In the first part of this article, we talked about Techstack’s product development teams, their philosophy, responsibility areas and activities changed because of the war in Ukraine. However, Techstack is not limited to software product engineering and has a wide range of functions supporting its growth as an organization, a community, and a brand.
So, today we will talk about Marketing, People, Communication, Business Development and Office Management functions and what changes they experienced because of the war.
According to the marketing team, the Techstack marketing function is lucky to work with the most incredible product ever — Techstack. The team characterizes the work on the corporate brand and unique culture as the work on an exceptional product which already has its aim and values, so it requires only thorough maintenance. The function's primary goal is to spread the word about it, highlight its engineering, and product-oriented culture and support this atmosphere within the company. Since one of Techstack`s values is people, it is critical for the marketing function to constantly improve both the brand and the culture to make them relevant and attractive for our partners and our team.
Generally, the activities of the marketing function are directed at three groups: our current and potential partners on the product side, job seekers and our potential applicants and our existing team. To respond to the needs of all groups, the marketing function conducts market research, builds connections and partnerships, launches promo campaigns, creates social media engagement, builds media relations, trust and reputation, develops content strategy, organizes events and community-building activities, and so on.
Before the war, this six-person team had extensive plans: aside from regular activities and a well-thought yearly strategy, the team was about to launch a motivation campaign introducing Techstack’s important belief — the importance of making an impact by personal actions, was getting ready for a new office opening, recording promo videos, establishing an email marketing direction and many more. Now the team was forced to adjust an old strategy to the conditions of war, putting on hold many activities and reshaping and reinventing others.
Although certain people could get back to work on the fourth day of the war, generally, it took two weeks for a whole function to re-engage with their tasks. People who managed to evacuate during the first days of the war could start working on new tasks earlier and take care of others’ areas of responsibility too. People who reached safe places first also helped others evacuate quickly and find a place to stay. The team stayed in touch constantly, reporting about the conditions of each member in a particular chat, sharing helpful information, and cheering each other up.
One of the regular activities that came back first was the daily status meetings, where the team discusses its progress, plans and challenges.
“My favorite part of our daily meetings is the very beginning when each of us shares at least one piece of good news: a newborn kitten, a weekend walk in the countryside, a huge puzzle collected within one evening. This helps distract from all the horrors happening in Kharkiv and remind ourselves that there is still something good in these dark times.” – says Roksana, Digital Marketing Manager at Techstack.
Despite the urgent need to readjust all plans and activities, the marketing function works not only on the corporate development but also builds an internal creative culture within the team, encouraging each member to grow professionally.
The marketing function also works in tight collaboration with the design function and has informal solid relationships too. For example, both teams unite for after-work calls, hold online absurd presentation nights and plan to organize a joint hackathon.
The team has spent the past two months in safe places in Ukraine and abroad. From June on, just like all other functions, the Marketing team is back to the OKR system, which they consider a perfect fit in the rapidly changing environment. The team reactivated all the pre-war activities and operates at total capacity building new plans and executing new campaigns.
Business Development & Account Management Functions
The two functions, which work in intense collaboration, are the business development and account management functions. The business development function aims to establish the company’s constant growth by offering our experts up-to-date and challenging products to develop and maintain. On the other hand, the team searches for a perfect match between our abilities and the product’s needs. So together with our partners, we form an excellent product team.
In turn, the account management team functions to guarantee the comfort of our partners in communication with the product development teams, to prevent any issues or to troubleshoot existing misunderstandings.
Most people who work within these functions met the war in Kharkiv. During the first days, the main task was to constantly stay in touch with our customers and partners, informing them of each team member's state and safety. While evacuating from the city, the team created the tracking system, which they used to update each team member's status and location.
The next task was to get all teams back to pre-war productivity while at the same time putting people first. Thanks to the understanding of our partners on the product side, within the first two weeks, both account management and business development functions were back to everyday processes.
Today all people in these functions are in safe places and work at total capacity. The business development team switched its focus from automated outreach campaigns to roadshow format and has already witnessed the first successful results of this change. The teammates stay in touch daily, discussing work and personal issues.
The Techstack people function is in charge of one of our central values — People. The team takes care of the corporate people management: from the recruiting, onboarding and adaptation through regular monitoring and career development to professional growth and even offboarding. The main goal of this function is to create the perfect fit in which a person could grow within Techstack: build a career, improve his/hers knowledge and skills, and feel comfortable and safe.
Techstack people function was one of the teams responsible for preparing a Business Continuity Plan before the war: navigating the evacuation routes, setting up an emergency response process to help techstackers immediately, and coordinating possible remote work.
“The first thing I did when woke up on the first morning of the war from the sound of bombs exploding was not collecting my and my child’s belongings, but calling Ivan, the CEO, and then getting in touch with all team leaders, sending first instructions” — says Maria, Head of HR.
Maria provided significant support to the whole Techstack team, sending cheering and caring messages to the general chat, informing the team, coordinating evacuation, etc.
Other team members had quickly evacuated from Kharkiv and reached safer places within Ukraine. However, they started working even before that. The team received vacancies applications even on the first day of the war, and on the fifth day, the Techstack’s People Partner, Katya, onboarded a new team member, a Scrum Master, whose first working day had been planned before the war.
