Fresh look at Ukraine’s IT future: interview with Henrik Pedersen

Henrik Pedersen is a Danish native who relocated to Ukraine for working as Sales Director in the IT sphere, yet found the country comfortable and promising in terms of doing business as well. Introducing the country to international business owners is one of the main goals of Mr. Pedersen owing to his strong belief in Ukraine’s IT future. Besides that Mr. Pedersen is a member of Lviv-International Rotary Club, an international charity with over 1.2 million members worldwide.

How did you decide to start to live and work in Ukraine? What were the first hurdles you met when you started working here?

I came to Ukraine in 2008 the first time like a coincidence. At my job at that time my boss called me and told that I have too much holiday and it cannot be transferred to the next season. So, I had to take 14 days of holiday. I didn’t want to stay in Denmark. So I simply opened the atlas and pointed to a random country. I had this condition if I need a visa, or how could I get there, etc. I came to Kyiv and immediately fell in love with the city and the country. Since then I’ve been coming to Kyiv and Ukraine in and out more than a hundred and fifty times. For me, the city has become a place for me to get away from normal life, like a way to escape. I liked the country a lot. And, when I was offered a chance to work here, I agreed.

Having a chance to work in Kyiv and Lviv, could you name the main differences in culture and communication in terms of doing business in IT? What would you advise to local companies to increase the productivity of their specialists?

Generally, Kyiv is a little bit more stressed, since there are more people if compare to Lviv. And I think Lviv is a bit easier to do business with because people are more open, willing to listen to ideas and are more open-minded. It doesn’t mean that people in Kyiv are not friendly, it’s just easier to communicate with people in Lviv. As to the companies here, I always say it’s great to make each team member feel as a key member. A good manager should come every day saying “Hello” to each one as well as it’s necessary to lift team spirit in order to reach high. There’s a huge potential in Ukraine’s IT market which is underestimated. It possesses a huge labor capacity and will get more as the industry continues growing.

How do you think, what changes is the Ukrainian IT industry going to face in the nearest future?

I do believe that the number of IT companies will reduce, since, the IT outsourcing service providers will shift to the development of own products, hence, they will focus on a single technology or competence. Also, I believe, the number of specialists will continue growing as well as the share of women in IT will also grow. The small outsourcing companies will, probably unite together or become parts of large ones. As the IT world is rapidly changing, companies have to adapt to these conditions and know how to get the most from such changes. I would recommend focusing on own products also because this will help to establish a better team spirit. Because people working on the same project are more united, hence, they feel their importance and increase their productivity.

What advice would you give to foreign companies that are considering Ukraine for doing business with?

One of the main advice of mine to foreign companies would be making a good agreement. It's essential to discuss all the terms before you sign the deal. Secondly, it's necessary to stick to the plan. As soon as both parties established the plan, it should be followed. Ukrainians are very open to new ideas and changes. Therefore, they are ready to meet the client's needs. Still, foreign companies, if decided to work with Ukraine, should understand the mentality of local specialists. If you think you are not open to that, you'd rather not to start doing business here. And, finally, mutual respect should always be present. Especially, when the companies come from different parts of the world, they should bear in their mind other’s cultural peculiarities. Although, Ukrainians are a bit slower in doing the job than, say, in Denmark, but that doesn't mean they’re doing it badly.

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