Calavista Software calls upon a number of international development partners to help build our Development Group in a Box™ that is managed and run by our onshore leadership – and some of these partners are located in the Ukraine.
For fifteen years now, we’ve worked with Ukrainian partners and have found them to be thoughtful, engaged and extremely talented team members. This remained true even when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, throughout the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020 and continues to be the case as Ukraine fights against Russian forces today. Through emergencies, invasions, and war, our teams have remained impressively reliable. I spoke with a number of our internal and Ukrainian team members to get an idea of how they coped and have fared since last February.
The Beginning of the War
On February 24th, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, shaking the world. Of course, the most rattled were the citizens of Ukraine themselves, many of whom, despite Russia’s posturing, never really believed this day would come. But this does not mean that they were not prepared. Our partner companies had emergency response teams already in place that worked rapidly to take care of their own. As soon as the invasion started, they leapt into action, coordinating buses, communication lines, and escape routes to get their employees to safety.
It would be understandable for many employees to quit, to go offline, to focus on their families, survival, and the physical fight for their country, but work with our partners hardly stopped at all. Thanks to their emergency response teams and unified spirit, the companies could help evacuate their employees safely and rapidly. Fellow employees from across Ukraine opened their homes, volunteered their cars, donated their time to help coworkers they’d never met before as they migrated out of war zones to safety.
If you had to move your entire family to a new country on a moment’s notice, how long do you think it would take to get back to work? In a dire and traumatic situation, it would likely be the last thing on your mind and low on your list of priorities. We expected it may take weeks to get work back on track with these team members, or that we may have to restructure projects in order to rely on others not in an active war zone. We had no qualms with this, we could work around a delay in development while they worked around their world turned upside-down, and we were committed to doing what we could to be supportive. Likewise, we were grateful to find that our customers who were supported by Ukrainians all made it clear to us that they were willing to pay a price in productivity rather than abandon their teams. However, to our surprise, even those that had to evacuate were back online in just a few days, essentially a long weekend.
Work = Resistance
The dedication shown by our partners in this rapid turnaround is not a symptom of workaholism, indifference towards the war, nor or an indication that they do not care about their families. To the people I spoke with, work is another form of resistance, of support for their country, and of course a distraction. Rather than sitting with their anxiety about what may happen, they can focus on something that can bring revenue into their country.
A Spirit of Unity
A Ukrainian on Calavista’s team made a surprising comment shortly after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. She said, “it was Putin’s gift to Ukraine.” Strangely, she was not being sarcastic. Her point was that prior to that, many Ukrainians felt a deep kinship with Russia. They were closely related geographically, culturally (many of them speak Russian), and had been politically joined for the 70 years prior to 1991. That kinship was destroyed at a stroke in Crimea. As she put it, by annexing Crimea, Putin had given Ukraine what they’d lacked: a sense of their individual Nationality. And they all realized that their Nation had a powerful enemy to the east, and it might need to fight for its survival.
Of course, that’s one person’s perspective. But it bears up: What is striking to me is the unified front that Ukrainians and our Ukrainian team members have maintained. In the early days of the invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky shared a video saying that “we are all here and will stay put and committed no matter what.” This is of course true of the Ukrainian military forces, but the entire nation has taken this to heart. Those not fighting on the front lines, such as working in software development, still fight the good fight by continuing work as normal. To them, to continue to be productive, to bring in income and a good reputation for their people (we love working with our Ukrainian partners!) is its own form of resistance. It shows the Kremlin that Ukraine is strong as a nation, not just as a military, but as an economic establishment and society as well.
Working Through The War
Challenges for our team members continued even after they were evacuated to safer cities. Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid made it difficult to predict when they would be able to be online. They worked through rolling blackouts, and even sometimes from bomb shelters, as they adjusted to the new reality for their nation. “You cannot get used to war, but in a way you can adapt to it,” one of our colleagues, Nadiya Dubyk told me. She was explaining how they have been able to roll with the different punches that come as the war rages on, from blackouts to bombings to evacuations, and through deaths of loved ones and losses of homes.
Still, “life goes on. There is no choice but to go on,” Nadiya explained to me. Though it was not always possible to predict when work would be interrupted, she and her teammates still made a point to complete work when they could. They found community and support in each other and comfort from the support they saw around the world. “Everyone was calm and resolute and committed to fighting back,” she said, explaining how she found the drive to stay strong through such challenging times. “I didn’t want to be the weak link in the chain.”
So the team members hold each other up and hold each other together, turning to software development, of all things, to play their part in fighting for Ukraine. That is, when they are not also volunteering, hosting others, and donating what they can to support their nation directly.
We are incredibly proud of our partners in Ukraine and remain committed to supporting them and working with them through these challenging times. After all, why wouldn’t we? They are still helping us deliver state of the art software on time and on budget. Their quality of work has not wavered, nor has their determination to support their country, and neither will our support of them.