Member's Success stories

Steve Potter, Senior Advisor of Taskonir Trading

How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

I have always been interested in different cultures and countries and that’s what encouraged me to leave my home in the UK and seek out opportunities overseas. So far, I have lived and worked in 14 countries on three continents. My children have always encouraged me to take on new adventures and challenges even though it has meant being an absentee father for much of their lives.

What are the principles you mostly adhere to in the business? 

I developed a set of five business principles many years ago which I still review from time to time but very little has changed over time. I call them the Power of Five:

PEOPLE: As a leader, people are your most valuable asset and you must always work to ensure their safety, development, welfare & well-being.

PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT: As a leader, you must always strive to be ethical and transparent in the way you deal with others.

PROCESS:  You should always conduct your business in a logical and disciplined manner using “best in class” processes and procedures that are fact-based and measurable

PERFORMANCE MEASURES. Results count and these results are measured by others, not you.

PROFIT: A private enterprise needs to be profitable so we must focus on the things that create a positive bottom line not on the bottom line itself.

To achieve the above results, one needs two things: Skill & Passion. The analogy I like to use is that of an orchestral conductor. You surround yourself with the best musicians you can find and then get them to perform together as a team/orchestra.

What was the shortcoming that was the most challenging for you in the business?

I’m not sure that it was exactly a shortcoming but the most challenging event was managing through sever economic downturns. It has happened 3 times in my career on different continents, but having to make people redundant because of events outside their control is more than challenging - it is heart-wrenching.

After all this success, what do you struggle with now?

I don’t like contracts, they are win-lose, not win-win documents, take up hours of time and most of the time are not worth the paper they are written on. If a business relationship is going to be successful, it requires trust and teamwork not a contract

What is the latest business achievement you would like to highlight right now?

The latest business achievement for me was being elected Chairman of AmCham Mongolia and helping my wife Ari set up her new business.

Esentsengel Sukhee, Deputy CEO of MCS Holding

How did you get where you are today, and who or what helped you along the way?

After completing my studies in Germany in the field of business administration, I started to work at the PwC Germany office in Stuttgart. While being involved in many international projects and assignments, I always wanted to realize projects in my home country, Mongolia. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to work on several significant projects in Mongolia’s finance and mining sectors. Shortly after completing said projects, I returned to Mongolia to establish the PwC office in UB, which was a great success. After 7 years of successful work at PwC, I was invited to work at the headquarters of MCS Group, -one of the biggest privately-owned business conglomerates in Mongolia. It was a big change, but the shift from a consultant’s role to a management position has been very interesting. Working closely with the shareholders and being part of such a successful management team is truly a unique experience – one that is not easily found.

What are the principles you mostly adhere to in business?

Integrity and establishing good relationships are key to being successful in business. Also, social intelligence and having the ability to understand your partners and their circumstances are vital for success.

What was a shortcoming that was the most challenging for you in business?

I don’t have to think long: political instability and a constantly changing legal environment are the most challenging, and negatively affect existing business performance and incoming foreign investment flow. A personally challenging experience was leaving my previous company that I built from the ground up, including employees and clients.

After all this success, what do you struggle with now?

Political instability and inconsistent government policies are now the biggest struggle for everyone doing business in Mongolia.

What is the latest business achievement you would like to highlight right now?

Working in the group's headquarters requires us to be able to oversee many different industries and consistently challenging business models. Our group's companies are recognized as the best performing businesses in Mongolia. At the moment, I'm working on developing several projects within the group, where I’m targeting a particular undeveloped business sector that I believe has a great and consistent future in Mongolia. I'm not there yet, but hopefully, this will be my biggest and latest success.  

Erik Versavel, Country Representative for ING Bank Mongolia

How did you get where you are today, and who or what helped you along the way?

I do not see a career as a permanent climbing of a ladder. I think a professional career is only part of your personality. I have always taken up challenges and responsibilities which few others wanted to take. That’s how I ended up living in many different and often challenging countries. My wife and children have helped me. We have always made our decisions together and do not regret anything.

What are the principles you adhere to in business?

Challenging countries often have a difficult relationship with integrity. For an international manager, especially in the financial services sector, integrity is critical. It means you have to be able to keep a straight back and say no to what seems like a good deal. The second principle is that you should always train, develop and help your employees. On a recent trip to our Head Office in Amsterdam I was stunned to find there were 15 Ukrainian employees working in Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Singapore – all of them encouraged and supported by me during my 5 years as CEO of our bank in Ukraine. Their lives had changed and all of them were grateful.

