Planning to outsource web development and other services, customers should think of Ukraine in the first place. This and many other ideas of Zhenya Rozinskiy, a business consultant, who has been living and working in the United States for nearly 25 years now, can be found in our interview. You’ll see how Ukrainian Drupal developers and the Ukrainian IT sphere looks in the eyes of Western customers and what needs to be done to improve the situation.
Zhenya, how do you assess the level of training of Ukrainian specialists in comparison to that of the Western ones?
In my opinion, the technical training level of Ukrainian specialists is every bit as good as that of American guys. But I think there is one important area in which Ukraine is losing out — it’s architecture. In Ukraine, it is common practice to solve problems in the fastest way possible, while in America, we are used to doing things in the right way — to make everything scalable for a long time.
In your opinion, what qualities and skills should people cultivate in themselves, and, on the contrary, what qualities should they get rid of in order to be successful on the Western labor market?
The most necessary quality is the ability to communicate. It’s not about the language — though, of course, English is essential. The important thing is to learn to smile and be friendly. In America, there is such a thing as a "chitchat" — you come to a meeting, and the first few minutes are spent on “small talk”. When people see each other, they smile and say, "How are you?" — "Fine". These are not questions about life — it’s all about politeness.
Ukrainian guys are blunt in speaking, too blunt. They think they are the smartest person in the room. Sometimes it even seems to me that a favorite word of a Ukrainian developer is the word "no." They must learn to speak their minds without offending the opponent. Do not answer in a way that makes your partner think that you are superior to him. Maybe I’m saying obvious things, but this is exactly what I hear about most often from my American colleagues.
We all know about the phenomenon of "brain drain" from the Ukraine to the West, especially in the IT sphere. How bad is this trend, and what, in your opinion, should be done to improve it?
Brain drain is very bad, but every cloud has a silver lining: the world is getting to know Ukrainian developers. When I mention Ukraine, I often hear a comment like this: "Oh, yes, we have someone from Ukraine on our team, and the guy is a brilliant developer”.
But the brain drain phenomenon, of course, must be stopped. Ukrainian government just must decide that they want to make Ukraine an IT-country. India has become the world’s IT-outsourcing capital thanks to its government decision. The same thing is taking place in China — a few years ago, a decision was made to expand from goods production to IT. Ukraine can do it, too, if the appropriate decision is made. It’s actually quite easy. If someone asks me, I have a recipe.
Unfortunately, the whole world knows about the events that are happening now in Ukraine. How, in your opinion, is it better to give a signal to Western customers that IT in Ukraine is ok, and it is safe and secure to work with us?
Customers need confidence in the future. Unfortunately, the problem that is hanging over Ukraine today makes many western companies think: do I really want to get involved? There is only way to deal with it is to do a good job and deliver, no matter what happens. Besides, though I feel it’s wrong to say so, but the conflict in Ukraine made the world learn about Ukraine very quickly and stop see all post-Soviet space as "Russian”. Ukraine needs to promote itself, maintain the interest and constantly support this message "Ukraine, Ukraine, everything is ok in Ukraine!".
When photos of "Google" offices in the different countries appear on the Internet, many people admire the comfortable and relaxed atmosphere in them. Bright colors, comfortable recreation areas — everything for the inspiration! In your opinion, is it useful, and would you advise to make all offices like that?
You see, it’s not about offices. Painting the walls in bright colors does not change anything. An office is just a reflection of the environment that a company wants to create. Usually things we see improve productivity and creativity. But the most important thing is that companies like "Google" create an environment in which its employees can create art. After all, writing good code is an art. Coming up with a good project is an art. Western companies invest into developing creative people, and even more, leaders. Today, the same is not done in Ukraine. But the most valuable resource a company has been its people.
Zhenya, we are looking forward to your lectures and classes in Ukraine. It is very useful to listen to the opinion of a competent person who sees Ukraine from the point of view of the West. What do you expect from the audience? Good questions, active discussion, right conclusions?
I travel to Ukraine to share my experience. I want to see Ukraine rising and reaching the world’s level. When I present a class, I expect first of all that people walk out with one idea. Something that they can do tomorrow. I expect that, coming to work, they think: what if I do something in a different way? I want people to start seeing problems in a new light.
Once a guy in my class said, “You break the patterns of how people see things”. This is probably the biggest compliment for me. What I'm really looking forward to is communication in my classes and seminars. I conduct them in a very informal way. When people ask questions, I know they are interested. When people take part in the discussion, I know that they will take a lot more from it than if they would just listen and tried to remember my words.
Even the most demanded specialists are just people who need to draw energy and inspiration for work, in order not to get tired. What would you advise for that?
It seems to me that the best way to get inspiration is to communicate with people who know more than you do. When you deal with people who are close to you in spirit, and at the same time you have the opportunity to use your “gray cells”, this is exactly what inspires you to create something new.
What do you miss most in Ukraine, and what would you like to wish to our readers?
When I live in America, I miss Ukraine, I miss the people. I could call it nostalgia — I miss my childhood, my memories about good friends, with many of whom I still communicate. But when I come to Ukraine and stay there for a week or two, I begin to miss my home. And my home is America - my family is there, and I live there.
I want to wish the readers first and foremost is to team up and try to raise Ukrainian IT to the internationally recognized level. You can achieve it with PR, and by understanding that every customer who has come to Ukraine is a great help to everyone, not just that one company. I also wish you to unite and stop all this instability that you have. I understand that you personally can not do it, but a lot depends on you. Again, the most important thing is to be united for one purpose: think quality of service, so every customer thinks of Ukraine first.