Nor­we­gian tech ex­ec­u­tive talks about do­ing busi­ness in Ukraine

Kyiv Post - - Business - BY BOZHENA SHEREMETA [email protected] Kyiv Post staff writer Bozhena Sheremeta can be reached at [email protected] The Kyiv Post’s IT cov­er­age is spon­sored by AVen­tures Cap­i­tal, Cik­lum, FISON and Soft­Serve.

While most busi­nesses are put off by in­sta­bil­ity in Ukraine, Nor­way’s Itera isn’t one of them.

The com­pany, one of Scan­di­navia’s lead­ing tech play­ers, head­quar­tered in Oslo, came to Ukraine amid the 2008 global eco­nomic cri­sis to open a re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­ter.

Itera’s cen­ter in Kyiv, which is ac­tive in con­sult­ing, soft­ware de­sign, de­vel­op­ment and other in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ser­vices, also sur­vived last year’s tur­bu­lence in good shape.

“Be­fore I met with the key share­holder at Itera, he had al­ready vis­ited seven coun­tries in Eastern Europe, look­ing for a place where it would be pos­si­ble to open new re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­ters,” says Igor Mendze­brovski, Itera’s ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of global out­sourc­ing.

Ukraine came out on top. The Kyiv of­fice em­ploys 120 out of the 500 em­ploy­ees Itera has glob­ally. Most of the Ukrainian team works on or­ders from clients around the world.

How­ever, Mendze­brovski said that while Ukrainian tech spe­cial­ists are good, they can’t com­pete with those from In­dia, he says. In­dian com­pa­nies can do more cheaply. In­dia’s tech in­dus­try em­ploys two mil­lion, while Ukrainian tech com­pa­nies em­ploy just over 50,000 peo­ple.

Many tal­ented Ukrainian tech spe­cial­ists have al­ready left Ukraine in search of higher salaries and higher liv­ing stan­dards abroad.

But many like Itera are stay­ing put, even though Mendze­brovski doesn’t see the IT sec­tor as be­ing the ba­sis of a fu­ture eco­nomic re­cov­ery in Ukraine.

More fun­da­men­tal prob­lems have to be tack­led first, he says, among them Ukraine’s flawed ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem.

As a co-au­thor of the Ukrainian na­tional ed­u­ca­tional stan­dards and cur­ric­ula for soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing, Mendze­brovski be­lieves that high qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion is the foun­da­tion for Ukraine’s de­vel­op­ment.

“Even bal­let dancers should know math­e­mat­ics and physics. Then we will have a tech­no­log­i­cal break­through in the coun­try,” he said. “A shop as­sis­tant who has a higher ed­u­ca­tion is a recipe for suc­cess. She might not be us­ing it in the right way, but her at­ti­tude to her child will be much bet­ter. In the fu­ture she will make her child go and get a higher ed­u­ca­tion as well.”

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