What shortcoming has been the most challenging for you in business?

I am not a musical person, and I have difficulty recognizing tones and intonations. That’s why I had great difficulties studying Mandarin Chinese, and why I experience so much trouble trying to understand or speak Mongolian. I had less difficulty with Indonesian and Russian. Have I addressed your question properly?

After all of this success, what do you struggle with now?

It is not a personal struggle. It is an honest and intellectual intrigue to observe  that countries with extraordinary natural resources struggle terribly to build a properly functioning economy and society. Mongolia could be one of the richest countries in the world. I am not saying Mongolia has a duty to become rich. But I do think countries have a duty to at least try and create economies and societies which are inclusive and provide opportunities for all. I do not see that happening.

What is the most recent business achievement you would like to highlight right now?

ING Bank is the longest serving foreign bank in Mongolia and has an unparalleled track record in the market. I arrived in September 2016 when the self inflicted downturn, economic recession and financial challenges had just started. 18 months later the situation has stabilized but remains very challenging. ING is still here and remains committed to the country.

Munkhnasan Narmandakh, Chairwoman at Monpolymet Group

How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

I spent my adolescence years trying to help my mother form our family business in the midst of Mongolia’s change from communism to free market economy. My mother was a geological engineer and with a handful of other geologists she formed a small startup company and explored alluvial mining deposits. Education was important for me, so I went to the USA as an exchange student when I was 15 and finished high school, college and grad schools there. The American family I stayed with helped me tremendously in those years for shaping my life. I then came back to Mongolia to work at the Central Bank as an economist after college. After finishing my master’s degree at the George Washington University, I got accepted to work at the World Bank in Washington DC. With great passion I also wanted to learn how to help alleviate my country’s poverty and this was a great place to gain experience working as an economist in its Poverty Reduction department. However, I realized that I can have more direct impact on poverty through business, so I rejoined the family business and started working on new projects that can have impact on the country’s economic diversification, create hundreds and thousands of jobs, and introduce modern technological innovations. A brave decision was made for building the country’s biggest cement plant, which utilizes modern technological innovations including a waste-heat-recovery system that produces electricity from waste hot gas from the plant, water treatment system that recycles 90% of household and industrial waste waters, 4-5 times less water usage than that of wet method, and twice as less fuel consumption. The plants created over 700 new jobs with a prominent role in regional infrastructure development. For nearby communities we built railway stations, water wells, installed fiber optic cables, removed trash that had accumulated for years thus spreading contagious dise89ase and as per our core mission we focused on environmental rehabilitation.

What are the principles you mostly adhere to in the business?

I learnt that kindness is not the worst principle in business. Being kind to the environment, to the community, to the employees can help shape great corporations with sustainable future. Of course, businesses face challenges every day but I look at them as opportunities for better change rather than problems. I focus on being responsible, accountable and always at the top of your efficiency from myself and as well as my teams. I believe that businesses fail when the management think they’re successful therefore, being agile is important especially in these day and age.

What was the shortcoming that was the most challenging for you in the business?

As a very small, land locked emerging market economy, businesses struggle with scaling up. The geopolitical tensions and underdeveloped infrastructure are slowing down our effort to increase exports. Finding project financing for private sector large scale projects has been challenging given the low country rating due to economic and political instability.

After all this success, what do you struggle with now?

The stability and attractiveness of Mongolia’s business and legal environment, which remains as obstacle, is crucial for our ability to attract foreign investment and strategic companies with know-how. Government of Mongolia has been introducing laws to promote direct investment and tax incentives with mixed results such as Foreign Investment Law passed in 2012 and Investment law passed in 2013. However, investors and companies are still cannot take advantage of such tax incentives due to inconsistencies of investment laws with general taxation laws. The average length of Mongolian governments since 90’ is less than two years, thus policy decisions lack longevity unfortunately at private sectors’ loss.

What is the latest business achievement you would like to highlight right now?

With Moncement project we achieved our goal in building Mongolia’s first Waste Heat Recovery System for power generation. This and with numerous other environmental and operational stewardships, Moncement was awarded the Sustainability Award for Best Social and Environmental practice by EBRD – the first time from Mongolia chosen from 200 projects worldwide.

