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"Turning disruption into opportunity" - Lyuda Kravchuk, Senior Manager, Transaction Advisory Services at EY

Five years ago, with Ukraine in the midst of a political and economic crisis, Lyuda Kravchuk took ownership of her dreams and turned the disruption to her opportunity. Having worked for EY in Kyiv before, Lyuda continues her career aspirations at EY Netherlands in Zuidas. Today, Amsterdam tops her list of favorite cities and she loves living and working here. She's also actively involved in the city's expat community, and says that integrating in the Netherlands has never been a problem for her. We talked with Lyuda about her work at EY and life as an expat in Amsterdam. 'Six years ago, I had no idea that I'd wind up in the Netherlands. Life is unpredictable, and brings you to the most unexpected places. Unexpected to extent you learn to own and enjoy the changes ahead of you.'

Can you tell us something about your job at EY?

'As senior manager of Transaction Advisory Services at EY's Amsterdam o ice, I'm part of the Transaction Support team. I help corporate as well as private equity clients with the assessment of companies they plan to acquire or sell, whether it be in the Netherlands or in other countries around the world. Our clients' aim is to allocate capital in most e icient way possible, and I help them derive maximum value from transactions by minimizing risks, assessing acquisition opportunities and maxi- mizing value upon disposal. Mainly I perform due diligence, assess carve-outs and assist with sales and purchase agreements.'

How long have you been with EY in Zuidas, and what led you to come here?
'I have been here for more than five years now. Before coming to the Netherlands, I worked at EY Kyiv - which by the way is the official Ukrainian transliteration, as opposed to the commonly used 'Kiev'. In 2012, Ukraine was in economic and political crisis, provoked by the 2008 global financial crisis. Investors were steering clear of Ukraine and I had to make a choice: either change careers or move to a country with a healthier investment climate. Because I really enjoy my job, I went for the latter option and soon found an opening at EY Amsterdam. It was a win-win situation for everyone - I got to continue doing what I love and EY was able to fill a vacancy as it is challenging to find an expert with the same level of experience locally.'

Do you see many differences between EY Netherlands and EY Ukraine?
'Actually no, I don't, despite what you might expect. EY is a global company and the methodologies, tools and systems are the identical all over the world. We attend the same trainings and have lots of opportunities for networking and exchanging knowledge. EY's goal is to deliver seamless high-quality services to clients, irrespective of location - whether that's Ukraine, the Netherlands, the USA, Thailand or Peru. I work with other EY o ices all over the globe, and it's amazing really how EY's commitment to quality enables us to under- stand each other. Also, whereas other companies in Ukraine tend to have a rigid hierarchy, that's not true of EY. At EY we have a culture of open communication with the leaders; an open-door policy where you can simply walk into your team leader's o ice to discuss topics that interest or concern you. That's the same at both EY Ukraine and EY Netherlands. That openness really motivates and inspires me.'

What do you think of Amsterdam, and of Zuidas in particular?

'Amsterdam is one of my favourite cities anywhere. I love the ambiance of the place, with its beautiful canals that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List and the uniform brick houses. I can walk or cycle through the city endlessly and still discover new, hidden places. Amsterdam has activities that cater to every taste, from opera and ballet to trance parties, and from world-class art and history museums to the Artis zoo. You can go barbequeing in Vondelpark or spending a day at Blijburg beach in the north or you can rent a boat and have a pleasant evening out on the canals. If Amsterdam is the Venice of the north, I think it is also fair to call Venice the Amsterdam of the south! Zuidas is a very vibrant part of the city - you could call it the Manhattan of Amsterdam. It has lively bars and restaurants where I like to take business partners or colleagues for lunch or dinner, or where I like to go to relax a er work. The proximity of the airport and good connections with other parts of the city attract lots of businesses, and the ambitious plans for new o ice buildings and fancy apartment complexes are making it that much more attractive, also as a place to live. Plus, all the thought that's going into reducing the environmental footprint sets a great example for other business districts around the world.'

What is your experience with the Amsterdam expat community?
'It is quite extensive really, as I have lots of expats among my friends and colleagues. Also, I've been an ambassador of a global expat organization, for nearly three years. Through volunteering with that organization allowed me to meet a lot of expats and also Dutchies, who got involved with the community while living or travelling abroad. It's an opportunity to exchange experiences and learn from  each other. Beyond that, expat communities let you 'travel the world' by meeting people from around the globe, learning about various cultures and mentalities, finding business partners and of course exchanging travel tips!'

Was it diffcult to get accustomed to life in the Netherlands?
'People often ask me that question... No, it was not di icult at all. Having studied and worked in the US and Canada, I was already used to living abroad, to adjusting to cultural di erences and communicating with various cultures. When I moved here, I also learned about the cultural dimensions model developed by Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social psychologist who used to work at IBM. This model ranks cultural di erences on six dimensions - power distance, individualism vs. collectivism, uncertainty avoidance index, masculinity vs. femininity, long-term orientation vs. short-term orientation, indulgence vs. restraint - and by applying this model, I became very aware of the cultural di erences between the Netherlands and Ukraine. I think you should always stay true to yourself, but adjusting to the local culture and customs helps you to integrate faster. When in Rome, do as the Romans do!'

What are your plans for the future? Will you stay in Amsterdam, or might you return to Ukraine?
'There is a saying: if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. Six years ago, I had no idea that I would wind up in the Netherlands. Life is unpredictable, and brings you to the most unexpected places. I do feel a very deep connection to the Ukraine. It's my country, and I feel a lot of pain when I see the conflict that's still going on there. I believe Ukraine has a great future. It is one of the largest European countries, about the size of Germany geographically, with a population of 45 million. With an abundance of educated, talented people, natural resources, farmland, rich history and huge possibilities for tourism, Ukraine has immense economic potential. As a Ukrainian, I feel that my mission is to spread the word about my beautiful country and the wonderful people of Ukraine. So, for now, my plan is to stay here in Amsterdam, my second home.'

How do you keep in touch with your family?

'Fortunately, modern technology makes it easy and cheap to keep in touch. I use di erent VOIP services: Skype, Viber and WhatsApp. My family comes to visit me in Amsterdam from time to time and I return to the Ukraine once or twice a year. I have a twin sister who currently lives in Zürich and we visit each other a lot, since it's only an hour's flight away.'

What do you think about the image of the 'Big 4'?

'I am very proud to work in this industry. I know people at all the Big 4 companies, in various service lines, and they are all very professional, hardworking, intelligent and interesting people. You could say that the Big 4 are a kind of 'school' from which many future CFOs and executives 'graduate'.'

Can you tell us anything about EY's plans for the future?

'EY is closely monitoring current global megatrends - the transformative trends shaping society through their impact on businesses, economies, industries and communities. Take for example, the way that technology and robotics are changing the role of human labour, how access to information is changing consumer behaviour, and how A.I. and data analytics are changing decision-making processes. By accumulating expertise about these megatrends and other disruptive forces, EY aims to inspire its employees, clients and other stakeholders to think ahead and to seek better solutions, so we can turn disruption into opportunity. In our fast-paced environment, only those who are alert will survive and thrive.'