Dr. Tykhomyrova is the Head of Management and Economics Department, and supervisor of consulting projects for international and Ukrainian companies. As an expert on evaluation of business education needs for Central and Eastern Europe at European Training Foundation, her vision is a key to winning the future for the next generation of Ukrainians.
Dr. Tykhomyrova is a member of the academic—methodological commission on management at the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Her educational path led through the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium), the Central European University (Hungary), and the International Management Teachers Academy (Slovenia).
What does Ukraine need to do now? On the war front? On the peace front?
We need to win. We are fighting many fronts now. To win on the battlefield we need to be strong, brave, and resilient. To win on the economic front, we need to develop the economy and lay the foundation for the future revival of Ukraine. We also need to use all the resources available internally and look for the resources available through our international partners.
How do you view this war? Is it possible to say that this is Ukraine’s revolt against Russian corruption?
It is the war between the past and the future. It is not the war against corruption but rather the war of different mindsets: the past-oriented imperial and colonial and forward-looking and democracy-based. If we compare Russian and Ukrainian leadership, we’ll see that Russians are a generation older. That’s why it is safe to say that they are free of the Soviet legacy. They were brought up in an open world with different values. We are fighting for a lifestyle based on respect and cooperation against the obsolete, and malevolent regime. Besides, it is the fight for our path to the future that is enrooted in European humanistic values.
How does planning for peace create a roadmap for the future? What will end this war?
All wars end up in peace treaties. We do not know when we will draw up our treaty of peace.
We also do not know yet what price we will pay for our victory, whether we are talking about the war death toll or damage to our cities, industrial sites, energy infrastructure, etc. Because of those unknowns, we cannot start making our business plans. However, it is high time to lay the foundation of our future and start working to make the future happen. I see three main priorities that need to be dealt with now. Firstly, education will be the key to success because we need people with certain skill sets and mindsets. Secondly, the launch of judicial system reform is pending to create a transparent and favorable legal and regulatory framework. And thirdly, as the result, a favorable investment climate and availability of human capital with the right competencies will drive the economic revival. The establishment of a viable financial market is important for economic restoration projects as well. After our victory and signing the peace treaty we will need to move quickly.
What steps should be taken to ensure the rebuilding of Ukraine is regenerative, that is, it builds community wealth in a sustainable way, rather than extractive?
Our war is the war for the future. We see immense environmental damage in our country. The inflicted damage may affect the whole world, especially if we are talking about nuclear power plants. Even if our war is in Central Europe, the environmental damage may be global. That’s why we need to adopt an environment-oriented approach to what we do and will do. Thinking environmentally is critical because we need to recover not only our economy but our habitat from war-inflicted damages. Much will depend on the new technologies and technological businesses. Investments and investors are critical for developing those new technologies and businesses. Besides, many obsolete manufacturing sites located in the East of Ukraine were ruined. In my opinion, we will need to recover those metallurgy or energy sites with new technologies. I believe that the country’s restoration will mean new, greener businesses.
What role does business have in rebuilding Ukraine? How do the businesses that left Ukraine return?
Businesses will be the driving force of the country’s post-war economic revival. As we mentioned, the economy is our second front. Although relocated abroad, most businesses are sure that they are expanding their activities rather than leaving the Ukrainian market. After the war, they will return to Ukraine because rebuilding the economy means an abundance of opportunities. We believe that not only relocated businesses will return to domestic markets, but new investors will come to Ukraine for more opportunities. The economic revival will become the driving force for those people who fled abroad. To secure the inward businesses movement, we should create a legal and regulatory framework that encourages doing business, a favorable tax regime, and judicial reform that will be instrumental in the protection of investors’ rights. Without investors’ confidence in their protection businesses will struggle.
The western part of Ukraine has become more developed because of the war? What steps can be taken to ensure these developments don’t stop when the war is over?
Many businesses did move there. In the western part, agrarian business, tourism, and high tech have always accounted for a substantial share of the economy. Currently, people have fled their homes in the eastern part of Ukraine and moved westward. Some businesses moved as well. I think that the western part of Ukraine will become a part of the overall recovery strategy. Due to its geography, it will become an important logistic hub.
At a time when democracy is in decline in the world, how does Ukraine plan on building a more democratic society?
We sacrificed a lot for democracy. I think we are laying the foundation for the future of democracy. Our civil society is developing quickly due to the people participating in the war as military service people or members of the territorial defense units, volunteers, and people who are working against all odds. They have already taken the responsibility for the future of the country. After the war, they will return to normal lives and become important actors in business, politics, and in social institutions. They are paying dearly for the future. That’s why I believe that our veterans, volunteers, and civil society will become a driving force and guarantors of the democratic boost and democratic changes.
Thanks for your time and hard work. We look forward to a time soon when the people of Ukraine can live in peace and prosperity, and democracy.
INTERVIEW by Christian Sarkar