 

Munkhbat Chuluun, President and Executive Director of SouthGobi Sands LLC

AmCham is pleased to feature an interview with Mr. Ch. Munkhbat, President and Executive Director of SouthGobi Sands LLC

How did you get where you are today, and who or what helped you along the way?

I have taken on over 27 years of senior roles in different organizations: a Japanese NGO, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, international publicly listed companies, and state organizations in Mongolia.  Managing operations in different fields and jurisdictions, I have gained wonderful management experience, and knowledge about working people and financial issues.  I trained a micro credit program in Bangladesh by Grameen Bank and got great experience in fieldwork. Managing a public company is very challenging work. Companies should be open, transparent, and accountable, as well uphold the integrity of its shareholders.

What are the principles you adhere to in business?

I believe that responsibility, respect, teamwork, and integrity are the most important principles. Also, accountability, being honest, commitment, and contributing to the company's sustainable development.

What shortcoming has been the most challenging for you in business?

Bureaucracy, a lack of professionally trained central and local government staff, a lack of stability and professionalism; trying to reduce the lists of official permissions.

After all of this success, what do you struggle with now?

For the coal business, I think the most important thing is change in the old methods of management, and to change the government and the public's perceptions of the coal industry.  It is important to have a greater level of transparency, to have high integrity and ethical standards. It is still quite hard to do distinguish between private and public companies.

What is the most recent business achievement you would like to highlight right now?

Mongolian youth can fulfill international standards for technique and management. We provide our employees, who can manage and repair high-quality heavy machinery, with these skills. Our company has exported 4.5 million tons of coal to China. We were recognized by the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mining Magazine as the best company in Mongolia in 2017.

 

Oybek Khalilov, CEO at Tenger Insurance and AmCham Vice Chairman

This time AmCham is pleased to host Mr. Oybek Khalilov, CEO at Tenger Insurance and AmCham Vice Chairman, to tell us a little bit more about his life principles and share the secretes of his business success. 


How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?

Knowledge comes with experience: for over 20 years I have taken senior roles in the world’s leading insurance organization - American International Group, Inc. Managing AIG operations in a different countries and jurisdictions I have gained invaluable professional experience and an in-depth knowledge of property, casualty, and financial insurance products.  In 1995 joined American International Group as CEO of political risk insurance JV and spent four years at AIG in London. And later, I was in charge of AIG general insurance operations in Central Asia and Caucasus from 2000 to 2015. I’ve learned a lot from both peers in the AIG as well as from leading players and regulators of local insurance markets.

What are the principles you mostly adhere to in the business?

I believe professionalism and integrity are the most important principles. Professionalism, being versatile and skilled in all business areas, effective networking and communication, leading by example is essential. I highly appreciate integrity and always trying to share good governance practice and high ethical standards to affect those around me positively.

What was the shortcoming that was the most challenging for you in the business?

Lack of relevant market intelligence, ambiguous legal and regulatory environment, changes in political environment, lack of professionally trained local staff: in the insurance industry key local staff have been working for many years in banking industry but do not have adequate insurance professional training and always at a loss when dealing with unexpected issues and resilient to changes. As my personal goal I will probably say establishing benchmark insurance operation and become an Employer of the choice in the local financial market, so it is more about our talent, to leave best professional team behind me when I leave the country.

After all this success, what do you struggle with now?

For insurance business I think the most important is improvements in insurance culture, so once people will get used to buy insurance and not only compulsory insurance. And as for general business environment I think it is important to have a greater level of transparency, to have high integrity and ethical standards, it is still quite hard to do civilized business in the current environment.

What is the latest business achievement you would like to highlight right now?

Tenger Insurance is still considered the Best insurance company in Mongolia by many, especially due to our best in class risk management practices, reinsurance reliability and claims efficiency proven by a large-scale fire loss recovery of Gobi Cashmere factory paid within 3 days.  Continued low loss ratio and low acquisition cost resulted in improved combined ratio of 92.3%, making Tenger Insurance the most profitable insurer in 2017.   Forecasted growth in retail segment due to online sales platform and tailored product development would differentiate Tenger Insurance on the local market in the upcoming year. We are glad to be recognized by the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the International Finance Magazine as the Best Insurer in Mongolia in 2017.

Contact AmCham Mongolia
Address: 8F, Naiman Zovkhis ("Eznis") Building 21 Seoul Street
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Phone: (976) 70003437
Email: info@amcham.mn

© 2018 American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia