C-Suite lessons to learn from Ukrainian IT in crises

Vladimir Polo, CEO and founder of AcademyOcean, a platform for corporate training, breaks down the results of a survey the company conducted of 160 Ukrainian IT companies.
C-Suite lessons to learn from Ukrainian IT in crises

At first glance, the only thing the Ukrainian business has been doing for a year is trying to survive. At the same time, AcademyOcean, a platform for corporate training, interviewed 160 Ukrainian IT companies, and the results showed the opposite. Ukrainian firms opened new offices, created new products, and hired more people during the crises. They started investing in cybersecurity and employee well-being. Moreover, women started leading firms in the most difficult times for their companies. Back on February 24, all this seemed fantastic.

Here are three lessons that C-suite can learn to survive during a crisis.

Lesson 1: Globalise business

Laying off is not a solution to the problem. Hard times are a good background for new beginnings and experiments. It’s better to follow the Ukrainian example, search for new markets, and hire new people. 

With the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ukrainian companies began moving thousands of employees abroad to make a safe workplace and find new markets to save the business. AcademyOcean research shows that 20.3% of companies relocated their employees, and 3.7% plan to do so in 2023. Additionally, 60.8% of respondent companies have C-level management among the employees who went abroad. 

According to the Lviv IT cluster, 57,000 specialists left Ukraine in the spring. Along with the relocation of employees, opening new offices was needed to speed up localisation. Another survey from DOU, a platform for hiring IT specialists, shows the top 50 largest IT companies have opened more than 30 offices abroad. Poland, Germany, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria are listed among the most popular countries. Also, Ukrainian companies opened offices in Latin America, The USA, and Canada.  

To make localization less painful Ukrainian businesses started hiring in different countries. 

Also, the Ukrainian industry has undergone staffing changes. And despite the fact that the IT industry is at the vanguard of the most well-paid in Ukraine, many specialists put down laptops and took up arms to defend the country. Lviv IT Cluster data show that 7,000 Ukrainian IT specialists are serving in the army. AcademyOcean survey shows 30% of companies reported having C-level management among employees who joined the military.

Lesson 2: Invest in employees' well-being and cyber security

Invest the money in what can save the company from devastation, such as cyber security and employees' well-being. 

Frequent DDoS attacks on business infrastructure by Russia resulted in massive investment in cyber security and new technological solutions. The business realized its vulnerability, and as a result, 26.6 percent of survey companies started investing in cybersecurity after the 24th of February. And 38.6 percent of companies increased investments in new technological solutions.

The best thing you can do during crises for the company is to support people. At least provide them with communication channels, hire a corporate psychologist, or find a local mental health support program to help employees feel happier. 

Employees` mental health directly affects a company’s skit. As the survey shows, 94.9 percent of companies agree that the mental state of employees affects the company's results.

The real trend among Ukrainian businesses has become investments in employees' mental health. 52 percent of answers claimed that full-scale war caused a rise in awareness and action toward investments in psychological help for employees.

At the same time, AcademyOcean survey shows — millennials are among the most vulnerable age groups to recent events in the county. 

Also, the survey shows that women are the best leaders during a crisis. They are more loyal to introducing a flexible work schedule, giving more time to make decisions, and increasing bonuses and salaries. 

In the domestic market of Ukraine, women are getting promoted and running companies in the most challenging times for the country. According to the data collected by the AcademyOcean team, women were promoted in 50.6% of responded companies, and in 11.4% of companies — women received C-level positions.


Lesson 3: Be adaptive and inventive

Don't wait for the crisis to end soon. Start adapting as quickly as possible, and focus on results. If the results are achieved, you must invent something new — act immediately.

When the IT industry adapted to constant sirens, working from shelters — Russia invented a new terror. So, at the start of 2023, Ukrainian companies are learning to work during blackouts. As statistics show, they are doing it well. 

Despite the power outage, 40.6 percent of employees closed the tasks by the set deadlines, and 81.3 percent of surveyed companies' employees continued to work. One may wonder how it is all possible without electricity, but the answer is on the surface — businesses and their employees become autonomous. 

Survey shows that 96.9 percent of companies  — have generators in the offices; 78.1 percent — have water reserves; 75 percent — have Starlinks/Internet solutions that can work without electricity for several days; 59.4 percent — have heaters; 40.6 percent — have autonomous heating. Employees who work from home buy Starlinks, EcoFlows or analogs, water reserves, and different internet solutions and can work 24 hours without a centralized power supply. 

While the rest of the world is strangling: inflation, recessions, massive lay off, and preparing for the hard times — Ukrainians have learned how to adapt. 

"The first to break were those who believed everything would end soon. After — those who did not believe that it would ever end. The ones who survived were those who focused on their actions, without expectations about what might or might not happen." Viktor Frankl

Vladimir Polo, the CEO, and founder of AcademyOcean, a platform for corporate training for 300,000 users in 30 countries. Vladimir has 15 years of experience developing corporate culture and employee training. Vladimir Polo can be reached on Facebook | Medium | LinkedIn | Twitter

This article is part of's highlighting of remarkable Ukrainian startups on the one-year anniversary of the Russo-Ukrainian War. Read more ...

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