Vasyl describes one of his first encounters with the Swedish Institute Management Programme (SIMP), which he attended in 2008, as stepping into a Jack London novel.
-We were on this nature trip to Kiruna. We left the plane, got on dog sleds, and were transported through the wilderness to a hotel built of ice. To me it was like seeing the wilderness of Jack London’s books. It was an experience you can never forget.’
Today, Vasyl is a successful public affairs consultant with clients such as Google and Uber. He works hard to keep it a sustainable business. At his business they do what they can for inclusion and diversity, working on it both internally and externally.
-We currently manage a project that educates Ukrainian business executives about inclusion and diversity. We also try to work for inclusion of people with disabilities, who have been largely hidden in our society. Last year we hired two receptionists at our office, one who uses a wheelchair and one who is visually impaired. They both work from home and use technology to do all the chores such as answering phones and opening doors and so on.’
Vasyl was always interested in civil activism and have always had an eye on a political career. As an undergraduate, he was one of the founders of the European Youth Parliament, which promoted European integration and educated people about the EU.
-So far, I haven’t taken the step full out into politics, but I have remained with civil activism and helped set up several NGOs, including the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre (UCMC) during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. The centre worked to gather non-biased information and pass it on to international media.’
Considering that Vasyl has always had one foot in business and one foot in civil activism, the SIMP programme fitted him like a glove.
-I would say it is one of the best programmes out there. I found it rewarding in terms of appreciating everything Sweden is about. There was a business component, a cultural component, and then great interaction between the interesting people. It was very well packaged, especially with the four different modules. The time in our home countries between the modules allowed us to develop new ideas and new ways of thinking before the next module.’
Through the programme, Vasyl got to study leadership and leadership roles, a favoured topic. But he also got other insights and help from the programme.
-My team had a pharmaceutical client that we helped come up with a strategy for entering the Ukrainian market. This experience taught me the basics of that industry and I also learned how to deal with different stakeholders. Having this real-life client helped me years later as I advised a few pharmaceutical companies in Ukraine. I could use the client experience from the programme in Sweden.’
Vasyl still benefits from SI’s Alumni network. He attends reunions and conferences and does his part to keep the network active.
-Staying in touch is both a pleasure and good for business. I have worked with alumni both on reforms in the Ukraine and on business collaborations. And I have been in touch with two Swedish university professors since the programme who have also helped me in my work.’