It took the people team two weeks to get to safer places and start working regularly. Due to the changed conditions, the function had to readjust its operations:
- shift their attention from recruiting to psychological care of existing team members;
- reform the team’s structure, retraining recruiters into People Partners;
- expand hiring processes onto the global labor market and adjust recruiters’ skills to a new reality.
Today the People team, located in safe places in Ukraine and abroad, is already back to regular operations: hiring new specialists, monitoring the psychological state of the rest, and processing various applications and inquiries.
The team had always been in a close informal relationship with each other. The war has made them even closer. All team members daily get in touch for professional and personal reasons, support each other and express full understanding of emotional difficulties, which can distract. Every Friday, Techstack HRs gather for an after-work online meeting.
Techstack’s communication function operates in two directions: (1) improving communication and soft skills in the company’s product development teams and for individual experts, and (2) improving the English skills of techstackers. The team organizes general English courses, classes for Business English, a speaking club, a debate club, and individually designed lessons for developers, managers, and recruiters. They also developed various soft skills training, for instance, a popular course among the company team leaders, “How to nurture newbies.” The team also constantly led audits of Techstack's accounts communication with product teams, offering the most suitable options for the improvements.
The whole team faced the war on the first day in Kharkiv and tried to leave the city within the next few days. Two team members managed to do that successfully. Still, Techstack’s English Teacher, Sveta, left Kharkiv for an even more unsafe place nearby and was blocked on the occupied territory for several weeks. Despite being captured in a military blocked city, Sveta managed to hold lessons from the basement of her house and wanted to jump into work on the first day after evacuating from there.
Like everybody in Techstack, the function put people first and spent the first days of the war evacuating themselves and helping others get away from danger. For example, the Head of the Function, Alex, managed to evacuate quite quickly and took over four other teams' guidance, helping them find transportation options and safe places to stay and navigating them through the country and abroad.
Before the war began, the team planned to onboard a new member, Daria, in the position of second English teacher. Being separated by the war, the communication team successfully onboarded a new expert remotely and quickly. In turn, Daria managed to jump into work immediately and became excellent support for the whole team.
Now the team is located in safe places in Ukraine and abroad. They are back to the prewar activity level and even exceeded it since the group became bigger. All team members keep in touch for informal occasions, too, supporting each other.
“Sveta has a birthday on the same day as her husband does. For many years, they celebrated this date together, and now the war has separated them. We wanted to cheer her up on this day and organized a secret operation involving around a dozen people helping us with the organization and logistics of her present delivery to a different country. Her students at Techstack organized different present and online birthday wishes”. — tells Alex about how they congratulated a teammate who felt alone that day.
Office Management & System Administration Function
Creating comfortable working conditions for our team has always been the main priority for the Office Management function. Before the war, this team took care of the Techstack facilities and people’s comfort at our office. The team onboarded people showing them our office space, supplied all necessary equipment, stationery, and food, and helped with computers and office furniture. When the war broke out, the Office Management function had to adjust its activities for work without an office and did it successfully.
Within the first days of the war, most people from this team managed to evacuate to safer places. One person decided to stay in Kharkiv. It took them two weeks to return to full-scale operations and regular functioning.
What changed in their work because of the war? The first new direction, which became a responsibility of this function, was the evacuation of techstackers. The team was engaged in making safe routes through Ukraine, helping with transportation, and finding safe places for our team to stay.
The second direction became taking care of our Kharkiv office remotely. The whole building was damaged during the shelling of the Kharkiv city center. A blastwave blew out the windows and doors of our office; some furniture got damaged too. The Office Management team took care of the damages and still controls the state of our office since we all look forward to getting back there as soon as possible after the war ends.
The third direction of their work became organizing new office spaces in Europe. The team researched the optimal locations, is looking for free spaces to rent and is getting ready to help techstackers move to new places where they can continue a steady work and life. Although we consider the Kharkiv office to be functional again after the victory, the company is currently preparing a new office opening in a safe region of Ukraine.
A no less important direction is system administration. Before the war, any techstacker could get immediate help with any device and its supplementarity. Now, this process has become remote but is still perfectly functional. Cybersecurity has become even more critical in remote conditions. Techstactack has always paid a lot of attention to security at each stage of our operations, but now it has become the issue of the highest importance. Our System Administrator, Sergey, thoroughly examines all processes and assures their security.
People from the Office Management & System Administration team work together and care much for each other. They keep in touch in a separate chat, planning to organize virtual team building and help each other with any difficulties the war has brought to their lives. For example, during her volunteer ride to Kharkiv, Vlada, the Office Administrator, wanted to make a surprise for Sergey, who was staying in Kharkiv and brought him a pizza from another city since it was impossible to get one in Kharkiv.
Each person at Techstack was forced to change the life and adjust to a new, complicated reality. We are proud of every techstacker since all of us are doing our best in this situation, and despite all the difficulties, we still manage to live further and grow and progress. One of Techstack’s values has always been people, and now we are even more sure that we work with exceptional people who do exceptional things.
Despite the war, Techstack keeps growing: expanding the team, adopting new partners, opening new offices and making plans for the future. Each function and crew has become even more consolidated and eager to perform better than before. We believe that by doing our best, we bring our victory closer.