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Yuri Polakiwsky: Bridge building for Ukraine’s IT professionals

Published Sept. 1, 2021 at 1:52 pm
Michael Petrov of Digital Edge in New York. “My biggest goal is to promote Ukraine as a global engineering powerhouse," Petrov said.

“My biggest goal is to promote Ukraine as a global engineering powerhouse.”

So says Michael Petrov of Digital Edge Inc., an IT company located in Staten Island, New York, that designs and implements compliance platforms for cybersecurity, the managing of cloud services, and which also specializes in developing proprietary products and start-ups for the security, compliance enterprise and healthcare markets. Its customers include the retail giant, Bloomingdales and the government of Panama.

Having immigrated to the U.S. about 30 years ago, Petrov’s accumulated Western-based business knowledge and success, coupled with his extensive knowledge and experience of Ukrainian business culture, allows him to offer an insightful perspective as to the opportunities for Ukrainian IT specialists and developers within the global market.

His analysis, in general terms, begins and focuses on the importance of “culture” and “trust.”

In terms of culture, he speaks of the need for Ukrainian IT specialists to become more fully aware of the importance of learning about western business culture and productivity standards. More specifically, of the importance of conveying that they both clearly understand the specific needs of Western clients and that they have the ability to show the discipline of being able to fulfill specific project or market demands.

In regard to trust, he states that Ukraine’s IT professionals still face an image challenge. It is not only that Ukraine’s domestic market doesn’t trust domestic “capability,” but that these trust issues transcend to the international market.

“There are post-Soviet “trust issues,” he says, “and a need for reputation building,” emphatically stating that there is a great need for setting up a “non-Russian or post-Soviet culture” that better reflects Western mores and practices.

Nonetheless, while acknowledging that Ukraine’s IT sector is better educated than India’s and that it is more “creative,” Ukraine’s IT sector has some pronounced weaknesses.

Ukraine’s IT sector still does not have an adequate foundation or system that can properly incubate “startups.”

Though he makes the argument that Ukraine has shown immense promise in developing new ideas and products, the domestic market is weak in “brand development” and often, developers must leave the domestic market if they are to effectively develop and market their product in the international marketplace. Sadly, he says, “if a Ukrainian start-up company does attract foreign investment for their product, it oftentimes migrates out of Ukraine.”

Having identified these challenges, Digital Edge feels that it can affect Ukraine’s IT industry and its individual practitioners. Petrov justifies his presence in Ukraine believing that he can provide an opportunity for up-and-coming IT professionals to receive training and technical expertise that can be almost immediately be monetized in a western marketplace. Petrov’s vision, put simply, “We see Ukraine and want to provide Ukrainian kids with an opportunity to fulfill their ambitions through IT.”

The way he sees this happening is to develop relationships with Ukraine’s institutions. His team in Ukraine is in the process of creating bridges whereby young IT professionals can not only be identified but be provided with a mechanism of entry into the global IT world.

“We are in the process of establishing relationships with leading institutions for the purposes of not only identifying the country’s best IT practitioners but to offer them immediate opportunities to work with Western-based clients. Therefore, our goal is not only educational but to offer young Ukrainians professional opportunities in western markets, where their skill can be put to immediate and profitable use.”

Digital Edge sees a huge growth opportunity in “outsourcing” and “out staffing,” especially in banking, oil and gas, and the manufacturing sector.

By focusing on universities and establishing joint ventures, organizing open lectures to gauge the depth of interest, Digital Edge will aid in the development of curricula that will provide a knowledge base for IT professionals within a western marketplace, helping young professionals gain internationally recognized certifications that would ease their entrance into international consulting and long-term contractual employment. This effort would be further enhanced by also offering internships.

But also of major importance will be an effort to inculcate individuals with the knowledge of Western values and an ethical base that is commensurate with Western business practices and expectations. This essential part of the training will hopefully enable and energize a change of culture and even act as a “change agent” in the greater business sphere.

“Values training” that is coupled with the awareness to produce work that can be measured and meet world standards is of particular importance because it will contribute to an image that Ukrainian IT professionals can effectively and productively operate in a globalized engineering environment.

“My goal,” Petrov states as to why he wants to establish bridges in Ukraine, “is to identify individual raw IT talent, teach and create within these individuals a sound values base, harness their powers of critical thinking that meet, and even exceed, expected measurable results within established legal frameworks.”

He adds, by way of summary, “Digital Edge wants to teach and train Ukraine’s engineering labor force to be prepared to operate in a worldwide business culture, informed and led by best practices. “

In the fulfillment of such an approach, Petrov sees his contribution as one of foundation building and enhancing the image of Ukraine’s IT sector.

“We will attempt to provide exposure for Ukraine’s IT sector through practical means by giving Ukraine’s professionals an opportunity to prove their acumen in real-world situations. By building a bridge with both IT institutional players and individuals, we will be able to respond to unfulfilled market demand in the IT sector, especially in the United States”.

“By helping Ukraine’s young IT professionals through cultural business education and continual certification training, I will be providing something good for the country where I grew up. Our presence in Ukraine is to integrate Ukrainian skill into a greater global IT market.”

Source: Kyiv Post


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