The 100th day of Russia’s war in Ukraine was Friday, June 3rd. During this time, Ukrainian women, especially those in tech, have been the major force behind keeping the country’s economy alive, as many men are serving in the army. Women also face different, but still difficult, situations such as deciding whether to stay in Ukraine or leave with their children, and how to make enough money for their family, and so on.
Softjourn is a female-led, US-based tech company with an office and large employee presence in Ukraine. They recently launched a #SupportUkraineTech campaign to galvanize the global tech community to support Ukraine’s immense IT industry. The IT industry is Ukraine’s 3rd-largest export.
Women Love Tech recently talked to Emmy Gengler – CEO & Founder of Softjourn – who gave us a unique perspective of Ukraine’s female tech community and how it has been stepping up much like women did during WW2.
“Softjourn is a women-led, US-based tech company with the largest R&D presence in Ukraine,” said Emmy, who is based in the US, but travels frequently between offices in Poland and Ukraine. “We’re a full-cycle consulting and software development company, with expert product teams experienced in Finance and Media and Entertainment, with a special emphasis on Ticketing.
“When the war started, we were not sure what reaction to expect from our clients, but we have been overwhelmed with the support they have shown to our team members in Ukraine. We’ve heard from a variety of clients that they have been impressed with the professionalism and work ethic of the teams, even with the war.
“We’ve had current clients sign additional projects with us, which has provided more revenue growth during these months over the past years. Additionally, we’ve received 300% year-over-year client signings since the war; this may be due to companies wanting to partner with Ukraine R&D teams to support Ukraine’s economy.”
Softjourn continues to support Ukraine, and its Ukrainian workforce has grown by 10% since the war started.
“There are a number of areas driving me – first, the people: making sure that everyone is safe,” explains Emmy. “For all Ukrainians, no matter where, we are focused on mental health, how they deal with the stress of the war and what is happening to their country, to their friends, and their family. How can we help? How is this going to affect everyone in the long term?
“Also driving me is growth: To keep driving the economy. How can we help the tech industry in Ukraine? How do we help our fellow tech companies that have had a much harder time than we have had? How can the tech industry drive the rebuilding of Ukraine?
“Finally, I also am driven by managing business risk for clients.”
Volunteering efforts we have done
Although they were shocked when the war began, the team managed to unite efforts and organize support to send resources to Ukraine’s front lines. Katia Ryzha, the head of Softjourn’s projects and delivery management department, has been in charge of organizing the company’s volunteer efforts.
Since the war began, Ukrainian soldiers at the front line have requested tools and other hard-to-find items from their friends and colleagues around the country. Katia shared, “Our team coordinated scavenging garages, basements, and tool sheds, as most of these supplies are hard or impossible to find now in Ukraine.”
Many of Softjourn’s employees have donated parts of their salary to the company’s volunteer fund, and others raise money through garage sales and other fundraising efforts. Through this, the company has gathered funds to purchase a variety of equipment to support the frontlines; helmets, vehicles, thermal goggles, bulletproof vests, and even an ambulance.
Katia Ryzha, Head of the Projects and Delivery Management Department, manages volunteering and company-wide efforts on projects for Ukraine, such as raising funds to buy supplies for Ukraine’s army.
“The main thing motivating me to volunteer is a desire to help,” said Katia. “But when I look deeper, what truly drives me is a feeling of beauty when I participate in the creation of something useful, that makes people’s lives easier and happier. This is very inspiring to me.”
Olga Bandura, Head of Marketing and Business Development, says she does not feel they are at the point where only women are the ones driving the economy in Ukraine, and says she hopes it won’t get to that point. “Helping to keep the business functioning in Ukraine to help the economy is one of the things that drives day-to-day work for me and likely others,” says Olga.
Many employees feel that through continuing to work, they are fighting on the “second front” – by supporting Ukraine’s economy, military, and infrastructure.
How people outside Ukraine can help
Emmy Gengler says one of the best ways to support Ukraine’s tech community is to stand with your Ukrainian business partners, continue to license or purchase products and services, and explore new business and consulting opportunities in Ukraine to solve your tech challenges.
“Ukraine’s tech sector remains open for business and is continuing to work with contingency plans put in place before the conflict started,” she says. “Russia’s invasion will not stop the progress and achievements of Ukraine’s tech community.”
About Emmy Gengler – CEO & Founder of Softjourn
Emmy has over 35 years of experience in the software engineering industry. As CEO of Softjourn, she is passionate about what software can do, how it can bring ideas to life, and getting it done in a way that clients can launch new services and see results.