The Talent War: Helping a Ukrainian refugee realize her potential
Our lead consultant for business services and life sciences, Ross Gordon and his family invited a 21-year-old Ukrainian refugee to live with them – and the experience had a positive effect on their own well-being.
Lisa Kopteva is a remarkable young woman – hardworking, ambitious, tenacious and courageous. When war came to Ukraine, she was in Kharkiv, 30 miles from the Russian border, in the final stages of an economics degree she funded by working remotely for an American logistics company.
At the start of the invasion, 21-year-old Lisa had hoped to stay in Kharkiv, but it soon became clear that the city was a major Russian target. Huge sections of it have been destroy by relentless and indiscriminate Russian bombardment, disrupting the lives of his family and countless others. Lisa’s father stayed in Ukraine to fight and her mother is now in temporary accommodation in Germany.
So Lisa set off in search of safety, making the arduous and frightening journey through Ukraine and Poland, almost miraculously finding the time and resolve to continue doing her work remotely, logging into gyms and other facilities. which have been temporarily put into operation to house the flood of migrant refugees. Eventually she traveled to Prague, hoping to find a sponsor in the UK under the Accommodation for Ukraine scheme.
This is where we entered the story. Like many families around the world, we wanted to help those affected by war in some way. Our daughters Ariarna and Harriet asked my wife and I if we could open our doors to a refugee. In fact, they were remarkably persistent and proved to be very good at talking to mom and dad from their point of view. We are all very happy that they did.
Now I feel like Lisa is part of our family as well. Although her life has been difficult this year, she has settled in quickly and is acting like a big sister to my daughters and is a great role model. It was wonderful to see her settle in – and to observe the positive way she was received by the local Cheshire community. For example, Lisa plays tennis at a good level and a member of our local tennis club anonymously bought her a high quality tennis racket so that she could play to her full potential while in the UK. The way the club took Lisa under their wing is another example of true kindness.
Having Lisa in our lives has also been good for us as a family. Her resilience is a fine example for us and thinking about the traumatic upheaval she went through helps to put the little setbacks of daily life into perspective. I would go so far as to say that what we did for Lisa improved our mental well-being. Helping another human being really makes you feel good – as it should of course.
We are far from finished. Lisa is a smart young lady who has now completed her degree in economics and is seeking undergraduate accounting/tax accounting employment in the North West, and we are doing what we can to advance her in her career.
At Odgers Interim and our sister companies, we focus on board-level recruitment rather than graduate appointments, but given Lisa’s situation, colleagues have moved quickly to provide pro bono support. . Ardiana Hashani, researcher for Berwick Partners, helped Lisa prepare her CV; Kathryn Spetch, Odgers Berndtson and Grant Speed Odgers Interim MD, provided competency-based interview training; and myself along with Duncan Hoggett and Mitchel Partington from our CFO practice have been considering target companies in the North West region.
If we as a family – and indeed our colleagues at Odgers – were able to help Lisa feel valued and empowered, that’s a fabulous thing. We have seen his self-confidence and personal ambition blossom and we deeply hope that much success and happiness awaits him. For her part, Lisa has enormous respect for the extent to which the UK is helping Ukraine at this dark time in its history.
If you know of an accounting opportunity for Lisa, please contact me. Alternatively, if you are considering becoming a host under the Homes for Ukraine program, please do not hesitate to contact us.