13 July 2024

Ukrainian Business Aspires to Create Symbolic Projects: Insights for Leaders from Sophia Opatska

“I want to create symbolic projects”, said a Ukrainian investment fund owner who decided to build a glass manufacturing plant in Ukraine.

When Sophia Opatska mentioned this during her speech at the conference, the room fell silent. Some participants’ eyes showed emotion, and even those watching online felt a shiver of hope from this person’s vision for the future.

Sophia Opatska, PhD, founding dean and Chair of the Supervisory Board of the UCU Business School, and Vice-Rector for Strategic Development at UCU, engaged with such leaders as part of her research on crisis management in Ukrainian companies during the war. By quoting her respondents, Sophia provided examples that resonated most with the event participants because it was a moment of messages “from Leaders – through Leaders – to Leaders”. We now find inspiration in those around us:

“Work currently has a therapeutic effect – it helps people shift focus and channel their energy into what they can control and create. Individuals must work on something, achieve results, see those results, be recognized for them, and celebrate them. This is what business does. A completed sales plan, a manufactured product, a satisfied customer – all these bring positive emotions. I believe this not only provides economic benefits but also supports the physical and psychological well-being of people”.

“The communication and decision-making process has become significantly shorter. We address problems immediately and directly, making interactions more productive. Communications have become more sincere, more emotional (people aren’t afraid to cry or get angry), and faster”.

“Certain good deeds emotionally recharge me. When faced with a difficult task, I remember the men and women in extremely tough conditions right now, and it motivates me to pull myself together”.

Conclusions from Sophia Opatska:

  • We are now seeing a more human face in Ukrainian business. It exists, and we strongly desire not to lose it. It is present at all levels.
  • Human-centeredness is not just a fleeting impulse from 2022 but a Leadership approach observed over an extended period and is being reinforced. Leading by example, active constant transparent communication, delegating authority and responsibility, and giving meaning to everything that happens – these are the new tasks for Ukrainian entrepreneurs and Leaders in conditions where uncertainty and unpredictability have become the norm for millions of Ukrainians.

We thank Sophia for her inspiring speech and hope it has energized Leaders to continue their journey.