01 November 2022

Before the war, Halyna Chyburovska, MIM-Kyiv MBA was launching Ukrainian – Austrian project for young musicians and composers in Zhytomyr. After February 24, the priorities changed as she became the director of the regional volunteering headquarters. Maryna Matviychuk, Halyna’s classmate joined her and brought her fundraising expertise. 

Both Halyna Chyburovska and Maryna Matviychuk shared their experience of networking, trust development, and the importance of culture for urban development. 

МІМ: - Many changed their plans because of the war. What were you doing at the beginning of the full-scale invasion?

Halyna: Before the full-scale war I accomplished tens of cultural projects in Ukraine, the US, Argentina, South Korea, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Poland. Cultural diplomacy is my passion and my job. Before the war erupted, together with the University of Gratz I was preparing ROOMS, Austrian – Ukrainian project for young musicians and composers. We shall implement it in full after the war. 

After the war erupted, I employed all my skills and network of contacts in volunteering projects. I joined the Volunteering Headquarters in Zhytomyr on the third day of its work. We did not have any organization then. We started to receive humanitarian aid because they have premises for that. International networks of the Volunteering Headquarter founders were a more important reason for launching the activities. In other words, we combined our peacetime networks of contact and put them to a different use. 

МІМ-How the Volunteers Headquarters started? Who were the first people to join forces with? 

Halyna: - I would say it was me who was close to the initiators who understood that bringing efforts together would do more good and create more synergy than launching separate projects. 

In early March as the first large truck full of humanitarian aid arrived, we faced numerous tasks like storing, loading, sorting, employing volunteers, provide safety and food for them. On the other side, we had to identify and assess the needs of recipients, such as healthcare providers. The challenges seemed to multiply every minute. 

We started working with benefactors from Germany, Finland, Poland, America, Slovakia, Italy, France, Spain, and China. Sometimes we had to unload 5 – 10 tons of humanitarian aid in a day. 

People elected or appointed me as a director without knowing much about my business or social activities experience. In addition to our top priority of helping our defenders, we defined mutual assistance, partnership, and support as our core values.

People of different age groups and with various backgrounds joined the Headquarters to help our Armed Forces and civilians. We are doing whatever it takes to win the war and help those who suffered from the war. My team members inspire me and make my work easier because of their very strong motivation. 

МІМ: - How difficult was it to establish the network of contacts for you as an outsider for Zhytomyr?  

Halyna: - Half a thousand people work in Zhytomyr Volunteering Headquarters. They are local authorities officials, entrepreneurs, activists, teachers, actors, musicians, office workers, students, and even retirees. People are moving around the country, so it does not matter much whether you are a local or an outsider. A common goal promotes communication, and cooperation, especially under extreme circumstances. 

Being an outsider has its advantages: I did not have a negative background. Developing a working relationship with many very different people in a very short time was on the downside. 

I would compare the Headquarter activities with a unique social startup where terms, teams, conditions, etc. are beyond your control and no funding is available. That was when I used my experience of multilateral projects with up to 35 partners and stakeholders. 

МІМ: - What are the main activities of the Headquarters? It seems that you are also engaged in educational and social projects. 

Halyna: - We are like a flower where each petal is a separate area of activities. People make operational decisions according to the conditions they face. So far we did not have any conflicts and work as one. 

Assistance to the Armed Forces, healthcare institutions, and humanitarian aid to internally displaced persons have been our top priorities from the beginning. Later we launched assistance to families with many children, disabled, and Zhytomyr residents who faced the harsh situation. We are developing psychological help for people. 

МІМ: - Could you tell us how different or similar the business operations you know so well to volunteering activities? 

Halyna: - Sometimes, they say that two Ukrainians have three hetmans. However, when facing challenges our ability to support each other, and act is amazing. The very strong motivation of the volunteers is typical for the current situation. We are going extra mile for reaching our aims.

In business, guidelines, financial incentives, and hierarchies shape people’s interactions. Volunteering is not restricted by internal bylaws and is not paid. That’s why you cannot do without trust, leading by example, and valuing each team member. As a trained conductor, I insist that there are no redundant instruments in the orchestra. The same is with volunteering. My task as a conductor or director is to develop trust. Otherwise, my orchestra has no sound. Our Headquarters is close to good phrasing. 

МІМ: - How did the skills and knowledge acquire at MIM-Kyiv help them build the new structure from the scratch in such a short time?

Halyna: - Things we learned at MIM-Kyiv are invaluable. Your network stays with you after you graduate. I have been building on the knowledge obtained at MIM-Kyiv for many years. I often think about what they said during the classes like “Ability to adapt is a key to success”, “Manager’s task is to make decisions”, and “People are your most valuable asset”. I speak a common language with MIM-Kyiv’s alumni. 

МІМ: - Maryna Matviychuk is another MIM-Kyiv MBA working for the Headquarters. How did you join it? How difficult has your volunteering experience been?

Maryna: - I did my MBA at MIM-Kyiv a month and a half before the war. Before taking the program at MIM-Kyiv I worked as a project manager for the public sector and in cultural initiatives. I joined volunteering after February 24. At first, it was rather chaotic but then the Headquarters started working as an organization. At that point, it lacked managerial skills. When Halyna invited me, I joined her team. 

МІМ: - What made you, a mother of a little one leave Kyiv and join the Volunteering Headquarters? How do you manage to juggle your family obligations and volunteering?

Maryna: - Millions of Ukrainians changed their lives and moved from their homes. Each had their own motivation from saving their lives to finding jobs elsewhere. I have three children who are 22, 9, and 3. They are close, have their responsibilities, and help each other. 

MIM- How did your business school studies impact your life? What is the role of the community in your activities?

Maryna: - Community is an essential element for me. Learning is infinite. I made friends with my classmates, and they support and inspire me. MIM-Kyiv alumni are more than a brand. It is a close-knit community of similarly minded people who share values. 

Due to my studies at MIM-Kyiv I acquired a “helicopter view” of business and society. We all have different educational backgrounds, we read a lot, follow the latest trends, etc. Due to MIM-Kyiv’s MBA program, we can integrate all those diverse elements into a comprehensive picture. 

2022 experience made it crystal clear that business or professional success is not enough. We should use all our knowledge, skills, and capabilities to improve our society.