Yulia Koroleva is responsible for the business strategy of Code Inspiration – an international custom software development company, recognized as Best IT Outsourcing Consultancy in Eastern Europe by the European Enterprise Awards in 2021. An international lawyer by diploma and CBDO with more than 10 years of experience working in B2B. Negotiations, consulting in the formation of software development strategies, and teams for our clients are a part of her daily work. Her knowledge of 5 languages provides her with a possibility to speak and understand people, usually communicating with them in their native language. Being an official member of Forbes Business Development Council Yulia enjoys contributing to the international community using her articles, giving interviews, and sharing experience regarding IT outsourcing on multiple platforms.
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We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to Valiant CEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Yulia Koroleva: My name is Yulia, I’m Chief Business Development Officer at Code Inspiration – an international custom software development and consulting company from Poland. The company was recognized as Best IT Outsourcing Consultancy in Eastern Europe by European Enterprise Awards in 2021. Every day I communicate with customers, discussing multiple issues from ongoing tasks to the formation of a long-term software development strategies. Thanks to my knowledge of 5 languages I can speak and understand people using their native one. I have become a member of the Forbes Business Development Council recently. With Forbes, I share expertise and benefit to the development of a global IT community.
Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life and how did they impact you? How did that lead to where you are today?
Yulia Koroleva: Definitely those who convinced me that I would fail. At the very beginning of my career, it was my father who didn’t support my idea to create a website for his local business in Belarus when the internet was in its nascent stage there. However the website was successful and benefited the development of his business, so he changed his opinion and I grew as a professional. When I started my career in the IT sector, there was a colleague who assured me that my mindset is not suitable to work in IT. As a result, I became an executive at Code Inspiration software development company.
There was also one case, a couple of years ago, when my colleague who was responsible for writing articles took maternity leave, and we had to find someone who would write. I rejected several candidates and their test tasks. Then our CTO asked me to write on my own, hence I rejected all the proposals. I do my best not to talk at random, so I decided to give it a try. After some articles for our blog, step by step, I was asked to write for Clutch, TheManifest, and other reputable resources. And recently I was invited to become a member of the Forbes Business Development Council where I keep posting articles and take part in discussions, sharing my expertise with the community.
2020 was a challenging year for all of us, particularly for businesses. How did the pandemic impact your business? Please list some of the problems that you faced, and how you handled them.
Yulia Koroleva: It is possible to define 2 ways the pandemic and lockdown impacted our business. Firstly, it allowed us to realize who is among our clients and team members. Many colleagues demonstrated their best abilities and reliable attitude to working in changing, unstable conditions and we are glad to have onboard them till now. However, some team members appeared to be discredited and we had to make harsh decisions, including dismissals. Some clients were trying to use the situation and to ask for significant discounts in the background of a crisis. Secondly, the pandemic affected the overall business strategy of the company. Analyzed and elaborated what was happening, discussed the situation with clients and team members, and decided to focus on business development.
We decided to take a step forward and enlarge our business capacities by opening an office in Poland. We switched to remote and hybrid formats of work and did our best to hire some expert-level developers who had become available on the market. In general, we have a positive assessment of recent years, we have achieved good results. I’m sure that concluding everything that happened, including some negative aspects, resulted in a positive impact. We just recommended not to stop and be flexible. Today we recommend not to stop, and not to forget about moving forward. Because, you know, waiting for the right moment can take a long time.
The pandemic led to a myriad of cultural side effects, including one that was quite unexpected that is informally known as “The Great Resignation”. Did this widespread trend affect you in any way?
Yulia Koroleva: The Great Resignation phenomenon hasn’t affected us. What we see is that while many people rethought their expectations and values of work and decided to change it, many also began to value stability. I’m sure that people became more attentive, diligent and responsible. And surely, more flexible and, no doubts, mobile. The number of people looking for stable work, without periodic job change, is growing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021. How do you feel about this trend? Explain.
Yulia Koroleva: It is necessary to keep in mind that July’s layoffs are a part of the overall Great Resignation, isn’t it? Well, even though there might be potential damage to the economy, I keep positive regarding this situation. I believe that COVID-related events changed people’s mindset so they decided to change their lives, and for many, this choice turned out to be associated with leaving or changing jobs. Their choices deserve respect. Hopefully, these mass layoffs will not cause significant problems in critical industries like food production, logistics, energetics, and so on.
According to a study by Harvard Business Review, Employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates, with an average increase of more than 20% between 2020 and 2021. That can be quite an alarming rate. What advice would you share to increase employee retention?
Yulia Koroleva: Well, a particular aspect of our niche is that developers are usually represented by the young. So the mentioned trend didn’t affect us. More than 70% of our employees are under 30. It is necessary to underline that there is a particularity connected to higher education in Eastern Europe: IT specialists usually start working on 3-4th courses and begin working full-time after graduation. Regarding people aged 30-45, at our Code Inspiration company, it is the management branch and several developers who prefer stability.
According to a Nature Human behavior study, In 2020, 80% of US workers reported feeling that they have too many things to do and not enough time to do them – a phenomenon known as “time poverty”. What is your take on the work-life balance? Explain.
Yulia Koroleva: We have relocated to Poland recently and despite the closeness to Belarus, it’s hard not to notice the difference in attitude to work-life balance. In Belarus, there was no surprise to have several working days lasting 12 or more hours. Europeans do their best to spend more time with their loved ones, relatives, friends, or alone, walking, visiting something, preparing for some events or holidays, or assigning time for self-learning. I treat it as an example and do my best to adapt to the ‘European’ work-life balance and not to spend 90% of my time at work. Indeed, it decreases the number of working hours but increases performance.
A more recent survey by Joblist asked about 3,000 respondents if they’re actively thinking about leaving their job. That survey found that 73% of 2,099 respondents who answered this question on their employment plans are considering quitting. How are you preparing for the future to counter this potentially persistent problem?
Yulia Koroleva: We aim to provide employees with an understanding that their work is long-term because many clients’ projects are complex and of long duration. It is important to maintain a balance of financial stability together with interest to work based on interesting projects. This balance helps us to retain employees. Indeed, life sometimes comes with surprises and there is an urgent necessity for an employee to leave. We are sympathetic to such situations and do our best to maintain a culture of transfer of duties. The goal of this culture is to ensure that overall progress on the given project is not affected by the change of staff.
Thank you for all that, our readers are grateful for your insightful comments! Now, if the Great Resignation isn’t your greatest concern, what is the #1 most pressing challenge you’re trying to solve in your business right now?
Yulia Koroleva: Probably there is a rising necessity to be extremely flexible and adaptable to changes. This is a great challenge to update business strategy when something happens on the market. Business practice shows that long-term plans and goals are often unreachable because of fast changes in the market. So today we do our best to be as flexible and adaptable as possible, able to react quickly when necessary and maybe predict problems and changes to be ready in advance. By the way, at the beginning of 2021, there was a flashmob organized by PureVPN, the task was to create a short motivational video with some business-related messages. We decided to take part and shared our motivation, which was demonstrated on Times Square.
Before we finish things off, we do have one last question. If you had 10 Million Dollars to spend in one day, what would you spend it on?
Yulia Koroleva: If the sum is expected to be spent on some business development, I would pay for the best employees, ensuring their lifetime hire at our company. Or at least the top 10 of them, with whom we have already worked for years and gone through a lot. And if not about business, I would spend this sum on charity to help children. I do my best to give some sums and participate in charity activities from time to time. A possibility to donate 10 million dollars right off to those who are definitely in need, sounds gratifying to me.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Yulia Koroleva for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Yulia Koroleva or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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