Alex’s Story: Working to Make Sure Ukraine is Open for Business
PM Stories Ukraine
On 24 February 2022, as bombs began to fall on Ukraine’s major cities, Alex Sobol set to work. Alex, recently returned from maternity leave and working remotely from home in Kyiv with her parent’s help, had meetings to attend with her team and clients engaged on a project creating an e-commerce platform for selling diamonds, jewelry and luxury watches. “The thing that gave us the opportunity to distract ourselves was the project tasks,” she says. “All members of our team in different cities in Ukraine continued to work and we discussed whether everything is fine with everyone, who is where, whether someone plans to leave the country and how we should proceed.”
But the next day everything changed. “We woke up at 4:00 a.m. to the loud sound of an explosion. And I remember how my daughter screamed. We saw a flash of bright light and after 3 minutes we ran to the shelter,” Alex says. A missile had hit a nearby house, breaking the windows and setting it on fire. “At that moment, I was mentally paralyzed—I couldn’t work or play with my daughter. I didn't want to leave the shelter, only there I felt safe.”
On the second day of the war Alex’s husband left to join the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine. “I was really scared,” Alex says. “But we had Wi-Fi in the shelter, and I was trying to update my tasks. I set priorities for my team and was in touch with everybody. I was amazed by our people in the shelter because they organized everything. There was even a warm room for the children where they could spend time playing or watching cartoons on TV.”
After several days, Alex made the difficult decision to leave Ukraine and traveled by train and car, finally crossing the border into Poland on foot. She feels grateful to her cousins who were able to organize everything with the help of the Polish community. “It was a good decision to go there because after a few days I started sleeping, eating and could spend more time with my daughter, though we were scared about our parents, about relatives and friends. I will never forget what the Polish people did for us.” Eventually she was joined by her mother and the family moved on to Bulgaria where she was able to rent an apartment.
Alex recently returned to Kyiv where she was reunited with her husband, who has the opportunity to visit every 2 or 3 weeks. “It’s hard to say that we’re totally safe, but it’s an amazing feeling to be home,” she says. “Kyiv is so alive. To say hello and to hug, because we were really missing him. It's hard to be apart from each other for such a long period and to feel scared that you won't have a chance to see the people who you love.”
But Alex, like many of her colleagues, stresses that Ukraine is still open for business. Work is the best way they can help their country right now. “Before the war,” Alex says, “Ukraine was in its heyday. We were becoming a digitalized state. We have a powerful IT sector; and we are hardworking, peaceful and smart people. I have a huge motivation to continue to work. My team members have been working from shelters under the sounds of shelling and explosions, but our productivity continues to grow. Can you imagine this? It's incredible. For everyone, it's very important that clients, despite the war, continue to provide us with work—loading our people with tasks. Keep supporting us. Everybody in my company and other people I know will try to provide the best products and to work as much as they can to show what specialists we are and how well we can do our work.”
We at the Project Management Institute stand in solidarity with Ukrainian people. We support Eastern European members and volunteers during this time of crisis. Learn how you can support the people of Ukraine. Go to PMI’s Solidarity with Ukraine page.