On April 24, the Kyiv office of California-based GlobalLogic welcomed the company’s board of directors, who had travelled in from all over the world.
While international companies across many sectors shut down their operations in Ukraine over the last year, the GlobalLogic board members came to Kyiv to see firsthand how company operations were going in Ukraine and to roll out new development strategies. And they did this in spite of the worrying specter of war that has been frightening investors away from Ukraine this year.
With its Kyiv office, which opened in 2006, GlobalLogic also has operations in Kharkiv, Lviv and Mykolaiv, creating jobs for more than 2,500 Ukrainian tech specialists. It’s one of the five largest players in the outsourcing sector of the Ukrainian IT market, and it is worth over $2 billion. GlobalLogic’s main rivals in the local market are other global software development giants – Luxoft, EPAM, Ciklum and SoftServe.
Sir Peter Bonfield, a GlobalLogic board member since 2014, says that Ukraine’s main value as a base of operations, regardless of geopolitical risks, is the strength of the local professional talent.
“The reason why Ukraine is good at what it’s good at is that it has been very strong historically on science, technology, engineering and math education at schools and universities,” Bonfield says.
For all the players in the Ukrainian-software development market, success also largely depends on the outcome of the talent pool competition rather than mere business competition, says Igor Byeda, senior vice president and managing director of GlobalLogic Ukraine.
To increase this competitive talent pool, the government should steer the education system towards more engineering and math disciplines, Bonfield says.
He adds that young people need to be shown that if they pursue work in IT, many advantages open up for them – including high salaries, excellent work conditions, and mobility within a company’s offices around the world. “If you are a young, aspiring person in IT, the list of these advantages can be very exciting,” Bonfield says.
Currently, the IT outsourcing sector employs more than 50,000 people, while around 5,000 of the most talented ones annually get head-hunted by foreign tech companies as they search for better pay and work conditions.
Ukraine’s international image of instability is still a great stumbling block. “But for the current moment, the world has got a wrong impression of what is happening in Ukraine,” Bonfield says. “The government, I think, could do more with good publicity, good reforms and a lot of other things just trying to get people in, to see that the situation is actually a lot more stable.”
The advantage of the IT industry in relation to other industries is that it provides significantly lower risks. “The only risk in fact must be whether you’ve got skilled people or not, and that in Ukraine is the lowest, because you’ve got skilled people,” Bonfield says.
Following the EuroMaidan Revolution and the war in the east, for GlobalLogic, Ukraine’s worsening political and economic situation meant less visits to potentially new clients from those who worked abroad, as well as for those within the country.
Byeda thinks that such visits by board members and by other employees from GlobalLogic’s headquarters in the U.S. help the company. “It gives the real picture, not something you may see on the BBC or CNN news,” Byeda says.
“A board meeting is a big part of GlobalLogic’s operations and we wanted to show that having it in Kyiv is just as normal for the company as having it in London or New Delhi,” Bonfield says.