Posts by Evelina Komarnytska
For the last 2 years, I have been working in Ukrainian Startup Fund and was always passionate about innovations, seeking ways to make the startup ecosystem flourish.
At the same time, I believe that international education (I was also invited student at the University of Switzerland) can bring you so much to develop yourself not only by obtaining skills and knowledge but also as a way to improve some processes in your beloved country. Such experience shows the weaknesses and the strengths in your previous methods of working, communicating, and living at.
Last month I had the honor to study at University of Cambridge International Summer Programme by Institute of Continuing Education, and I am pleased to share my point of view on this experience after coming back to Ukraine.
Cambridge: on my way
My childhood dream was to live and study in England. As I understood that my biggest aim is to make the national tech ecosystem and Ukraine generally – stronger and better, I started to search the short-term educational programme opportunities.
That was a perfect match with a Cambridge from first sight. The procedure of applying was quite easy, but the best part of it was a live interview with the Programme Directory. During the selection interview, all of them had Ukrainian flags on their jackets. When I received the final decision of acceptance with the full scholarship – I had to insert a special code to my online application.
The code was NADIYA (hope in Eng.). This is the best to receive from Cambridge as a big gesture of support, especially when you are trying to find Hope in these difficult times; you realize that can receive it completely unexpectable from the other part of our planet.
The programme is structured into courses. Why could it be good for you? There you can find fantastic varieties of intense topics to select from: from Genetics to Business Economics and Astronomy. I chose to study more practical things, and I was completely satisfied: Business Economics, Creative Ideas and Design Thinking, Inflation and Economy, Global Marketing, and even introduction to Astronomy. The experience I gained there wholly differs from the classical University approach.
The second amazing part there – is the people. During the month you can talk with people from all over the world and understand their views on political, tech and economic issues. There were participants from 48 countries.
We are all one big family, and our world is united; people and cultures are closer than we think.
My role was to represent our country and demonstrate its resilience and strength.
I have seen again that Ukraine is a strong country: no matter what, we continue and never stop.
We are an example of how to simultaneously work, donate and hide from the shells.
We are an innovative country with easy access to the most outstanding tech decisions that simplify our daily life. I understood that we also grew up with the stereotype that we are not enough to compete with other countries. Now I am sure – all the other nations have to learn from us. Unfortunately, we have to pay too high a price for this. But it is the way to rebuild our country.
I remember clearly that there were no lectures without topics on Ukraine every day. And the audience of 600+ people during the Programme was very interested, asking many questions and participating in the discussion.
Talking about the study, it is all about practice:
During the program, you understand that your schedule is intense. Sometimes it feels like too much. But then you feel grateful for that: the team made everyday efforts to work it perfectly. We had a schedule from 7:30 AM to 8:45 PM. Before arriving, you choose the courses you prefer, which will be shown in your certificate of accomplishment in the program.
One of my favourite tutors was Andrew Hatcher – Managing Director, The Applied Knowledge Network; Mentor in Residence, Entrepreneurship Centre, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
- Andrew has a long history of identifying, developing, and managing innovative solutions within corporate environments and notably created and implemented a comprehensive and international innovation management system while working for Reuters, the European media group.
- Subsequently, working with Reuters Venture Capital, his career at the company culminated with a role as CEO of an Asian-based Internet trading corporate spin-out in Singapore which he took through initial VC funding and on to a trade sale.
- With a personal and corporate history that includes journalism, software development, project management, marketing, and strategic sales, Andrew draws on a wealth of experience in all aspects of business management gained through working internationally, predominantly in the US and UK.
- He is a Chartered Marketer and lectures on Strategic Marketing, Innovation, Metrics, and Decision Making at Cambridge Marketing Colleges. He is the author of several books in the venture industry.
What I loved the most from the intensive course with him is that it takes you through the basics of rediscovering your creativity and generating a wide range of ideas in business and life.
It is widely known that we are all born with innate powers of creativity and imagination but that we can lose our basic creative insights and confidence over time due to many societal and interpersonal structures. Working with startups every day, I could not imagine that there is a structured approach to developing a creative idea, basics of creative thinking in terms of mindset and frameworks, and a range of creative thinking approaches and stimuli.
