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How did the war affect the CodeLions' work – interview with Volodymyr Dudas, the company's CEO

The full-scale russian invasion and war have affected the lives of every Ukrainian and continue to leave a bloody mark every day. Our company, like everyone else, had to react quickly and adapt to new realities. Despite everything, we have persevered and continue to grow and develop. Volodymyr Dudas, the company's CEO, told about the CodeLions path during the war in an interview.

How did the war affect the company's work?

The company withstood this difficult time for the whole country and resumed the workflow as quickly as possible. After all, CodeLions was preparing for various scenarios and reactions to them long before russia's full-scale invasion of sovereign Ukraine. We took all possible measures to ensure the safety of the entire team, which was located in different parts of Ukraine. So most of the employees continued to provide service from safe places the next day. Of course, there were some surprises. Several projects were on the verge of termination, one had to be suspended, and several new ones were stopped and canceled in the last step before starting work on them.

There have been no drastic changes in the organization of the work process. Thanks to the past Covid period, we quickly moved into full online coordination of the whole team. Daily, weekly and monthly meetings have only improved engagement and communication efficiency. Now the office is open, so everyone can attend it whenever they are willing to.

Of course, there are some adjustments - we often postpone calls in case of air alarms or other dangers to our colleagues. Some had Internet outages, so we temporarily had to use other channels to resolve the issue.

Can the company provide stable work as before the war?

Yes. Thanks to the cohesion, inclusion, flexibility of the team, and daily communication, we were able to reformat, involve people and expand existing collaborations. The incredible efforts of the management team helped stabilize the situation and not only restore all projects but also add 2 new ones within a month. The company has strengthened, exceeded all projected figures, and continues to grow.

How did the company limit itself from Russian resources? Did this have any consequences?

CodeLions is a completely Ukrainian company without any Russian project behind it.

The company diversified its projects between European and American markets a long time ago. Also, we hire only Ukrainian specialists to support and develop the Ukrainian economy. The strong position of the company and its team saved us from shocks during the crisis of 2020-2022.

How does the company help?

In addition to providing our services to customers, the CodeLions team has participated in many initiatives both from the company and on its own. In particular, we are helping refugees and our defenders, sharing information about events in Ukraine to English-speaking audiences, fighting fakes, participating in the IT army, and involving all our clients and acquaintances from other countries to help Ukraine fight for the free future.

Since the beginning of hostilities, employees together with the company have donated 400,000 UAH to charity and military aid. This amount continues to grow every day. Our employees were involved in raising funds for various essentials for our defenders, including thermal imagers, walkie-talkies, body armor, cars, and airplanes.

The company also paid all possible taxes to state accounts in advance, which amounted to at least 70,000 UAH last month. We will continue this trend so that funds come to government accounts faster. Our team has also discovered military IGLBs. We have already invested some money in this financial assistance mechanism, and encourage others to do the same.

In addition, the company launched an initiative to support the local business of our colleagues. More than 100 thousand UAH were allocated only last month. We have already noticed positive effects, and we will continue to support our defenders as well as the state's economy as much as we can.

What is the position of the company?

We have chosen a fairly clear position in the current situation - To continue to do what we are professionals in - information services to be able to help our team, our defenders, and our country, both materially and humanitarian.

Does the company run an information campaign?

Of course. Every day we tell the world the truth about the situation in Ukraine and the crimes of russian troops in our country, fight disinformation, and fakes on social networks.

What difficulties arose with the beginning of the war?

I think that the first difficulty since the beginning of the war is the inability to predict the course of events. That is why my team and I are developing a plan for different scenarios and keeping an ear to the ground.

For now, I can assure you that difficulties happen all the time and external instability only exacerbates and highlights the already known problems in the company. Our task is to detect, prevent, and minimize them. This is the daily work of any manager, and therefore it requires perseverance and patience. I wish everyone to overcome life and professional difficulties successfully. Let’s develop Ukraine together.

Did the company face financial difficulties?

Fortunately, our pessimistic predictions did not come true, and the company did not have significant financial difficulties. Thanks to the involvement of the whole team, it was possible to increase the number of projects and expand existing ones.

