academy, since we see a great potential of it.
We are in the 8th month of pregnancy now, that is why we are not putting too many plans forward for the new year. Though we know that having a baby is not going to be the easiest project in our life, but we are very happy and ready to the new stage of our life. Though lots of parents say that children give more motivation and energy to move forward. Let’s see :)