How Ukrainian IT specialists are helping their country during the war: Stories of people at Wirex R&D

On the 24th February, the Russian military invasion of Ukraine divided the lives of Ukrainians into “before” and “after,” including the peaceful life of the teammates of Wirex R&D. The company started to evacuate co-workers into safe places in Western Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania. But not everyone was ready to leave their homes and their loved ones, so men and women of the company responded to the call of duty and joined their forces for a shared victory. Every citizen of the state is helping as much as they can – some contribute financially, some have started weaving camouflage nets, some have entered the volunteer movement, and some have joined the Territorial Defence Units and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.   

The company collected the stories of six members of the Wirex R&D team, who worked on cutting-edge fintech products in peacetime. As the war came, Wirexers have started to defend their homeland and provided a reliable foundation for Ukrainian fighters. To ensure we don’t endanger the team members, we’ve removed the last names of soldiers and volunteers and the information about the battalions they serve in. 

Sergiy, Compliance AML Analyst  

I joined the Territorial Defence Unit by accident. I just want to contribute to this community, so I’ve brought some gasoline, oil and bottles to the defenders. There I’ve met friends and locals who wanted to resist, to live in a free country, consolidating the community’s efforts, helping the state, not expecting anything from it. That’s how a desire to be part of this movement came. 

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I had no military training at all. I believed that the issue of the full-scale war was not relevant in Europe in the 21st century. 

My case is not about heroism; I’m in a liaison department – our part of the team is like emergency service operators. The most challenging thing is to decide on further actions in connection with the checkpoints, to remain calm when you hear that the person on the other end of the line is starting to worry. 

While the answer in the moment might not always be clear, one thing I can say confidently and without hesitation is that I have complete belief in Ukraine’s victory. 

Talking about the skills I acquired in peacetime, communicative and organisational skills are the most universal and helpful. We do not have questions of motivation; the best team building is to unite against a common external problem. We also have a clear understanding of sometimes nerve-wracking situations and the need for support. 

Speaking about the return to a peaceful life, after the victory over the enemy, I will definitely join the reconstruction movement of our country. 

Kateryna, Copywriter 

As the war began, I found myself in a small town in the Volyn region. I had no idea about what I needed, where to go, and what to do. But I had to do something. On March 1, it was my birthday, so I took the opportunity to collect UAH 12,300 for the occasion. I spent part of this money on medicine – everything accessible in Rivne I brought to the local Territorial Defence Unit. I used the remaining funds to purchase socks and warm hats that I sent for the Kyiv Unit.

At the request of the guys from the TrDU (Territorial Defence Unit), we have also set up a sewing craft station at home and produced almost 50 Ukrainian flags. It’s turned out to be a valuable item during the war, and our friend in the capital has already received all of these packages. 

We are volunteering with my ex, so now we have divided the spheres. Now, my ex-partner is looking for watches and dryers (it’s all for TrDU, his father serves there), and I’ve joined the girls who weave camouflage nets. I jokingly say that I’ve joined the Rivne camouflage troops. This super helpful but straightforward job is a win-win: our guys will have nets, and I will at least feel calm while cutting the strips. 

As for the complicated and easy things – it is difficult to find something in short supply, especially in a small town. It is challenging to look for cash – who uses it anymore? But the most challenging thing is doing nothing. I had a couple of days of ill health; it felt like a punishment. 

The skills I’ve acquired in peacetime have helped me so much! In the early days, when there was a hope to get in touch with Russians, I wrote a text and sent it to my friends. It was a terse reasoned appeal, without defining the culprits, but with a request to think and at least do something. With this text, we spammed various open public forums in the Russian Federation.  

We even contacted one Russian citizen and still correspond with him, calling this man “our pocket Russian”. He started with swearing, then felt contradicted; now he actively questions what the truth is. Even if one person does not take up arms to go to our land – I think it will be a small victory. And it all started with the written word. 

My writing skills have given me an avenue to help raise money and connect with others. Understanding communication software has also come in handy, especially when there is a need to interview locals and learn new and important information and experiences.  

Among the observations, I can say that the basic principles of teamwork in peacetime and wartime are the same – certain people have a committed viewpoint based on knowledge and experience. We then look to these people to lead us and others trust them with their time or resources. Everything works in synergy. I’m delighted to see such a strong unity during the war, even amongst people that I’ve met for the first time. 

After the Ukrainian victory, I 100% know that I’ll cry with happiness, hastily pack up, and return home. I will wash my hair with Kerastase, not Clean and Clear 8 in 1, take a day off, and go to my Mum. 🇺🇦 

Denys, Back End QA Engineer (B2C) 

I decided to join the Territorial Defence Unit because it is our land, our people. Also, we’ve studied history, so we know what will start if the Russians rule here. For this reason, there’s no going back now, and I need to support the frontline in any way possible.  

