Maxim Kostromskoy, as CEO, has developed two groups of pharmaceutical companies in Uzbekistan – MEROS and ASKLEPIYGroup. Both have won leadership in the country and moved to new development standards. Now Maxim is returning to Ukraine with new plans.
In an interview with Huxleў, Maxim Kostromskoy spoke about doing business in Uzbekistan, how to build a company filled with meaning, and why the development of each team member brings him great pleasure.
ABOUT ARRIVAL TO UZBEKISTAN
I happened to be in Uzbekistan by accident. I moved from the role of owner and CEO to the role of strategist and investor and was at a bifurcation point, thinking about what to do next.
Our plane was delayed at the Boryspil airport due to snowfall, and my colleagues from Uzbekistan and I managed to talk. I knew nothing about this country, its traditions and foundations. But we examined the main trends and features of the state on the spot. So I got the idea to transform a group of companies that will become a leader in the pharmaceutical market of Uzbekistan and Central Asia.
We started to develop a vertically integrated structure combining manufacturing, distribution and retail. A business filled with meanings is developed by people, so we made the main stake on being innovative leaders and building a corporate culture based on the laws of nature to unleash the talents and potential of employees through work, love and creativity, where everyone is healthy, successful and harmonious … And all this was laid down at the level of strategy – systems – processes.
ABOUT LIFE IN UZBEKISTAN
The first 4 months my family and I lived in Samarkand. It is the second largest city in Uzbekistan, a historical pearl of Central Asia with a thousand-year history. Tourists from all over the world come to see its grandeur and cultural attractions! But the closeness and conservatism left their mark on the development of the city.
Then we moved to Tashkent, a multinational and multi-religious capital, where local culture is combined with what people from all over the post-Soviet space have brought. All these aspects give a completely different level of intelligence and development of institutions.
Our children went to an international British school, where Uzbeks, Russians, Germans, Americans, Brazilians, Chinese, Japanese study. The school taught them to feel and love representatives of different cultures.
In addition, many people from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Kazakhstan and other countries work in the capital. Thanks to this, our family easily adapted to Tashkent.
ON THE OPENING OF THE COUNTRY
Until recently, Uzbekistan was a rather closed country, where the rule of force was the basis, not law. Several years ago a new president came to power – Mirziyoyev Shavkat Miromonovich. The first stage of the country’s opening took place, state reforms began, which led to an increase in investment in all spheres of the economy.
Uzbekistan has very favorable conditions in terms of investment policy and taxation. In addition, the state relies on entrepreneurs, because during the time of its closure, the country has lost many smart people – businessmen and scientists.
I am a supporter of an open and transparent market, so such principles have always been incorporated into the strategy and integrated into the business processes of companies. They set a trend to legitimize the pharmaceutical market, improve product quality and introduce international GMP and GDP standards.
ABOUT LOCAL FEATURES
Uzbekistan ranks first in terms of happiness among the CIS countries and 47th in the world. For comparison: Lithuania and Latvia are about 52–54th, Ukraine – 132nd. Thanks to Islam and family values, life’s difficulties remain beyond the threshold, and at home everything goes on as usual.
The culture of hospitality in Uzbekistan is at a very high level. Ukrainians are seen as friends. Even if you are wrong, loyalty, patience and endurance are shown to you. It even works on the road: indicate to the policeman that you are a guest, and they will make a verbal reprimand to you.
For a business in Uzbekistan, the debt collection process is very easy. Even a small company can judicially block the accounts of a large corporation. In Ukraine, such cases can drag on for years.
A trend is emerging for a healthy lifestyle, mass sports: marathon running, cycling, triathlon. Supermarkets don’t sell alcohol, and you won’t find drunks on the streets. There are entire regions where drinking is considered a shame. Therefore, people look completely different: less irritable, softer and more harmonious.
ABOUT WORKING IN QUARANTINE
Despite the fact that there were rather strict restrictions in Uzbekistan, our company only partially worked online during quarantine. Those who wanted to stay at home, could do it, but most people were in business physically and worked in the office.
We – people working in health care and taking the Hippocratic Oath, clearly understand how much attention should be paid to security measures, and how much – to the positive and fulfilling development of socio-economic relations of society.
Health is impossible without breathing and movement. In those parts of the business where people were active and minimally focused on this challenge, the incidence rate, complications, and sick leave were 60–80% below average.
ABOUT DAY AND LIFESTYLE
For 20 years there has been no separate concept of “work” for me. There is a “meaning” and there is a “process.” Development is primarily a way of life. My hobby is the transformation and development of business structures by building a corporate culture based on the laws of nature. It is a special pleasure for me to rejoice, revealing the talents of employees and creating conditions for the material and spiritual development of each person.
I wake up at 5 am and go to bed at 10 pm. Physical training takes me 3-5 hours a day because I am preparing for the full IRONMAN 140.6 distance. Sports activities always take place in the fresh air, and we lay routes through the picturesque places of Uzbekistan.
I am very inspired by the contemplation of the changing nature from sunrise to sunset. Also in my life there are theaters, creativity, travel and, of course, the family comes first – and everything is harmoniously combined.