Thanks to the experience of previous years, we have managed to prepare for most scenarios, and now we continue to plan the life of the company for several months ahead.

Despite the external circumstances, the company was able to exceed expectations and end the quarter with a significant surplus in profits, which was distributed to help the army and our team.

How does the company support its employees? What happened to salary payments? Did you have to fire someone?

Our team has always been our priority, which is why firing was out of the question, especially in times of trouble. We try to support everyone, take care of people's emotional and psychological health, and try to be as helpful as possible to each other.

We have added 1-2-1 calls and daily online meetings with all team members, which all who need it can join. We also hired a psychologist for additional advice on methods and approaches to overcoming stress and maintaining a state of recovery. In addition, English classes were resumed, I think it also helps distract and reboot. We periodically collect feedback and new ideas from the team.

Wage payments were not delayed in any way. No wage delays, as well as firing due to the military situation, are expected.

Were all employees able to continue their work? Are they safe now?

90% of employees were able to resume their work on Monday, February 28. By the end of March, we were able to resume cooperation with all colleagues. The situation with our team members from Kyiv was especially difficult, but we are happy that we managed to solve everything and ensure their safety.

Today, the whole team is safe. We constantly communicate with colleagues who may be at risk and try to help them move if they wish.

Two of the employees are now defending Motherland, and we are proud of that.

Are you looking for new employees now?

CodeLions is constantly on the lookout for new talent. We always stand for growing and developing! Especially during the war, we want to attract colleagues from the IT industry from other regions, who, unfortunately, were forced to leave their homes.

Some companies suffer from the shutdown of many projects, so we are also developing subcontracting, involving their people in our projects, and minimizing the number of laid-off professionals, thus increasing taxes paid to the state.

I am confident that our economy will be able to stabilize and develop further with this approach.

Has it become more difficult to find candidates?

At the moment, we do not see great difficulties in finding new talents. We continue to consider and recruit new specialists to our company and look forward to recommendations. By the way, we have a bonus for recommendations, so we will be happy for new offers at [email protected]

How did customers react to the situation in Ukraine?

All clients, without exception, expressed their support in our struggle for freedom and democratic values. We sent them information on how to help Ukraine. Many of them joined in fundraising for humanitarian and defense purposes. Someone has even called on their products to help Ukraine or offered us a relocation to their countries. Absolutely everyone is delighted with the resilience of our people and our team. But for us, of course, the biggest support is that they stayed with us.

Are new projects appearing, and do customers trust you?

We continue to attract new projects and have had some success in this - plus two clients last month. Now the main challenge for us, as well as for other entirely Ukrainian businesses is the conviction of a client in our stability against the background of the dynamic situation in our country. Frankly, this is a difficult task.

We do not have problems with the trust of existing customers, but new ones are not in a hurry with solutions. Despite this, we do not give up and continue to encourage customers to help our country, both direct and indirect - through cooperation with Ukrainian businesses such as ours.

Is the work productive now? Are there any problems with concentration?

We noticed an increase in productivity and speed of doing tasks in the team. Of course, some of our colleagues, as well as me, have problems with concentration from time to time, especially after some terrible news, that is normal. We are all human beings, and we are going through these difficult times in our way. Our approach to this is communication in common meetings and support of each other. By the way, Pomodoro practice works well for me. Some on the team tried it too.

What helps maintain your emotional state?

My team and faith in the victory of Ukraine and its beautiful future. I am confident that these trials will only make us stronger and give us an even greater understanding of the importance of our values, our freedom, and our future.

People are our most valuable capital and strength. Ukrainians are very resourceful, intelligent, and strong-minded people. I am inspired by the strength and indomitable spirit of our people. It gives me the inspiration to move forward and develop our country together.

What are the company's plans for the future?

The company has very ambitious plans for the current and next year, as well as the next 5-10 years. Despite the war in our country, we continue to carry out our planning thanks to our team and customers. The company will definitely develop and expand its team of specialists shortly. We also plan to enter new markets and areas of digital product development.

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