Tetyana’s Story: Grateful for a Temporary Home in Poland

Tetyana Yakuba was on a business trip to Poland when war broke out in Ukraine. She had been closely following the news and, anticipating what might happen, decided to take her children with her. On 24 February 2022, she was able to reach out and help others at home. “Because I was in a safe place, all my thoughts were about how and who I can help by sending money or helping them move to a safer place,” she recalled. “And this is how I spent that morning and all the upcoming days, trying to help whoever I can and however I can.”

Trained as a linguist, Tetyana adopted a role as a project manager because many Ukrainian businesses had customers in the United States and required people with proficiency in English. Tetyana enjoyed working on all types of projects—Internet of Things, 3D design, mobile and web apps—for over 14 years. “I learned everything by doing the job,” she says. “I visited different conferences, I read literature—I was self-taught. But I didn’t have any structured education of project management.”

“My career followed a similar path with two companies—starting with just a few people and growing to around 50. I began as a project manager and then became chief of the management department. I loved that work,” Tetyana says. But she was eager to expand her capabilities. “The projects were interesting, but the projects were not big enough.” Working part-time after the birth of her daughter, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, seemed like the perfect time to get her PMP® certification. “It was very challenging to get ready for the exam because I had my newborn daughter to take care of, but it was definitely worth it. I boosted my knowledge and, now that I'm looking for a job, I believe that it will raise my chances to get a senior project management position.”

Tetyana emphasizes that it is important for her to be able to support her country and the people back in Ukraine. “I've never seen such unity and people so willing to help each other,” she observes. “It seems there were no obstacles to everyone sharing everything they had. You could call and say, ‘I need a car,’ and several hours later, there is someone with a car who is willing to share. Someone says, ‘I need cash because I can't use my card,’ and you find someone who can give. It was a tragic situation, but on the other hand, it was like a miracle seeing your people from that side. The most valuable thing is, of course, my friends and relatives. Once each of them arrived in Poland or another foreign country or safe place, that was the main treasure, the biggest happiness—not anything that I left back home.”

Tetyana is thankful, too, for all the hospitality shown by the Polish people. “From the very first day of the war, the Polish people have been extremely supportive and kind. At the train station, they were meeting Ukrainians and bringing them food and drinks and offering rides and many Polish families hosted Ukrainians in their homes. There are free language courses and schooling. When you go around the city, you see Ukrainian flags and banners. I will be forever grateful to the Polish people for their support and I want to look for ways to repay them because it's essential to show that gratitude.”

For now, though, Tetyana stresses the focus must remain on Ukraine and restoring the free, democratic society that existed before the war. Tetyana’s husband has started a charitable organization to provide essential needs for the defense effort. “It's most important to show people that even from abroad, everyone is supporting Ukraine as much as they can,” she says. “The PMI Ukraine Chapter has been super active from the first day of the war. They developed a website with other PMI chapters that provides details on many charitable organizations and ways people can get involved.”

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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.

Tetyana Yakuba

Tetyana Yakuba

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