Ryta’s Story: Finding Peace in a Small Village During War
Project managers often have to work under difficult conditions, but few have encountered the challenges that Ryta Popova and her colleagues at UDTech have had to face. Ryta, who has more than 5 years’ experience in the field, leads projects at UDTech, an IT services firm headquartered in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. Ryta has a master’s degree in organizational management and began her career organizing business events. Now she specializes in working with clients on website design and applications.
But since 24 February 2022, she has had to schedule meetings around air-raid sirens. “The moment I understood my life and the life of all my family was about to change was the first air alert,” Ryta says, “That was on the first day of the war when we were woken up by the sound of an explosion. We were just trying to stay calm and then tried to call other family members. I called my mom just to make sure that she was okay, and my husband did the same with his parents.”
Ryta continued to work, but as the frontline of the war crept closer and closer, she made the difficult decision to leave her home. “One of my colleagues was able to help us find an apartment in a tiny village in central Ukraine, about 100 miles away,” she says. Her parents decided to stay behind in Zaporizhzhia. “They love their home the same as we do, but they have spent more of their lives there and for them it was not so easy to just move to nowhere with just one bag and leave the rest of their life behind. For us it was a little bit easier.”
Life is much quieter in her new village, in contrast to her former residence in the bustling industrial city. “It's an interesting experience for me because it's another type of life,” Ryta says. “Everything moves much more slowly; everything is quiet and I believe that's great for now. It's everything that we need—the ability to spend our time at home, just working remotely and see the river and nature that surrounds us.”
Work also helps Ryta and her team deal with the stress of living in a war-torn country. “We continue to work on our projects. The main difference is that we are more flexible when we know that some of the other team members have air alerts and their working schedule for the day will be a little bit different. It’s important that they be safe. Many of us just take our laptop to the shelter or to sit in a hallway and it helps us to be less nervous, to concentrate on something else. Work is part of our normal life, and we believe it’s important for us to continue to do what we can and just do our best. In some situations, it even helps. All our teams are amazing and continue to have high performance.”
Ryta looks forward to the day when she can get back to her native city. She is eager to acknowledge the support Ukrainians receive from outside the country and expresses hope that it will continue. “Each word of support and everything that people from all over the world do for us is really important. We appreciate all of this and we believe that the war will stop and we will return to our normal lives. Thanks for everything, to all the nations, for the support of your country and your governments. It's amazing and critically important for us. It's difficult to be in this situation, but we hope and believe this support makes us stronger, much stronger.”
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.