Volo Ukraine is 5 Years Old
14 Dec 2020
We have a notable anniversary this year – Volo Ukraine turns 5 years old. Ever since Volo decided to open a branch in Zaporizhia 5 years ago, it has brought us closer to the great tech talent pool of Ukraine.
We loved the experience so much that we opened 2 more branches in Odessa and Dnipro. Our Volo Ukraine team is 42 people strong and growing steadily. We plan to reinforce our presence there and continue to push our business forward.
Read on to get the first-person accounts from our CEO, Armen Kocharyan and Ukraine Country Director, Artashes Gof the entire setup process and what it means to us to have branches in Ukraine.
Can you tell us about the setup process of the 3 VOLO offices in Ukraine?
Armen: One of the greatest challenges of opening a branch in another country is having a reliable and trustworthy person on site, who would be in charge of managing the entire setup process. It just so happened that Artashes’s move to Ukraine coincided with VOLO’s plans towards scaling and international expansion.
Fully realizing the limitations of the Armenian tech market in terms of resource availability, we did our due diligence in looking into what the Ukrainian tech scene had to offer and decided that it was a fitting location for our first overseas branch.
Artashes: We opened our first Ukrainian branch in 2015 in Zaporizhia, one of the most industrial cities in the country. As it was our first time venturing out to another country, there was definitely a learning curve to the whole setup process. Planning and coordinating the same activities for our 2nd and 3rd offices in Dnipro and Odessa respectively got increasingly easier. Turns out, the simplest approach is often the best approach.
Armen: It was a conscious decision not to have an office in the capital (besides the obvious cost-efficiency reasons). As a company, we put a great deal of emphasis on cultivating long-term relationships with our customers and our employees alike. And so, our thinking was that if someone had decided to stay in his or her hometown and contribute to its development as a member of the community, we took it as a sign of devotion and loyalty. Those were the kinds of people that we wanted as employees – people that would be loyal to Volo and work towards mutual success instead of just using our company as yet another stepping stone towards other possibilities.
What characteristics of the Ukrainian tech industry have you observed? How is it different from or similar to the Armenian tech scene?
Artashes: The willingness to learn and to continue to develop as a professional has little to do with nationality and everything to do with being an innately-driven and self-motivated individual. Other than that, I see more similarities than differences between our teams in Armenia and Ukraine, maybe for the exception of mentality and a slightly different cultural outlook.
Armen: I have to say, we found our Ukrainian team to be qualified, technically able, and responsible. As with any team, it’s difficult to homogenize a group of individuals based on nationality or place of residence. Some people are eager to lead and extremely proactive, some expect more guidance and direction, while others thrive in a micromanaging environment. Nevertheless, I can say with confidence that they come together and pull through and deliver whenever the project calls for it.
In what ways is the Ukrainian team an asset to VOLO?
Artashes: It’s a wonderful addition to our family of professionals. Our workforce gets increasingly diverse, which is always an asset in terms of knowledge- and experience-sharing within VOLO.
Armen: We see cultural diversity as one of the main ingredients of our success as a company, and the constant collaboration with our office in Ukraine helps us maintain diverse cultural perspectives, which, in turn, results in continued creativity and innovation.
How do you see the future of VOLO Ukraine progressing?
Armen: I would be lying if I said that achieving complete synergy between the various company branches is an easy process – it isn’t. Be it in terms of cultural alignment, knowledge sharing, or employee engagement, it all requires monumental effort and a systemic approach. To that end, we had big travel plans this year between our various departments in Armenia and Ukraine, which were all inadvertently cancelled because of COVID, and which we hope to resume as soon as the pandemic ends.
VOLO Armenia is known for its unique culture. How do you maintain or develop VOLO culture in Ukraine?
Artashes: Some of the defining pillars of VOLO’s culture are mutual respect and a work environment based on team spirit and professionalism. When hiring, we choose people who embody these characteristics and who would fit well within our organization. It doesn’t matter what nationality you are – the most important thing is that you have the right attitude. Our goal is to create a strong community of professionals who share the same fundamental values and vision.
Armen: Building and maintaining healthy company culture is all about value alignment between VOLO and the people we hire. We don’t aggressively headhunt certain professionals in order to fulfill short-term project goals, as many companies do in this business. As Artashes already mentioned, we hire people based on character and simple human values like trust, responsibility, and respect in interpersonal relationships, which are timeless and will always hold true. And while this was easier to oversee in a smaller team, it’s becoming increasingly difficult as the company grows.
This is why we are currently in the process of developing a company culture guide, which’ll help us be upfront with our current and potential employees about what they can expect from VOLO and what, in turn, VOLO expects from them. By tying our culture guide to our training and development plan which we have for all our employees, we aim to be more specific about their goals in our organization and how their personal goals factor into the collective company mission.