Software provider brightfin, which is based in Englewood, let go of 57 Ukrainian employees in mid-May as Russia continued its onslaught of the eastern European nation.
However, for one of the 140 remaining Ukrainian workers, the full-time job is a reprieve from the war and a symbol of hope for the future.
Kateryna Kychygina, or Кичигіна Катерина Дмитрівна, works as a 26-year-old product owner at brightfin. The company, which lists its big-name clients as Adidas AG, Nike Inc., Siemens AG, the U.S. State Department, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and more, is a subscription-based software provider that helps companies manage IT assets and expenses.
Born in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, Kychygina moved to Kyiv at age 18 for university, and has remained there since — even when Russian forces stormed her country.
During the first days of the invasion, which Russia launched on Feb. 24, “my ordinary life changed once and forever,” Kychygina wrote in an email. “I couldn’t work fully, as the air bombs were targeted on Kyiv. We spent a lot of hours and even days in bomb shelters.”
Kychygina’s boyfriend joined the Territorial Defence Forces in Ukraine’s capital city on the second day, while she began her own volunteer work: helping others evacuate, and aiding with food, medical supplies and military equipment.
“Every time you go to ‘bed,’ you actually aren’t sure if you are going to wake up,” Kychygina said, noting the fear she felt hearing explosions, particularly at night. However, as the weeks went by, she said she got her schedule up and running by spending the first half of her day volunteering and the second half of it working.
“Even during war time, I was able to get a promotion at brightfin, so I am sure about my future in this company, and in my country,” she said. Now, on the fourth month of the war, her job “still helps me to get away from news and be sure about my future and every Ukrainians’ future.”
On May 18, brightfin leadership fired dozens of Ukrainian employees, as “the ongoing Russian invasion has forced us to reduce our team in Ukraine by 30%,” chief marketing officer Keith Jensen said. “Without an end in sight for the invasion, we simply could not afford to keep 100% of our Ukrainian team while also employing the additional team members in other countries.”
Jensen said, upon the start of the Russian invasion, many of brightfin’s international clients required the company to utilize resources outside of Ukraine. He pointed to the implementation of “a business continuity plan by hiring additional team members in other countries including the United States.”
However, “Ukraine will continue to be a strategic hub for brightfin,” Jensen added, pointing to its technology-focused resources.
He said severance packages were provided to all the workers who were let go, and they were encouraged to reapply as positions open in the future. “The reduction in force was an incredibly difficult decision and one that we never wanted to make,” he said in an email.
The company employs more than 300, and its current job postings include 12 roles available in the U.S. or Philippines, with some identified as remote positions. Compensation for U.S. jobs can vary between $50,000 for a logistics delivery lead to $250,000 for an enterprise account executive, depending on experience.
“Even with the cuts, we have more Ukrainian team members employed today than we did one year ago and have no plans for any additional reductions in force,” Jensen said. “We continue to hope for peace and are inspired by the grit and strength of the Ukrainian people.”
Kychygina highlighted her gratitude to not only her employer, but also for the backing of the international community.
“We still feel every message of support — it gives us inspiration and courage to continue fighting for our lives,” she said. “Ukraine will win and rebuild everything that Russia destroyed with such help and support behind our backs.”
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