ELEKS, a leading software engineering firm, headquartered in Lviv, Ukraine, and which serves customers globally, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Ruslan Zakharchenko, Chief Executive Officer at ELEKS, talks about the company’s inception, development and recent achievements.
Your company is the same age as independent Ukraine. How did ELEKS start in 1991, and what has changed since then?
Twenty-five years ago, the IT market in Ukraine didn’t even exist. Basically, ELEKS started as a product company, with the idea of solving critical challenges through the application of science and technology. When the captive Soviet states finally became independent countries, the electrical power grid needed to be carved into separate systems for each of the newly-independent states. Oleksiy Skrypnyk, along with his son, also Oleksiy, created DAKAR, a unique product for power system stability analysis, the real-time management of large power systems and load flow analysis. Today, DAKAR is a successful product implemented in more than 20 Eastern European power systems, although it represents only a very minor part of ELEKS’ business.
The products we develop range from the software used in filming Hollywood movies to mission-critical systems for agricultural businesses, while our customers include numerous Fortune 500® companies. Among our key projects is CAESAR II, a comprehensive system supporting administration and business processes of import GST, as well as the administration and collection of customs and excise duty for the government of the States of Jersey, UK. Another key project is a high traffic e-commerce solution for one of Europe’s largest online retailers, with API for mobile applications, security, payments, performance, fault-tolerance, and scalability. In the global trade area, we have developed an integrated Credit Risk Management System (CRMS) that streamlines and automates processes related to counterparties, contracts, and risk management.
ELEKS is among the top 10 largest IT firms in Ukraine. How are you different from other companies in your business?
Actually, ELEKS is also one of the world’s 100 best outsourcing companies and a top 5 enterprise software development firm, based on independent evaluation by industry organizations. However, ELEKS is not a traditional outsourcing company. In addition to the fact that we have our own software products and focus on the development of technologically complex systems, we have preserved our passion for innovation, through the early adoption and exploration of new technologies.
Our technology experiments have gained wide industry recognition and media coverage. A large customer of ours operating in the financials industry says they had the most success from a research-and-development standpoint with ELEKS, and we are actively developing our R&D-as-a-Service offering, which already has a strong foundation and internal processes and practices in place to support it. R&D is at the core of our culture, and the products we develop. Not only do we experiment with technologies, but also with business models. As a result, the projects on which our teams work tend to be more leading-edge, technology-forward, business-driven, with a smooth, automated “back office.”
We have been working on software products for 25 years, and for the last 16 years we have also been in the outsourcing business. As an example, we did software development for drones as a volunteer project to help the Ukrainian army; this led to the creation of our newly established unit, Luftronix, which is entering the U.S. market with this product. We aim to continue collaboration with our partners in the outsourcing space, while continuously introducing new products and moving towards the solutions business model. It is a natural move, as in today’s market more and more customers want to deal with a creative technology partner focused on solving business and technology challenges, rather than a staff augmentation provider.
To support the implementation of our strategy, our delivery rganization is finalizing a number of technology accelerators, including an Enterprise Platforms Suite, as well as additional initiatives to help us scale, monitor and manage a large number of projects. These will be included into our “Enterprise-Out-of-the-Box” approach, which supports our transition into the development of scaled distributed enterprise solutions and cloud-ready global solutions.
People are our greatest asset, so ELEKS puts great emphasis on the development of core professional competencies: project management, business analysis, user experience, software architecture, data science, etc. Our people are continuously developing a better understanding of business acumen. ELEKS has created an environment which provides broad opportunities for professional development, training and improvement, while the driving force is challenging work that keeps employees interested and motivated.
You were appointed CEO of ELEKS in November 2014. Have you achieved any of the set goals and what is in your plans?
In the course of 2016 ELEKS expanded its
portfolio with several enterprise level customers in the retail, logistics and
agriculture industries. As a growing and customer-oriented business, we are continually
expanding our presence in the U.S. and UK markets, as well as in Europe, with
plans to strengthen the office in Rzeszów and expand to Kraków.
My primary goal is to implement our
strategy with a focus on high technology, using various business models, while
growing our core business at a rate above the market average. Not building an
empire, but a strong, agile, healthy and profitable business which has space
I started my career at ELEKS 16 years ago as a C++ developer, gradually moving across different positions and spheres of responsibility. In my view, there are two core components to success – passion and science. I strongly believe nothing is impossible to achieve if you are persistent, passionate, willing to take more responsibility, have a clear vision of your goal and invest your time and strength into education.
Which skills and personal qualities are you looking for in your potential employees?
Besides core human values like reliability, integrity and respect for others, the primary qualities are a desire to take responsibility for complex tasks that often include a scientific component, and also a strong desire to understand the customer. Our perfect candidate is result-oriented and has a wish to achieve team goals as well as individual goals. Our company offers a unique, creative environment where any smart idea can be put into practice. As an example, everyone at ELEKS or any of our customers can contribute to our R&D by submitting their ideas to the company-wide platform where best ideas are selected and implemented, and many of our employees spend time on R&D projects.
How is your business active in its social responsibility?
In addition to our volunteer projects for the Ukrainian army, including an automated medical record system for military hospitals, our main field of involvement is IT education and community development.
At our corporate university we create new educational opportunities for talented technology students, launching training camps in software engineering, DevOps, QA, UX, Business Analysis and other topics; another opportunity is a software academy for post-combat veterans to help them start in IT. Our headquarters in Lviv is proud to host a department of Lviv Polytechnic University, with our top experts as lecturers, and several of our executives as lecturers or board members of programs at the Lviv Business School at the Ukrainian Catholic University. ELEKS is a co-founder of Lviv IT Cluster and a co-organizer of Lviv IT Arena, the most successful IT event in Ukraine, and an organizer of its Product Stream.
Please accept our congratulations on the 25th anniversary of ELEKS. We wish your business a great success, it has been a pleasure talking to you. Is there anything you’d like to add as a conclusion?
In our collaboration, among all various technologies and business models, we employ the principle of partnership, both internally in the organization and with our clients. We aim to help our customers innovate through the development of advanced software products that matter, and their success is our greatest motivation. We welcome on board talented people who are ready to work on complex, challenging projects to reach new heights and contribute to the development of Ukrainian high tech industry.
And happy Independence Day to all of us.
ELEKS provides full-cycle, software product engineering services, from the ideation phase to building finished products to deployment and support. We help businesses innovate and build advanced software products, leveraging technologies such as Data Analytics, the Internet of Things, mobile applications and wearables. ELEKS’ delivery organization, consisting of approximately 800 professionals in Ukraine and Poland, is strengthened by a local presence in the U.S. and the UK. More information at eleks.com