English courses at Dinal
46. Chapter 4: The employees
An ongoing commitment to staff training and
development is at the heart of Heineken's
international employment policy. At Heineken's
Dinal brewery in the central Asian Republic of
Kazakhstan, an initiative aimed at improving
internal Group communications by building local
English-language skills is adding long-term value
to the company and its employees.
The Dinal brewery is located in the southern city
of Almaty - Kazakhstan's second largest city, which
is at the foot of the majestic Tian Shan mountains
near the Chinese border. The brewery employs 270
workers who produce and distribute some 240,000
hectolitres of Amstel, Heineken and various
national brands for the local market each year.
Elnara Ossipova was appointed HR Manager at
Dinal in December 2004 to establish the company's
first-ever Human Resources department. Ossipova
fully expected to face some big challenges as she
set out to build the function from the ground up,
but never imagined language would be one
"Kazakh is the official state language of Kazakhstan,
while Russian is the official language of business,"
she explains. "I spent ever so many hours every
week translating all our group documents from
English - everything from e-mails to brochures.
It was so inefficient and also a cultural barrier
between our operations here in Kazakhstan and
the rest of the Heineken Group."
The arrival of the General Manager Joost van Roon
and the Chief Financial Officer Joy Gundran some
months before had already set the tone for change.
While they had started learning Russian upon
their arrival, they felt strongly that as part of
an international company, their subordinates
should have a basic command of English. From
2003, English tutors were brought to the brewery
to teach a group of 15 employees two hours
of English each week.
Today almost 40 employees have signed up for
the course that is divided into two basic levels:
elementary and intermediate. Beginner students
are taught basic grammar and pronunciation while
more advanced students are offered a focus on
business English to help them operate more
effectively in a multinational corporate environment.
"We've had a tremendous response and a lot of
enthusiasm from everyone because people feel
supported in their work and these courses are
expensive to do outside the company," says
Ossipova. "There is also a long-term financial
incentive; in Kazakhstan a chief accountant on the
job market who knows English, for example, can
find a job in an international company with better
"What started out as a practical decision to bring
Dinal closer to the Heineken Group has added
tremendous value to being a Heineken employee
in Kazakhstan," says Ossipova. Heineken's local
reputation as an employer that offers competitive
wages, good benefits, better chances for
promotion and greater job security has been
reinforced by the language-learning initiative,
she explains, and this may help us to attract more
talented job-seekers to Dinal.
Looking ahead, Ossipova plans to launch a 'Talking
Club' at the brewery every Friday night so
employees from all areas, as well as close friends
and family members, can meet to practice their
spoken English. "It will be a great opportunity for
our students to interact in an informal setting
because they don't always get many chances
Heineken N.V. - 2004/2005 Sustainability Report