Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

Andy & Alexandra Discuss Ukraine

In 2012, I hired a Ukrainian web development firm. At the time, they had a dozen employees and offered an array of technical services my company needed. My initial project manager, Alexandra, was one of their company founders. She was ambitious, highly competent, and just as important, likable.

As their company grew from 12 people to ~200 employees, Alexandra moved from project management for individual clients to management of the company. Yet, over the years, we maintained contact and developed an unlikely friendship.

I have traveled to Kiev three times (2017, 2018, 2019). Each time, my web developers were gracious hosts. They entertained me in the evenings and showed me some of the wonderful Ukrainian heritage, culture, food, and chocolate. Let’s not forget the chocolate, nor roaming the streets of Kiev by myself after midnight.

In 2022, things turned for the worse for the Ukrainian people. As Russian forces amassed on the border, I urged Alexandra to leave the country, knowing that the first thing to close upon invasion would be the airport. Fortunately, she scheduled a vacation and traveled to Sri Lanka just days before the Russian invasion.

After Sri Lanka, she stayed with us in Austin for three months (Summer of 2022).

We converged in-person again in Sweden in 2023 and most recently in Austin (March 2024) for a few days. While in Austin just a few weeks ago, Alexandra and I recorded a conversation in my home office, an impromptu test podcast with no particular agenda. With the help of my son (Soren) doing some quick video editing, we cobbled together select clips from this conversation. I thought my audience at Past Midway would be interested to hear a “direct from source” perspective, which is always my preference and a theme of my research.1


00:00 – Introduction and Personal Experience in Ukraine

02:38 – Living in a War Zone

04:55 – Ukrainian History & the Revolution of Dignity

07:08 – Impact of the Revolution on Business

08:39 – Company Growth and Sale

09:56 – Crimea

13:13 – Two Stories of Crimea

16:36 -Understanding the Complexities

19:35 -Potential Expansion of Russian Aggression

21:49 – Language and Cultural Identity

24:20 – Foreign Policy Considerations

25:53 – Outro (& How All My Friends Treat Me)

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  1. For editing expediency, we just removed sections that got too long or off topic, our specialty. Please forgive the sudden transitions in a few places where we made cuts.


  • Thank you Alexandra for sharing your experience and insights. Delightful and intelligent conversation about a difficult and heartbreaking subject. Thanks Andy for thinking to share this with all of us.

  • Interesting video, it is good to hear a first hand account of the conflict.
    So much more to this story than we hear from the media.
    Great job with the questions Andy, and Alexandra did an incredible job answering what would have been difficult for most.

  • Alexandra, thank you for opening up about such a challenging topic. Your insight provides a deeper understanding about a unique part of the world during a unique moment in history. Andy, great interview. Informative, but without an agenda. A rare find these days. Tell that Soren guy that his edits were superb.

By Andy Jones
Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

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