Before the war started, Anthill was quickly expanding in Ukraine as part of our mission to develop human capital across Central and Eastern Europe. However, the events in the past few months turned the lives of our team members there upside down. Since the very beginning of this humanitarian crisis, we have been collaborating with our colleagues in Ukraine to provide them with all resources needed to bring their families to safety.
Yet, we need to do more. We need to continue talking about the negative impact this has on Ukrainian and European citizens. To tell the stories of those affected. Until it stops.
So, today, we’re going to meet you with our Delivery Manager Anton Vidishchev, a great human being and IT professional who had to relocate to Sofia at the end of February and has been trying to adapt to life here ever since.
Let’s start with your personal story – can you walk us through your career journey so far and why you chose to work in the IT industry in the first place?
Becoming an IT person was a no-brainer for me. It just happened as I’ve always been interested in everything related to technology. From computer games when I was a kid to writing programs to do things for me later. I also loved doing math and I seemed to be good at it, so back in 1998, I started studying Applied Mathematics at Odesa’s National University.
After I graduated, I became a trainer in a software development academy – I was teaching web development, C++, C#, PHP. This is how my IT career started – over the years, I did some freelance before joining bigger companies and leading engineering teams there.
I managed to see first hand how the entire IT sector in Ukraine was born and evolved to become one of the biggest industries in the country.
After 20 years in the sector, you joined Anthill as a CTO in Ukraine – why?
Well, the mindset of Anthill’s management team was very similar.
When I met the people it was important to understand who my potential partners are and how easy it is going to be to collaborate with them. I got attracted by the idea that we are planning to build something big.
Ambition is a big personal motivator for me. I will stay excited if I see that there are challenges in front of me and enough space to grow and improve.
Right now, our business is doing very well – we just closed a very big customer, so we need to grow super fast, and build sustainable operations. If we’re successful, we’d hire over 100 people in the next couple of years.
Following the start of the war you came to Bulgaria – how are you currently feeling and adapting?
I was on a business trip in Munich, from the 22nd to the 25th of February. And the full scale invasion of Russia started on the 24th. So, I got caught by the war in Germany, having just a small bag of personal belongings with me.
I couldn’t believe my eyes that this was really happening. We changed the flights, I came to Sofia, and started building a plan on how to bring my family here.
This became possible with the help of Anthill and BICA, who were actually helping many employees and bringing their families to safety.
So, me and my family – we are currently figuring out our way of living in Bulgaria.
We love the country but we still feel very unsafe. Because, in my opinion, Ukraine is now a shield for the entire Europe. There is a cruel aggressor who will not stop. We’d be safe only when Ukraine wins this war. Before that, none of us in Europe can feel absolutely safe.
How do you think the war will affect the IT landscape in Europe?
The war would hurt the entire economy, including the IT sector.
When society could instead concentrate on making the world better, all the countries have to now spend billions of dollars to stop Russia. Later, more billions of dollars will have to be invested in renovation because some of the cities in Ukraine were pretty much destroyed.
Humanity had much more important problems to solve in 2022. We could think about how to fight cancer or terraform Mars, or many things like that. But instead, we’re back to the medieval times.
When it comes to the IT sector, there’d be a lot of turbulence, because as you know Ukraine is very big in outsourcing. I believe that close to 250, 000 IT specialists used to work in the country. Many people and companies relied on the services that they provided. A lot of businesses were already affected somehow and had to change their KPIs or to delay software shipments.
What is the most important lesson you learned from the situation in Ukraine?
I think that what the situation in Ukraine has taught me is that you need to really value what you have now and enjoy the moment.
Because, you know, while we are in the everyday routine, you don’t really pay attention to what you have. You don’t really capture the moment that you’re actually happy now, and that your life is great.
When everything changes overnight, you really start reassessing the things and seeing them in perspective. So this is what happened to me and to many other people in Ukraine.