“Follow Your Passion and Stand for What You Believe”
Kostyantyn is 22 years old and was born in Ukraine. At the age of 15, he has won a right to participate in the FLEX Program funded by U.S. Department of State to live one year in the American family and study in the U.S. High School. At the age of 17, he was accepted to the University of Tartu, Estonia for the program of Economics and Business Administration. He took part in Erasmus exchanges to Germany (University of Augsburg) and Indonesia (BINUS University) Besides studies, he was part of AIESEC Estonia as volunteered in AIESEC Hyderabad (India) as a social sciences school teacher for the 5th-grade students.
Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story!
A: I was born and raised in Ukraine - the biggest by territory country in Europe. Ukraine is widely known as the “breadbasket” in Europe and indeed wheat is one of the most exported products produced in our country. Obtaining its independence in 1991, we are still considered as a young democracy that is on the way to the development and establishing itself on the global political and economic arena.
For the past 15 years, our nation has been through 3 revolutions and still is in the ongoing war, but despite everything, it remains one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. One of the key sectors developing in our country is IT, in which I am working as well. 12 of the Ukrainian IT companies are in the list of Outsource 100 Globally and by now there are more than 1500 companies that provide IT services worldwide.
Ukraine is not only the country where I was born and raised, but it is also the country where I came back after almost 5 years of absence and place in which I decided to develop the first steps of my professional career. First 15 years of my life were exactly the same as millions of kids in Ukraine have. I was studying at high school and did not have anything extraordinary except my parents’ desire to make me better in everything possible. The first turning point happened in 2011 where at the age of 15 I became a FLEX (Future Leader’s Exchange) Finalist and won a scholarship to go to the United States for one year. The point of the program was to live one year in a US family and study in the typical US high school to experience a new culture and get own thinking out of the box.
As a result, I managed to live in two states and two families - Indiana and Ohio. Later on, I came back to Ukraine to graduate from high school and moved to Estonia to study Economics and Business Administration at the University of Tartu. At that time, I clearly understood that the concept of “easy” life is not for me. I prefer to live an interesting, challenging, full of ups and downs life which is fulfilled with the sense. During my university years, I have managed to be an exchange student in Universitat Augsburg, Germany and BINUS University, Jakarta. I have also been a volunteer in India through AIESEC organization and worked as the school teacher in slums.
My main goal in university was not only to receive a classical higher education but to see the world from different perspectives, experience different cultures, and become a “world citizen” who will be feeling comfortable in any country on every continent. In 2015 with my Ukrainian fellow co-students started the first entrepreneurial attempts which later led us to the accelerator and Silicon Valley experience. We were able to learn from the world’s top mentors how to make the business work as the one mechanism and how to deliver the results. In 2017 all of us decided to come back to Ukraine and use all the knowledge, experience and first outcomes of our business to make it work in our native country.
By now we have managed to build a working business, already widely known in the UK and Europe. We help top EU and UK companies to fight the talent shortage and give the opportunity to work in Ukraine with the local IT talent. On our behalf, we organize all the processes, so for the companies that work with us, it is completely hassle-free. While inviting entrepreneurs from around the world to Ukraine, I see how they fall in love with the country, people who live there and its incredible nature. My goal is to show that Ukraine is the country where the next big things are going to happen. By now, coming back here was far the best decision I’ve ever made and I will do my best to work on the prestige of my country and the good of its people.
Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?
A: Learning about the world throughout history, I’ve always seen it as a developing mechanism in which globalization and unity of people were inevitable. For me, it is natural that countries unite in unions, and the world becomes more and more connected. I believe that with the era of the global economy, we have faced the era of global responsibility.
Right now we can no longer show ignorance to what’s happening around us. With the use of modern technology and the accumulated knowledge and experience, we as the human kind are able to solve the majority of the global issues already this century. I strongly believe that now it is the time when we choose which way we should take for the next century. The concept of a better world is the world where we are able to think long-term and do not run after the short-term benefits. By now, most of the global leaders of the democratic admit that the strategy of using the sources given to us for the short-term benefits is not working anymore. I admire living in a world where entrepreneurs can launch rockets to space, but at the same time, I do not want to accept the fact that still hundreds of millions of people are below the poverty line. We still have a long way to go to make our planet a convenient place to live for the millions of people and it’s time to accept the challenges the future is giving us. We knew what is war, repressions, poverty for thousands of years. Only for the few past decades, we started to learn what is tolerance, freedom, equality and we have no choice, but to move to the model of the global society where we actually solve the issues and think about the long-term future of all of us.
