A short business trip brought me to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. And while I know some Ukrainians, it was my first actual visit to the country.
European, but no EU
Ukraine is not a part of the European Union, but the first thing that caught my eye was the number of official buildings that carry the European flag. When I discussed this with friends in Kyiv, they explained that Ukraine would love to be a part of the EU
Ukraine is at the core of the most visible conflict between Europe and Russia. Some of the people that are part of number team in Ukraine send some of the salaries they make to relatives and friends who still fight against the Russian insurgents in the Crimean Peninsula. And that was the direct escalation of protests that started in Kyiv.
That protest had its most violent turn in the early days of 2014: Kyiv was the scene of a protest that turned out violent and left many ordinary citizens dead.
Ukraine as technology hub
But in Kyiv, the war is far away, and the conflict has made room for a prosperous city. Many young people here work in technology for Western companies. The team I’m visiting here is no different. When we searched for software engineers, we had trouble assembling a team and turned to Ukraine. The software developers and database engineers I manage remotely here are part of a growing contingent of people working for staffing agencies selling services to EU and US companies.
Population fall & Brain drain
As happens in the Baltic States, many young professionals try to obtain their papers to emigrate to the USA and to Western Europe, where well-trained professionals can help fill in the thousands of professional jobs.
The brain drain is also the cause of raising salaries in Ukraine. The advantage of having cheaper labor than the west, is slowly but surely fading away.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.