Ukrainian female tech leader worth getting to know

The Kyiv Independent recently published an article titled “Here are 3 Ukrainian female tech leaders worth getting to know“, which featured our Administrative Director, Eugenia Zhovnach.

In the article, the author talks about three successful Ukrainian women who are making a significant contribution to the development of the technology industry.

Eugenia Zhovnach shared her experience working in the gaming industry and talked about how she managed to achieve success in this field.

The article is a great example of how Ukrainian women are breaking stereotypes and becoming leaders in the technology industry.

Below is an excerpt from an interview that Eugenia Zhovnach gave to the Kyiv Independent:

Eugenia Zhovnach

administrative director Zagrava Games

Eugenia Zhovnach, administrative director at Rivne-based mobile game developer Zagrava, says that she is a “little surprised she’s a woman in tech” given her accountant background.

Her career in the IT industry started 14 years ago, “randomly,” when an old friend of hers asked if she knew any good accountants for a job with an American company that had an office in Rivne. Zhovnach wasn’t very satisfied with her job at the time and proposed she take up the offer herself.

After the original company closed a couple of years after Zhovnach joined, the core team decided to stay together and start Zagrava Games. Four years ago, the Dublin-based mobile games developer Playrix made the company an offer to merge. The two companies combined have over 200 employees.

Zhovnach went from accountant to founder, to her current position as administrative director. She and the company’s CEO Oleksiy Mykhasyuk split the management responsibilities — Mykhasyuk is on the product side, while Zhovnach oversees administration.

She says that the team at Zagrava has built a socially responsible business, one that reflects on the ways it can have a positive influence on the development of the region and local community.

This may be one of the reasons the company’s employees asked to open the office back up just a few days after the start of the full-scale invasion saying they felt safer and cared for there. Entire families with their children were coming to the office in those days — “It was really a time of support for one another,” she said.

Ninety percent of the company’s employees who fled after the start of the war have returned, including Zhovnach and her son, who she felt should be with his father.

“I also felt responsible for my colleagues. I didn’t want to appear like a manager betraying her team, sitting in a warm, safe place, while they are here struggling every day with the challenges of the war.”

Eugenia Zhovnach (Zagrava Games press service)
Eugenia Zhovnach (Zagrava Games press service)

While she lauds the qualities that she says make Ukrainian IT workers unique, such as their ability to go above and beyond and to think outside the box, she laments the fact that “men are still very much the drivers of business” in Ukraine and that there are so few women in tech.

“In 14 years, we’ve only had one female programmer,” she said, adding that while the team is split 48% women to 52% men, there are no women in purely technical positions currently.

The war could change things, she thinks. As men cannot travel abroad to meet with potential investors or partners, that job is now being passed on to women.

But for Zhovnach, the biggest sore spot working in IT is the lack of Ukrainian-made tech products. Even if a product is fully developed in Ukraine, the company belongs to other jurisdictions out of the country, a sign that there’s a lack of trust in starting companies here.

In the meantime, Ukrainian women who are trying to balance work and family also have it particularly rough.

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