N-iX supports Ukraine army after relocating 600 employees from danger

An interview with N-iX CEO Andrew Pavliv offers an inside look at the hectic strategizing, support and extensive funding carried out by the software development company in light of the war in Ukraine

 N-iX workers in the office (photo credit: N-iX)
N-iX workers in the office
(photo credit: N-iX)

For the past several years, operating an international company based in Ukraine has meant carefully maintaining a plan for a Russian invasion. As Russian aggression ramped up over the past decade, CEOs of tech companies throughout the country spent significant time and resources preparing for the worst, and this February it paid off as Russian infantry, artillery and missile fire landed on Ukrainian soil.

Andrew Pavliv is one such CEO: thanks to extensive forethought, his software development company N-iX has not only managed to produce enough output to maintain all of its international clients, but it has also evacuated nearly 600 employees from affected territories in the eastern-European nation, providing them with temporary housing, transportation, necessities and financial aid via the creation of a relocation fund. As well, the 20-year-old company has donated over $1 million to various causes in support of peace in the embattled country.

“We’ve been running through BCPs (Business Continuity Plans) since 2014. I'm happy that none of them were executed at that time, but we were prepared,” said Pavliv in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Over the years, those BCPs were updated to ensure the company could maintain access to electricity, running water and the internet.

“We’ve been running through BCPs (Business Continuity Plans) since 2014. I'm happy that none of them were executed at that time, but we were prepared.”

Andrew Pavliv

In the Autumn of 2021, the BCP process got very serious very quickly. “In October we started to worry because of the [increasingly foreboding] news. We were expecting that something would happen and within our company’s strategy group, we were continuously thinking about what we would do, analyzing scenarios about how the invasion could happen,” the CEO said.

Pavliv recalled conversations that sounded more suited to military strategists than tech company executives. “In our plan, we bet that the invasion would probably start from the East, and that our employees who are in the East would be in the most danger,” he said. “We didn't expect that Kyiv would be in the same danger.”

 N-iX CEO Andrew Pavliv (credit: N-iX) N-iX CEO Andrew Pavliv (credit: N-iX)

He described the measures taken by N-iX’s management to ensure the safety of their employees; particularly those who were closest to danger, by their reasoning. “We have like 200 people in total who are near the Dnieper river, closer to Russia,” Pavliv said.

“We warned them maybe two or even three weeks before the invasion started: ‘guys, we as a company recommend that you move — and we will help you. You can move to either Kyiv or Western Ukraine like Lviv or even Ivano-Frankivsk where we have offices. It's better to find accommodation for you now, because if something happens it will be much more crowded and much harder to do,’” Pavliv recalled. “Only a handful of people actually did.”

Their employees picked up the pace on the weekend that Putin declared Ukraine as Russian territory. “On Friday, he made a declaration … It was a clear sign for us that the invasion was going to start. We started to call our employees in the East. We told them ‘Now we are not just recommending: if you want to really be safe, just move to West Ukraine.’”

When Russia invaded Ukraine, the company plan went into action

On the morning of the 24th of February, as Russia invaded Ukraine’s borders, N-iX’s continuity plan went into full action. The company launched the relocation of its endangered employees from the East to the West, with the ultimate plan of moving everyone to Poland if possible. “That was our plan for our employees — and our employees are the biggest value we have at the company, so they’re safety shot to the first place in priorities immediately,” Pavliv said.

Relocation was only the first part of the plan: once everyone was safe, the next goal was to maintain the operation of the business. “I had a meeting with my team and told them ‘Our clients will not drop us if we deliver,’” Pavilv said.

He explained that there were certainly times when the company’s production was forced to be put on hold, but thanks to careful management the company has not lost a single client as a result of the war — in fact, the company has present plans to continue growing.

“We continue to grow and we continue our focus to be a global company,” said Pavliv. “Looking to the future, we expect that when the war finishes, we will see migration from Ukrainian professionals to other European countries, maybe about 10-20% of people will move, so we’re working on making sure people can work at our company but not from Ukraine.”

At present, the company is still working hard, though it is constantly reiterating its BCPs to reflect current threats posed by the ongoing conflict. Alongside delivering for its clientele, N-iX has turned its focus toward supplying the Ukraine Armed Forces with equipment and funding the operations team of the Come Back Alive foundation, which provides support to service members in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

“After the war started, they raised a lot of money, but they were all volunteers,” Pavliv elaborated. “We told them ‘Okay, on a volunteering basis, it will not work really, you need to have a management team and stuff like that,’ so we now finance that part of their fund. They’re doing a lot of good work.”