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Tricity is a great place for IT companies – interview with Olga Kuraksa from Ciklum

Ciklum, a company that provides software solutions for clients from all over the world, with offices in 10 countries, celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. At the same time, it is been 7 years since the start of Ciklum’s operations in Poland. What kind of projectare the Gdańsk-based developers working on? Why is the Tricity an ideal place for the development of the IT sector? Has the relocation process of employees, related to the war in Ukraine, gone smoothly? These questions were answered by Olga Kuraksa, General Manager at Ciklum Poland, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

The company has turned 20 years. How long have you been in Poland, and why did you choose this market to open delivery centres?

OK: 2023 has marked the 7th anniversary of Ciklum opening the first delivery centre in Poland. Now we have two offices in the country – in Wrocław and Gdańsk. Additionally we’re hiring fully remote tech specialists to our teams in Poland as well. By showing this level of flexibility Ciklum meets expectations of our target audience.

The amazing IT potential of Eastern Europe has been known globally for years. And Poland is definitely standing out in the region with its wide talent pool of 300 000+ developers, high quality of tech education, and the local tech community being so well-versed in cutting-edge technologies.

On a personal level, I must acknowledge the unparalleled technical expertise, innovative thinking, and strong work ethic that Polish experts show. They also have strong communication skills and impressive proficiency in English that help make their work in distributed teams very effective.

There are also a couple of market factors that are worth mentioning. First and foremost, the business environment in Poland is really stable, deregulated, and supportive.  Such operating conditions create a high level of effectiveness and clarity that is vital for any global company. Free market economy as well as membership in the EU ensure understandable and predictable “rules of the game” where the impact of possible business risks is minimized.

As you see, we’ve got the perfect mix here, in Poland. Enhanced by our global expertise and local experience, it’s been delivering outstanding results over the years. We believe that continuous exploration of the talent pool in Poland can strengthen our team and help us develop exceptional solutions for our clients worldwide.

Ciklum has ensured its presence in Gdańsk. What was the reason behind the choice of this site? Was it a skilful talent pool, the thriving pulse of the city, or maybe something else?

OK: Gdańsk, as a part of Tricity, located on the beautiful Baltic coast of Poland, boasts fantastic work and family conditions. With its thriving economy, Tricity is the perfect place for professionals seeking a fulfilling work-life balance. Additionally, Gdańsk offers families an unparalleled quality of life, with a wide variety of educational and recreational resources, excellent healthcare facilities, and a welcoming and friendly community. The region’s unique blend of modern amenities and natural beauty creates a rare living experience, making the city a top choice for those who seek professional and personal fulfillment.

Given the number of international companies who have been investing in the modernisation and development of Gdańsk recently, I see a bright future for the IT industry in the region. Many Ciklumers, including myself, prefer Gdańsk to other locations. And while most of our positions in Poland are fully remote, many people prefer visiting the office as many social gatherings and events are happening there.

Tricity is home to numerous tech companies, startups, research institutions, and educational centers. 129 IT companies in the region represent different segments of the market: IT startups, outsource giants, R&D centers of well-known brands. It is also known for its reputable universities and technical schools with more than 81 000 students. Among the most popular fields of study are engineering studies, related to technology, industry and construction.

With that being said, I’d like to give credits to the local authorities who have been more than welcoming. Ciklum’s experience in the region can only prove the point – Poland is doing a great job in attracting IT companies to the country. And our cooperation with “Invest in Pomeraniais a great showcase of productive local support and guidance.

Competition in the talent market remains high. What makes Ciklum a special employer and workplace?

OK: At Ciklum, we always put people first. And it’s much more than just a fancy HR slogan or declaration. We’re fully committed to it. Our values and genuine care for each one of our talents make us stand out among the competition. We create a space where skilled and mature professionals can connect with like-minded people and work on projects they truly find interesting and exciting. We mostly work with experienced engineers, allowing all team members to learn from one another daily and boost their expertise. Working with notorious international clients helps, too, as our colleagues have a chance to create solutions that are changing the world around us every day.