I want to be a person who is part of the solution, not a problem and use the time that was given me to make lives of the people better, safer and more convenient, not only for the ones that currently inhabit earth but for the future generations as well.
Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?
A: Being a young, 28-year old state that previously was decades under the influence of the Soviet Union, Ukraine experiences lots of the challenges on its way to a successful and developed country in which every citizen has equal security, rights, and opportunities.
Most of the challenges that we can observe in Ukrainian society, in my view, have two main reasons. The first one is the “Soviet” way of thinking that everything will be decided for you. For already 28 years at every election we expect that we will choose a “father” (president) that will solve all of the nation's issues, bring and implement European values and changes the lives of every Ukrainian. What we are missing is understanding the power that an individual adds to the common effort. Now all of us have a power of voice, power of action, hence power of change. There is a great citation of the great American football coach Vince Lombardi that support my point of view: Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a teamwork, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. We must embrace changes and care about the world that surrounds us. We must take decisions and responsibility as much possible and help to other people. At this time we cannot expect and wait that somebody will build the country for us. We are the country and we build it together. This is what I stand for and what I spread to my fellow citizens.
The second key challenge is the division of the nation into two groups and devolving its unity. Dividing on “our” and “their” people, “left” or “right”, “western” or “eastern” Ukrainians.
In my view, power is in unity. The strength is in common effort. The key to our successful and sustainable future is the unity of Ukraine as the country and as the nation.
Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?
A: Experiencing different cultures and living in different societies, I have understood that as a young individual I cannot blame anyone or anything during the process of my life. The hardest thing for me is to consciously look at myself, my life, my relationships and understand what stands behind my thoughts, actions, and feelings. I see this hardness as the natural thing while growing as an individual. Nevertheless, by far it was and still is the hardest thing - to choose to live a conscious life and take responsibility for it. I believe this is a natural process in the life of an individual and by now I consider that as the most significant. I believe that at the time when a person understands itself, own thoughts, emotions, and desires, then it is not a problem to make a right decision in career and follow your own passion and stand for what you believe is right.
Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?
A: When being a young individual, you have lots of questions about how to make the right decision, how to analyze the particular situation, how to learn and how to grow. In this case, the mentor is the person who never judges and helps with the particular pieces of advice, materials, cases. It is the person who already has experienced everything that I am going through right now and is able to guide me throughout the challenges I face. I believe that the role of the mentor in my life right now is priceless since sometimes only her phrase completely changes what I think about a particular situation. It helps me to grow, learn and develop fast and reach my own goals.
Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?
A: There is a lesson that my father has taught me and life has proven it multiple times. In my father's cabinet on the whole wall, there was a phrase: "Be in a hurry of doing good for people". He explained back then to the 5-year old kid that out of all the ways to live the life this is the one that is worthy to choose. Over time, I have experienced that out all of the things I can achieve and do, being able to create things, services with the thought of others is a true right thing and true fulfilment.
Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!
A: In Ukraine, we have a charity fund run by 3 wonderful women that already helped thousands of ill kids, refugees, poor people. The name of the fund is "Monter's Corporation". They help families with crowdfunding for medicine and surgeries, help with buying the right treatment and since 2017 managed to build a network of 200 volunteers. They help thousands of my fellow citizens. I admire their efforts.
Q: Athena40 is the first ever global selection of the top 40 women forward thinkers, commentators, activists, authors, academics, entrepreneurs, executives, innovators. Can you think of a truly innovative and forward-thinking woman from your country that you wish to nominate for the Athena40 global list?
A: Ulana Suprun, the minister of Healthcare of Ukraine is the person that fights the corruption and old way of leading the healthcare in our country. As any person on such a high position, some people admire her and some stand against her. But in any case, she deserves respect for the innovations, courage and new way of doing things that she brings on her position.
Also, Victoriya Tigipko as the woman show shapes the tech scene of Ukraine. She is a true innovator by nature and one of the most notable women in her sphere globally.
Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!
A: The greatness or poverty of the human spirit does not correlate with material goods or other traditional measures of success. - Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates
Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.
A: Every day do, learn and enjoy something new.