I think that sometimes we mistakenly believe that the creative (or not) solution is the only key that brings successful outcomes. Our behaviors can be adopted to enable a broader sense of how to create appropriate responses to problems. It is essential to stimulate the genesis of an idea, critiquing it to test its robustness through to delivering the concept in reality into an appropriate context.
Dr. Calum T M Nicholson
Another panel tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education was Dr. Calum T M Nicholson, with a background of working at the UK Parliament.
- During the course Social media’s global challenge, we discussed the true economic nature & ultimate political effect of social media.
- It was interesting to understand the sense of perspective on the significance of social media as an evolution in human communication technology relative to its comparables throughout history.
I agree with the idea that role of social media is hardly surprising as it influences all the industries of our life.
I recently completed a Master’s degree in Law, and mainly working in project management in the tech industry, I was always interested in entirely new issues.
One of the courses aimed at applying Business Economics to business decision-making as it remains the key driving force in profitability. With the tutor’s expertise in international business and management, I had an opportunity to work on case studies of profit maximization in a business.
It was a unique experience to understand the forces of demand and supply and the functioning of a free market economy, for instance.
Besides this, there are plenary lectures and evening talks on the topics prepared for all of us. After all the lessons, you can talk with the professor and ask them whatever you are interested in – people are so helpful and always interested in assisting. We had discussions on the most different issues.
At the same moment, people appreciate that the program is only 4-weeks duration: which means we all want to do our best during this period. I believe that earning new things can shape our lives in the same way technologies shape the war.
Besides this, we had a lot of traditional things (England as it is): scones and tea with milk breaks, punting, organ music evenings, etc. That was the way to show that we are here not only to study but to understand the culture, unite, and have a unique experience to bring back home: contact, networks – the essential part.
My first emotions were joy and insecurity at the same time: you have to adjust to the realities of a peaceful life without air alarms. But that demonstrated to me: that we must change uncertainty into action.
Whenever we are: donate and support, enrich your skills, work hard, and it is well worth it. Such experience shows you that you can and must improve the ecosystem by starting on your own.
It is no doubt that now Ukrainians live a completely different life. But I do believe that we play a central role in the global ecosystem, proving that our technology sector is the one to follow. We have to stay in the first place in a huge social, educational, and global network.
By studying abroad, we can keep attention to the events taking place in our country.
Starting from the Covid-times, our lives are adjustable online: studying, communicating, and working most online. But these difficult times demonstrated the importance of online and offline efforts. Scrolling news in media can be annoying, but personal talk can stay with us for a long afterward.
Being part of the international community, we can share critical facts in person. It works as an ‘invisible hand’: people understand, repeat the facts to others, and spread the word.
It was also an exciting story once. UK Journalist, based in Cambridge, was working on the article about the Programme Feedback. After a few minutes of our face-to-face conversation, she heard that I am Ukrainian, and her reaction was something. ‘It is like I found a treasure, – she said. It was so important for her to hear how Ukrainian people feel here. Is it comfortable enough, and what can they do together with the international community to support us? At that moment, I felt nothing but gratitude.
It is going to be the University: 100 years of the Program next summer. I could not believe that, because tutors and staff there amazingly combine modern and innovative ideas with classical and traditional ones.
I understood that such experience brings you high motivation to work more, improve some methods and implement gained skills in practice. Plus: total understanding of how unique and amazing we are.
Ukrainians can do 5 things at the same time and don’t even be in a rush. I like that most.
Honestly, I felt that sock: they had expectations about Ukrainian, and I believe – we can show how strong we are. They can not believe that we continue to work. With an immense passion, I always tell everyone what I am dealing with in the Ukrainian Startup Fund our projects, activities, and plans. How do we arrange delegations all over the world and never stop? I am sure – we have to prove our strengths not only by words but also by our actions. We are unique and ready to build a competitive environment.
You don’t have to rely on someone, wait for the perfect moment, or be afraid, that you are not good enough. We don’t have to be afraid to try, to explore our world. If we can only realize: that our planet offers us an uncountable amount of opportunities to everyone who is reading this. Now we have demonstrated that we are brave, strong, and can adjust to any possible way. So it is a moment to ‘invest’ in our country by investing in yourself.
Encourage someone who does not believe in themselves, show them in your example – and together, we will make Ukraine the capital of innovations.
Evelina Komarnytska, Head of Grant Programs at Ukrainian Startup Fund