Ukrainian native Nataliia Yakushko, a doctoral student in strategy, entrepreneurship and organizations at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, was trying to help her cousin find training for a pharmaceutical company in Ukraine. When she asked Jennifer Rittenhouse about it, the assistant professor of practice in management and entrepreneurship and director of the Greg and Lisa Smith Global Leadership Scholars immediately volunteered her services.
“When Nataliia reached out, I said, ‘Absolutely. Please let me help,’” Rittenhouse says.
With 3,000 employees, Arterium is one of the largest pharmaceutical firms in Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of its homeland, Arterium, like most Ukrainian companies, is spending its budget on the free transfer of supplies to soldiers and hospitals. Its workforce is displaced and scattered to different locations but carrying on. Yakuhsko’s cousin, Olga Nazaruk, a training and development manager for Arterium, said that after a month of war, they realized they needed to continue to develop their staff. The firm approached their partners abroad, to whom it had previously paid money for training, but none stepped forward to volunteer.
“Jennifer immediately agreed and suggested different topics for a webinar,” Nazaruk says.
To help Arterium’s people both cope with current stress and advance their professional development, Rittenhouse proposed a modified change management training course, trying to recognize and minimize the havoc and uncertainty living in wartime causes.
“They’re in the middle of a war,” Rittenhouse says. “I tried to filter the training through the lens of, ‘What would their employees need? What would the top managers need?’ to help them through the crisis. They’re not sure what their future looks like. I put myself in that mode to think through the training.”
The resulting class was delivered remotely for about 50 members of top and middle management, including the CEO.
“I was impressed with her approach to training,” Nazaruk says. “It was extremely useful and practical. We are now implementing the methods Jennifer told us about, and we plan to conduct a series of practical workshops on our own.”
That was not the only outcome of Yakuhsko’s efforts. Jessica Jones, an assistant professor in management and entrepreneurship, volunteered to lead Arterium managers in a discussion on leadership, focusing on leading through times of uncertainty and crisis and times of well-being. The talk is planned for later in the year.
“This is a tangible opportunity to support individuals and organizations who, based on current circumstances, have few resources and opportunities for professional development,” Jones says.
Rittenhouse hopes others will step up to assist Ukraine in whatever way they can.
“We all have little bits we can give,” she says. “I have knowledge and experience I can share. You never know what impact even a little bit of giving can have.”
Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, firstname.lastname@example.org