Ukraine crisis: Kyiv-based Israeli tech workers relocate amid tensions

Aliona Bekariuk: “You hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

 EverC's office in Kyiv, Ukraine, in January 2021. (photo credit: PR)
EverC's office in Kyiv, Ukraine, in January 2021.
(photo credit: PR)

Israeli hi-tech companies that employ or outsource their work to Ukraine are scrambling to put together contingency plans as tensions mount on the Eastern European country’s border. Many are resorting to relocation.

At the beginning of the week, cyber risk management platform EverC offered their Ukraine-based team members and their close families immediate evacuation to Poland, with virtual cards generated as an alternative payment method to the banking system in case of a shutdown. All team members were invited to participate in an Emotional Support workshop led by a local psychologist

“Unfortunately, our Ukrainian team members have been experiencing a complex reality for some time now," said Ilanit Shtrauchler, EverC's VP HR. "Over the last few days, there was an increased sense of urgency and a concern that the situation may escalate soon. With our team members and their families in mind, we've decided to take a few quick actions to enable a somewhat regular day-to-day routine while maintaining business continuity."

Aliona Bekariuk, currently residing in Kyiv, is the senior risk operation team leader at EverC. Her team has begun relocating to Warsaw as of Sunday, as the hope for a diplomatic resolution contends with the fear of a more explosive outcome.

“Our Kyiv office has been offered several options: to relocate to Warsaw – a lot of people from my team are there and are still going – or to relocate to other locations, other Western cities in Ukraine or other countries elsewhere. Wherever we can get the tickets, because it’s tough getting the tickets anywhere right now.”

How much of the team has opted to take those offers? What are you going to do?

“Much of my team, like 50% of them, have already left Kyiv. There are some people still here, and I’m staying here with them to make sure they’re not alone and supporting them in any way I can. I’m not planning to leave Ukraine, personally. I hope that diplomacy prevails, and nothing bad is going to happen.

 Aliona Bekariuk, senior risk operation team leader at EverC. (credit: PR) Aliona Bekariuk, senior risk operation team leader at EverC. (credit: PR)

“If anything does, I have friends with houses outside of the big cities, so I have places to stay. It brings me much comfort that I have some financial support and that my company will cover for me and help me if anything happens.”

Has this move been difficult to manage, both logistically and emotionally?

“Everything has been organized very well. As a team leader, I’ve been very active, calling the people, making sure everyone is alright, everyone is aware of what their options are and making sure they are not, you know, panicky, and they are aware that they have some options that they have some safe options.

“Our company and I are here for them to do whatever we can in these unprecedented times. There is not any sort of rulebook as to whatever we can do. But we are doing our best.

“If we are talking about the stress levels, it depends from person to person, how they are involved, what their views are about this whole situation, their families and stuff like that. The connection with the family is the most important thing in Ukraine. I think in Israel it’s the same.

“Overall, everyone is hopeful, this is all I can say. Everyone is hopeful that nothing bad is going to happen, but you know what they say: You hope for the best, prepare for the worst. This is the wisest approach you can take and it’s exactly what we did. We hope nothing bad is going to happen, we try to stay positive.

“I always try to encourage my team to take care of themselves, to stay safe, to have some plans in place in case things go south, but to try to keep some routines, to keep them sane, because this is the only thing that is going to eventually help us out in the situation.”

Besides the obvious headache of splitting up across several cities and countries, has the team culture suffered at all?

“It’s more or less stable. We still go to brunches, we celebrate birthdays, we go skiing, you know, we try to live normal lives. Of course, there is a looming shadow of something that might happen, but we’re not letting it ruin our days. We’re still worried. It’s like, sure, something bad might happen but what about my responsibilities? I want to have something to ground myself.”