Svetlana Liubetskaya is a tech professional with over 15 years of experience in computer science and artificial intelligence, and she has recently arrived in Ireland from Ukraine, looking to make a new start.
Our conversation starts with Lana telling me that her decision to move country was forced after her house in Ukraine was destroyed because of the war being waged by Russian forces.
Having spent a number of years in project management and software management, Lana currently works for Itera Research, a full-stack web and mobile development firm in Ukraine that is focused on helping businesses grow. In spite of the ongoing war, the company remains in operation, and amazingly they are focused on keeping their clients satisfied.
Life in Ukraine is continuing for many – somehow. Like her father and her mother. Lana tells me that she regularly phones them to find out how they are. She speaks about her father who is in his 70s; their phone conversations focus on how he is taking care of his garden. Now and again, the sound of rockets will interrupt their conversation, but her father tells her not to worry.
“For sure, I am worried about it a lot, and I cried a lot for sure, but it is what it is, and now let’s continue doing something good in this world.”
Now, Lana lives in Ballinrobe, County Mayo, with her son, and she is keen to make the most of a new beginning. Lana is enjoying life in the west of Ireland. Her son has already made so many friends, and she has had the opportunity to go surfing in the sea during her down time.
In her professional world, tech has been something Lana has always been profoundly interested in, and having run a successful light business for a time, she returned to that first love.
“I came back to IT because it was my passion, actually since childhood, because I started coding when I was around 12 – just for fun with my cousins. We played games with random numbers and I created code for these games to show people pictures, just for fun. I didn’t play games a lot, but I liked it for creating something, and that’s why I came back to this industry,” Lana explains.
She also says that she has been particularly focused on the digital transformation of companies throughout her career – helping organisations to embrace technology.
“I personally participated in the digital transformation of a factory – their processes. I also did this in the governmental sector which is a big challenge because they are very slow, they don’t want to change everything. They like to sign papers – keeping pen and paper – and they would do this for the next 20 years if they could, but we found a way, though it was not easy!”
Indeed, Lana is focused on how the tech industry can solve problems, not only through start-ups but through communities keen to harness the power of tech for broader, inclusive missions.
In Ukraine, Lana explains that this pursuit is becoming increasingly popular, through the likes of Unit City [unit.city] which gathers start-ups together to drive innovation, create a comprehensive mission, and build an environment that helps the community, the city, and the surrounding areas to solve broader problems that affect lots of people.
Lana points to the notion that it is too easy for people to concentrate on just the tech, without realising that the tech is simply a means to and end.
“The technology is just a tool. If you know how to use it, that’s great, and you can spend less money, using the money [you saved] to do something else, to support the business, and grow the business. The most important thing is to solve the problem, the main problem of the business.”
And Lana is keen to tackle one big challenge throughout her career in tech – how to make sure that we harness its power for good and not for bad.
“It can be a medicine, or a treatment, or a system, and it can be a weapon…our human challenge is to find a way to use it for good things,” she says.
By Trevor Murray