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How Business Works during the War. Episode 3. Oleksii Pustovit
05.04.2022
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How Business Works during the War. Episode 3. Oleksii Pustovit
People. Leadership and management. Culture
During the war, the legal business performs many important functions. For instance, Asters Law Firm is now developing a mechanism for recording and estimating losses and damages. Oleksii Pustovit, a partner of this organization and a participant of the Presidents’ MBA kmbs program, told us of the same. And also that just recently his dream has come true — he received an invitation and a scholarship from Georgetown University to study in the prestigious LL.M. program.

About the beginning of the war and the first steps

The war found me in bed. I have French windows, so I saw what was happening on the side of Vasylkiv. One of the rockets fell 1.5 km from my house. Like probably most of us, I did not believe this would actually happen. Our mistake was that we thought rationally, unlike Russia.

In a couple of hours, I was already talking to my colleagues. I told them, “If you want to go, go, but don’t do it on the first day, because there will be immense traffic jams.” I took the children out the next day after the war began. Now they are abroad together with my wife, and I have returned to Kyiv. Life is very dynamic here now; cafes and shops are opening up. When I was riding a bike and saw mined areas or heard explosions, I was scared at first. And now this is our new normality.

Some of our employees were able to leave the hotspots, but some remained in the blocked settlements. Some more joined the Armed Forces. One of our advisers is the first foreigner to join the Foreign Legion and to sign a contract to defend Ukraine.

Of course, at first, a lot of work issues stopped because they became irrelevant, all the Ukrainian clients had something else to do. The foreigners at first did not understand what was happening here and then began to support us wildly. We received a lot of letters and appeals…

Like the vast majority of Ukrainians, our team is engaged in volunteering. In particular, our team members joined in fixing the crimes. And we are also developing a new product for Ukrainian business — damage assessment and fixation so that later one could get compensation.

We are contributing to the boycott of Russian business; let’s say we are writing appeals to the clients. In the first days of the war, we publicly addressed all customers and informed them we would not continue to cooperate with those who have Russian beneficiaries. Even if these customers brought us substantial profit.

About the scholarship

Before the war, I had a personal strategy, part of which was studying in the LL.M program at Georgetown University. In December, I collected all the documents, wrote an essay (the experience of studying at kmbs helped a lot) and applied. I did not hope much for the scholarship, the requirements were quite strict, in particular, there was a requirement to make a significant contribution to the development of civil society.

In the essay, I said that in Ukraine there are “desperate” people (victims of corruption, etc.), there are those who “do not know” and there are also the “progressive” ones. The latter comprise only 2-4% of the society. My idea was that if we do our job well and publicly, we will broadcast a new way of thinking, and there will be more of such people.

 

Like the vast majority of Ukrainians, our team is engaged in volunteering. In particular, our team members joined in fixing the crimes. And we are also developing a new product for Ukrainian business — damage assessment and fixation so that later one could get compensation

 

A few days ago I received a decision that I was enrolled. And a couple of days later I learned that I had received a scholarship.

The education will last 1 year with access to a very wide range of subjects. Consciously choosing Georgetown, I wanted to focus on four areas: antitrust law (I want to understand American specifics), international trade and customs, sanctions, and export controls. Training should start in late summer — early fall, and I hope I will be able to go.

About the future

I believe we will win, although I do not know when this will happen. And I think we need to make an effort to be in shape to provide support when it happens.

I also believe that after the war Ukraine will become a powerful, interesting, and promising place. A place, everyone would strive to return to.

Of course, we need reforms for both business and the judiciary. Without this, nothing will happen. Old judges and actors of this system remain hostages to a corrupt past. They will need to be replaced by someone, i.e. someone qualified. This may take some time, let’s say 1-2 years. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

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