ABOUT TEAM FORMATION
Employees, whose work is not related to mechanical processes, do not have a clearly defined schedule and working hours: there are only points of intersection of people for intelligent synthesis or administration of processes. This is not a vertical domination of roles, but a completely different level of interaction with each other.
For me, there is no such thing as a “trial period”. Already at the moment of testing according to the Thomas system and the method of circular interviews within the team, it becomes 90% clear how a person will enter a new role.
Before taking a person to a managerial position, I interview him 3-4 times. But it happens that I am ready to immediately seal the agreement with a handshake. Such situation happens when I see the highest value, humane and professional level of personality development. Having a long conversation and getting to know each other is much more correct and cheaper than putting a person into business and then losing.
ABOUT TEAM DEVELOPMENT
If the life cycles and values of a company are balanced with the life cycle and values of a particular person, then his potential is revealed in a unique way. It is a great pleasure to see this.
How to understand at what stage of the life cycle a person is? You can look at age, priorities, marital status, his strategies and plans for the next 5, 10, 15 years, at the level of goals – both in professional and personal life. If a person does not have significant goals, can he keep up with the rhythm of an ambitious company?
By understanding people’s strengths and weaknesses, it is possible to balance the team in such a way that people complement and strengthen each other. We use three approaches: the Adizes system, the Thomas system, and our internal development.
As soon as I enter the business, an in-depth analysis of absolutely all employees is carried out. It is very important that this is done openly. Then teams are created depending on the goals of a particular business unit.
For example, there should be more dominant people in sales departments who are active and service-oriented. In top management, balanced configurations so that in the process of dialogue people have different views that come into constructive contradiction.
ABOUT THE STAGES OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
I have great respect for the works of Ichac Adizes. He best described the life cycle of a company. There is a clear sequence of stages, each of which has its own dynamics. For example, now I entered a big business to transfer it to the stage of “youth”.
Before that, he was at the stage of “come on, come on” – this is when the founder keeps everything under manual control, the business grows, money is defocused and invested in different directions, and at some point this process becomes uncontrollable.
I know this for myself: I was probably in 20 roles – from a loader to a strategist. Therefore, I understand well the stages of human and business development. It is important to go through each stage and, as when raising children, to understand and feel when it is time to let them go on their own.
ABOUT TIME AND ENERGY
One of the lectures that I have in business studying management is “Time and Energy Management”. We talk about biorhythms, sports, hormonal status, nutrition, including water intake, the benefits of getting up early and going to bed early.
About meditation – as an important element in the harmonization of the personality in a world oversaturated with information. Everyone can have their own meditation techniques. For me, it’s a triathlon. And some are engaged in yoga or breathing practices. But the choice is still up to the person. We only give him knowledge and form a fashion for a healthy lifestyle.
ABOUT THE HARMONY OF VALUES AND BUSINESS PROCESSES
In business, I take a position of complete openness. The business processing methodology is developed jointly with the team. I create conditions for the development of teams so that they move on to further independent movement.
When communicating with a person or a group of people, I read the value field. For this I do not need to do long research. Then, through strategic sessions, teams write out values through which further development will take place and which will become the basis of corporate culture.
In our case, the word “honest” was obtained: a person, unity, creation, tolerance, innovation, responsibility. And all business processes are sewn through each of these values.
Today, the company has about 500 main business processes, either written down or at the stage of completion. As an example, the first value is: “Man is the harmonious development of mind, soul and body”. For each person, we have an individual development program, where his goals for improving the mind, soul and body are laid out on the shelves.
The employee enters the program into his electronic calendar, investing time in the development of each direction. In this case, the analysis of a person on the wheel of life balance is necessarily taken into account. The program is reviewed and adjusted once a year, but the dynamics and the degree of its implementation are discussed with the head during monthly personal meetings.
FOR FUTURE PLANS
In Ukraine, I am going to write a book. I set myself the task of completing it within a year. My goal is to simplify spiritual and socio-economic paradigms, which are aimed at the harmonious development of man, society and nature.
So that a person’s life leads to the disclosure of his talents and is in tune with the development of planet Earth. So that a person can continuously expand the diversity of his perception of the divinity of the world, cognizing, developing and improving himself.
I take particular pleasure in transferring knowledge and improving the quality of life for people. At this stage of development of our state, unfortunately, it is not always possible to convey meaningful things about the transformation of the social architecture of society. Therefore, today we do it through business. For example, the quality of drinking water for employees in our company was the highest in all of Uzbekistan.
I dream that the spiritual and physical health of every person would be the basis of the national development policy of Ukraine. So that the idea, strategy, integration and each process are aimed at increasing and staying energy in a person, society and planet.
But the most cherished dream is that every person on planet Earth could independently, by managing the calendar (and, therefore, time), plan / model in the long-term / medium-term / short-term periods his actions for the development and comprehension of all his spiritual and material systems and see how his actions lead to the filling / decrease of the energy of both the person himself and nature on planet Earth, how does his phenotype change (at intervals throughout the life cycle), and how it affects the genotype with the subsequent transfer of the accumulated life experience to the next generation, as in what percentage increases the unification of people with each other on our planet. All this is dynamic, in graphics and images. And so that all systems of management, enlightenment and education should be directed towards this!