Some of our clients’ names you can find on our website, some of them we cannot disclose due to NDA agreements. But most of them do bring scale and impact to the table – for instance, we are working with the leading leisure, travel and tourism group that serves 27 million customers worldwide providing unmatched holiday experience around the globe. And Ciklum plays a part in that!

Another interesting project is our cooperation with one of Switzerland’s largest providers of IT services. Ciklum developers are responsible for implementing new features and maintaining customers’ SAP products.

But Ciklum is not only engaged with huge corporations – we are also a valuable partner for a wide range of startups, showcasing our expertise in custom product development at its best. FinTech, Consumer, iGaming – we have plenty of challenging tasks to offer in a variety of domains. And our motto – Be bold, not bored – perfectly reflects our approach. Ciklum is forward-thinking, progressive, and stays away from legacy projects and old-fashioned technology.

Are you engaged in any forms of ESG activities? Does Ciklum care about the sustainability of the work environment?

OK: Our key ESG priorities are Sustainability, Equality of opportunity, and Growth. Let’s do a deeper dive in those.

As a global company, we understand that environmental responsibility starts within our operations and extends through services. Over half of our development centres across the globe are 100% plastic-free, including both Wrocław and Gdańsk locations. We choose local suppliers to reduce transportation emissions and reduce the packaging to minimum whenever we order something to fulfill our needs. Moreover, we hold various webinars for our colleagues to encourage environmentally friendly habits.

Ciklum is also committed to preserving a positive and enjoyable workplace with equal opportunities. This approach is reflected in our compliance policy and code of conduct, guiding all Ciklumers towards working in a friendly community of like-minded people.

We also support all employees in their learning and self-development journeys, allowing them to use various internal tools, get new certifications, and join L&D activities.

In addition to these three, I’d like to mention our charitable initiatives aimed at helping those who suffered from the ongoing war. We support the “Children near Lviv” and “Children of Heroes” charitable funds that help kids from Ukraine. Our colleagues are constantly involved in volunteer and charitable activities, and we can’t be prouder of it.

What are Ciklum’s long-term plans for its presence in Poland?

OK: We have very ambitious plans regarding our growth and development in Poland. Considering the increasing interest among our international clients and the effect of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Poland has become one of our priority markets for hiring talents and starting new projects. We believe there are many more opportunities we can bring to tech professionals in Poland and better utilize the potential of the Polish tech market. We’ve always seen Gdańsk as an important location for Ciklum, and we plan to keep it this way in 2023.

You have a big delivery centre in Ukraine. How did the war affect the relocation of talents to Poland? Did the company support this process legal-wise and financially?

OK: The safety and security of our colleagues have always been and will always be our priority. Before the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, we enhanced our already  comprehensive business continuity plan to ensure stable work for our employees under any circumstances. Since February 2022, almost 350 Ciklumers have relocated from different Ukrainian cities to Poland. Our Polish colleagues have shown full dedication to helping them do so. While Ciklum covered the expenses for transport and provided relocating employees with a daily allowance for the first month, our colleagues were coordinating, meeting people at the border, looking for accommodation, supporting with advice and translation. It was an incredible effort of people that haven’t even met each other offline before. And this is where a real team spirit can be felt.

When colleagues settled in their new locations, Ciklum started offering local contracts to the experts considering a long-term relocation. Moreover, we made sure that all employees have sufficient information regarding their tax residency, temporary protection status, and other organisational matters.

We prioritise the needs of Ciklumers above all else. This approach resulted in creating an internal mental health program to support our colleagues’ psychological well-being. As a part of this global initiative, employees can get free appointments with therapists to help them cope with stress or trauma. In addition, we frequently organise different webinars and workshops with worldwide experts. Their expertise is crucial for helping people understand their feelings, manage stress levels, and fight anxiety.

Now, more than one year after the full-scale invasion and relocation of our colleagues, I see how they got attached to Poland and how truly grateful they are for this new environment being so welcoming and supportive.

 

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  • data: 2023-06-07

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