I studied at the military department in peacetime, so I have already have a basic knowledge of such affairs. I can shoot, handle weapons and provide first aid. Everything I learned there is really helpful in all spheres of military life. 

Currently, I am the coordinator of one of the battalions. I’ve established lines of communication with volunteers in various areas and organised a warehouse for humanitarian aid. We provide ourselves with medicines, food, warm clothes, etc. We assist civilians, especially the elderly and children. Honestly, the last thing you want to see is how grateful people are for a package of food, baby food, or warm things. A group of evacuees arrived from Irpin today. We dressed them, so we took the rest of the items to the Red Cross. Food, diapers, medicine, everything you needed. All this is tough to see. 

Today was the first day I went to rest at 21.00; thanks to all my team who helped me to relieve the load – everyone is already working as a coordinated mechanism. Although we are all very exhausted, we are in the mood to do everything possible so that if the Russians come here, they will feel all 1000% of Ukrainian sincerity. 

In addition, I deal with communications and engineering support, so everyone from our battalion was supplied with walkie-talkies and always could be in touch with each other. Now, I’m trying to get DMR walkie-talkies to establish radio communications over a secure channel for long distances. It’s hard, but we, the QA, learn quickly. Ukrainians remain motivated every day to fight for out land and freedom. 

The basic principles of SMART and agile are beneficial for being effective, but sometimes, we have to explain that there are discipline and orders. 

After our victory, I want to rest and see my parents in Odesa; we worry about being so far away. That is how we live, helping each other and preparing to defend our home because we are all brothers of the Cossack family.

Dmytro, System Administrator 

I joined the Territorial Defence Unit because I adore my country. Before the war, I served in the Internal Troops (now the National Guard). And in 2005, I swore allegiance to the country and the people. 

I am currently in the Communications department. Our team is involved with strengthening positions. We are welding metal hedgehogs to blockade the road, and have been to the warehouses for fabric to deliver it to the studio to sew bulletproof vests. Our biggest task is to equip the headquarters with communication and the Internet. I personally oversee the CCTV server, LAN, Wi-Fi, etc. 🙂 Since everything is complicated here, the only thing that saves the situation at this moment is 4G. 

Of course, the skills I gained in peacetime are in great demand. In Wirex, I had the opportunity to work with many modern technologies that I never dreamed of. There are no difficulties as such, except for the concern I feel for my family. 

Discipline is essential here; it’s a war. Therefore, it is a sin to complain about something. Everyone is friendly. 

After the war, I plan to return to my family, my job and to a peaceful life. I will catch up with the gaps in my professional development. I hope the victory will come soon and I’ll keep up with our team. 

Honestly, I missed everyone even more than during quarantine and have started to appreciate even more what I had before 🤗  

Vlas, Domain Coordinator 

I have joined the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine because I want a peaceful sky to reign over our country. I hope that if people go abroad, it is because they want to, not out of fear for their lives.  

Before now, I had not undergone military training. In fact, the Armed Forces need many specialists in various fields, including IT. Being a pacifist myself, I feel that military training is justified in this case. You can really see how our Armed Forces are prepared and how they work. So, I have decided to become like another drop in the ocean or one of those straws that will break a camel’s back. 

In the Armed Forces, I work within communications as a signalman who ensures stable and secure communication. It hasn’t taken me long to receive my first task. The hardest thing is the inability to be close to loved ones; everything else I can overcome. 

In general, I have a very diverse range of knowledge: English, German, Polish, construction, engineering, network administration, management. Each of these is a skill I can apply here. 

As for teamwork in wartime and peacetime, the hierarchical military sphere looks very different than one might imagine. However, cooperation with comrades works on the same principles, plus a strong desire to drive the adversary out of our territory as soon as possible, and to minimise casualties, especially among civilians. 

After our victory, I will return to completing projects and starting new ones. Of course, I will do this while I am with my family. And maybe I will continue my blog in Telegram. I recently launched it to give people as much information as possible about what and how I am going through. There is a lot of conflicting information on the Internet, and many aspects are in the shadows, so I try to be objective. 

Mykhailo, Back End Developer (B2C) 

Joining the Armed Forces of Ukraine is not a decision but a duty, although I haven’t had military training before. I can’t reveal the details of my current tasks, but the hardest thing at that moment is that I’m far away from my family. 

Although my professional skills are not currently used, the ability to learn new things quickly and adapt existing knowledge is instrumental in military conditions. 

Now the whole country stands behind each other more than ever: we are not just one team, but one big family. 

After the victory, I will hold close in my memory those who were taken away from us by this Russian war. 

Glory to Ukraine!

Via Wirex, a leading global fintech company that developed one of the first payment platforms allowing customers to use digital and traditional currencies seamlessly in a single app. The company’s R&D centre is located in Kyiv, Ukraine. With the help of more than 250 professionals, the company serves over 4.5 million clients worldwide, empowering people to enjoy the advantages of a world where all currencies are equal.


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