We talk to many startups here at Tech.eu, but I wanted to learn what the experience was like in a large corporate enterprise during the Russian invasion.
Sigma Software was founded in 2002 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. In 2006 it joined Sigma AB, a Scandinavian ІТ consulting company, and now offers IT services and over 25+ portfolio products across the tech ecosystem.
I spoke to Alexandra Govorukha, Head of Global Affairs at Sigma Software, to learn about the company's experience over the last year. And I found a company that's not only functioning but growing.
Juggling expansion and relocation in a time of war
Sigma Software has a team of around 2000 people.
It opened 17 new offices within the last year and relocated most people from East to the West of Ukraine and around 200 people abroad. What helped was a regularly updated business continuity plan since Russia
first occupied the territories of Ukraine and Crimea in 2014.
"But of course, no one believed the full-scale invasion would be possible in the 21st century."
The company had prepared two different scenarios, which helped.
It relocated 2800 people, including families and pets, mostly by buses, but some people had cars, and they moved by their own transport. "And we became fully operational again in just two weeks."
The company also offered financial and logistical support helping team members stay together and have a safe place to live and work. This included starting a series of meetups for tech communities where Sigma Software had opened new offices "to help our employees to mix with new people in these countries."
Sigma Software has a strong HR and employee experience presence with a team of around 50 people who care about our culture and internal communication".
But Govorukha shared that in terms of mental toughness, "we were not ready at all. We launched therapeutic groups and offered psychological support for all employees."
Sigma's management also launched weekly good news emails to employees.
According to Govorukha this was "a way to feel stable and to manage such situations. And it motivates people a lot to feel the company really care about its people."
The next challenge was temporary interruptions of work and connectivity. During the first 2 weeks, some people worked from bomb shelters or from cars, driving their families to the border or to the western part of Ukraine.
Govorukha shared that:
"most of us never stopped working, even during the first weeks of the full invasion of Russia of Ukraine. It helped us to stay sane in this situation; at least something was stable. And it’s just a core of Sigma Software culture - to be reliable, our job had to be done. And that helped us to stay resilient."
The importance of transparency
Transparency during a time of uncertainty is crucial. Govorukha shared that the company was determined to "communicate everything possible regarding the company and the country transparently."
Top management stayed online during the first few weeks of the war almost 24/7, keeping employees and clients updated with news. It also hosted specific monthly all-hands meetings where they could share information gained from people in government.
Being part of the solution
Around 20 male and female employees joined the army, with the company keeping their salary.
Like all Ukrainians I've interviewed, employees also took on a second shift as volunteers, joining military tech projects, cybersecurity teams, and the Ukraine PR Army. Others joined the Territorial Defence Forces.
The company also organised the Hack for peace hackathon and launched a project for displaced women, among other initiatives.
Together with partners and clients, it also created a fund that collected $3.8 million to support Ukraine and Ukrainians."
And besides all this, the company grew by 37% over the last year in terms of revenue and became one of the top three best IT employers in Ukraine. All of this matters as it shows that the company could maintain the trust of employees and clients.
This article is part of Tech.eu's highlighting of remarkable Ukrainian startups on the one-year anniversary of the Russo-Ukrainian War. Read more ...