Alumni Spotlight: Kuanysh Yergaliyev, DrPH ’19


Kuanysh Yergaliyev
Kuanysh Yergaliyev, DrPH ’19

With 85 graduates since its inception in 2014, the DrPH Program has developed an illustrious, talented group of public health professionals who have taken their DrPH degree and have become public health leaders.

We recently reached out to Kuanysh Yergaliyev, DrPH ’19, to find out where his public health career has taken him and the current work he is doing!

  • Where are you currently located?

Kuanysh: Nur-Sultan city, the capital of Kazakhstan

  • Where are you currently working and a brief description of your job?

Kuanysh: I recently was appointed as Vice-minister at the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, which is a political appointment. Before I tell more about current responsibilities, I’d like to explain how I ended up in this position. Right after graduation from HSPH in a summer of 2019, I received a job offer to be a Rector (Chancellor) at one the leading private universities in Kazakhstan, the Suleyman Demirel University. I worked for two years in an academic setting, overseeing teaching and research at the university. Therefore, in my current role, I am responsible for development of higher education and science policies in Kazakhstan. I also coordinate administration and funding of public universities and research institutions.       

  • The 4 pillars of the DrPH Program are leadership, management, communication, and innovative thinking. Which of the pillars (if any) do you use most in your new position and how did the program prepare you for it?

Kuanysh: In my current position I use knowledge and skills mainly from three of 4 pillars of the DrPH Program which are leadership, management and communication. Although in my previous position at the university, innovative thinking was one the most important skills I have relied on. Together with the research skills, the DrPH Program had a substantial managerial and leadership component led by Michael McCormack and Fawn Phelps. Moreover, I had an opportunity for cross-registration across the Harvard. I took several courses from Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Graduate School of Education that prepared me to work in education and public administration fields. For instance, during the Leadership in Public Health: Personal Mastery course and later during Public Health Leadership concentration, I came to a better understanding of my personal leadership style, strengths, preferences, growth edges, blind spots and limitations, and most important, I made a decision on the kind of leader I want to be in a future. Studying in the DrPH Program was really a transformative experience for me.      

  • If you could do things all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? Why? What would you change?

Kuanysh: I think I would choose the same path because the DrPH Program prepared me to be an effective bridge between research, practice, and policy. The lessons I have learned through the program are still relevant to me after graduation in my current position which is all about serving and being helpful for the people I care for: the people in my community.    

  • If you are in a management position, what would you look for if you were hiring new graduates from the DrPH Program?

Kuanysh: From my experience, people in a managerial position must have high emotional intelligence. Therefore, I would look for individuals with skills like communication, problem-solving, motivation and conflict management. It is crucial to be able to manage stress and anger, and master mindfulness and relaxation. 

  • Is there any work/document/article that you are currently working on that you’d like to promote? Our current students would love to find out what our alumni are currently working on. 

Kuanysh: It took me one year after graduation to publish my article on policy change initiative that was based on materials from my DELTA Project (now known as Doctoral Project) at STRIPED, a Harvard Public Health Incubator. Currently, I am working on a paper where we looked at social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention measures in a university setting in Kazakhstan. Specifically, we were interested in why faculty members and students are most likely would not comply with such measures on university campus and what university administration could do.

While I was at the university, I launched the SDU Center for Health, Policy and Management ( The global pandemic of coronavirus has changed the way we work, communicate and interact with each other. Leaders and politicians around the world have begun to realize the importance of public health and its impact on all aspects of our society including business, economy, education, tourism, etc. Therefore, the goal of opening a center was to meet the need in knowledge and expertise of decision-makers, managers and scholars of the Kazakhstani health sector through teaching, research and consulting services designed for strengthening and promoting innovation and technology in public health and healthcare delivery of Kazakhstan.

If you would like to connect with Kuanysh Yergaliyev, please visit his LinkedIn profile here.