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Understanding Team Bonds and Dynamics: Interview with Alina Sushytska

From digital solutioning to developing new innovations: vestr is a technology company formed by a highly motivated and dedicated group of experienced experts.

At vestr, we believe that a team is the core of every company, and the driving force that leads organisations to greater heights.

In our previous interview with Nicola Gerwig, Client Integration Manager at vestr, we learned about his experience forming new teams beyond borders and also how he onboarded Client Support Manager, Alina Sushytska, and brought her up to speed.

Even before the pandemic, vestr has always operated digitally. Being a resilient digital native, vestr’s cloud-based solution and tech-savvy team provides adaptability into switching to a remote workstyle and ease of international collaboration. Through coordinating virtual team alignments on a regular basis, vestr ensures team members are kept up to date on any business development or platform progress.

Hence, with a rapidly expanding international team, we seek to learn how we can maintain adaptability and strengthen team dynamics. For this, we spoke with Alina, our Client Support Manager, who joined the team in September 2021 and who was based in Ukraine at the time of our Interview in February 2022.

“vestr is a very promising company with rapid development and strong respectful attitude to its members.”

Alina Sushytska, Client Support Manager

First of all, could you elaborate on what you do at vestr?

I focus on client support. So, on a typical day I tackle incoming client tickets and requests, either on my own or through coordination amongst the tech experts and developers at vestr. What that means is that I respond to tickets directly and only communicate important tickets to the rest of the team to resolve any client issues that require further technical solutions. Through developing support documentation and new processes, my goal is to develop a fully independent Support team. Whereby we are able to handle issue resolution independently by not relying too much on other departments for assistance.

How does team engagement look like?

Besides work, I also spent time with the Lviv team socially. At least while this was still possible before the Russian invasion. These included off-site events and having lunch together. Lunch usually involved a small group of 6 people and for larger scale events it usually included 10 to 12 colleagues. The most memorable events for me took place last year: the Hackathon in November and the bowling party in December. Usually a more elaborate event occurs once per 1 to 1.5 months. But the team used to have lunch together more often during pre-covid period. Up to 3-4 times per week – for those who are working from the office.

Usually Tom (our team lead) takes the lead in suggesting places when in an informal setting, and they are mostly brief spontaneous discussions. Now, Alina Kaleniuk, our HR Manager, takes care of organising team-building parties. She announces the event and holds a vote in advance and everyone who wants to join votes for their most desired option. After that, the place is booked.

For the Hackathon event, Tom was in charge and developed the entire program. This included projects, number of participants, desired outcome description. At the beginning of the Hackathon itself, he shared the list of projects with us. Then, we split into groups depending on the interest in the certain topic and our previous and relevant expertise.

What drew you to your role at vestr?

When I first got in touch with vestr I learned about their ambition to create a whole new client process. I got excited about the new possibility.
For my previous company, I had been working for a long time (6 years) and found this proposal was a good chance for me to take on a new set of challenges. Learning that I had the opportunity to build the Support process from scratch, I quickly jumped on the offer. But what really had me sold was the team spirit after visiting the Ukraine office for the first time.
Honestly, I was very impressed with the friendly atmosphere and ease of interaction with the team in the office.

From corporate to start-up life, what were the biggest changes you faced?

Coming from a procurement support background, it was a simple switch for me in terms of the technical scope of work. Work patterns and culture were the biggest changes for me, as I came from a large multinational. These changes include differences in schedules for example. My previous job demanded evening shifts from 3pm to midnight. As a night owl, I had gotten used to this working arrangement. However at vestr, we follow our clients’ working hours which often run from 8am-6pm on weekdays, and this means a more organised sleep schedule for me. I also found the start-up culture to be very different. Communication and strategies were more agile as vestr is still developing many processes. This has allowed me to take on a more prominent role in the creation of these processes.

Given the domestic COVID-19 restrictions, I mostly worked from home when I first joined. Since most interactions were with the Zurich team, there was little physical interaction with them. As Nicola came to visit the Ukrainian team in Lviv, I also thought it would be a good idea to make it a two-way business trip. So, I visited the Zurich team in Switzerland and learn from them in-person.

How then, did your trip to Zurich help with your relationship-building with the team?

The trip helped me gain a clearer picture of their character and personality. Step by step, I started to understand them better. For example if they are joking in their messages on our communication platform. I started to perceive them as real people with real emotions, not just random avatars sending messages in our chat. As a result, I experienced this change in perception, and felt closer to the team and our bond grew stronger.

Before Ivan, our newest tech-support specialist, joined in December 2021, I was the only member of the Clients team based in Ukraine. Hence, I thought it would be a good idea to put faces to the names on screen. In this era of globalisation, companies grow rapidly interconnected and there is more flexibility of work through digital means. However, this can sometimes mean that personal contact is lacking. Therefore, I took the opportunity to meet the Zurich team in person and also visit Switzerland for the first time. The trip definitely helped me to understand my teammates better and ease relations. Overall, I had a great time connecting with the rest of the Clients as well as the Product Team.

This brings us to the next point: how did you find integrating into the client’s team as a remote member?

In general, if a process is well-established, it is easier to get a job done smoothly. During my time in Zurich, Nicola was very open in sharing.
For getting up to speed with support processes, Nicola involved me in many support matters from the get-go and swiftly helped me to develop my understanding of the product. Despite the fact that active investment management was a new field for me. I would say that one of his superpowers is conducting training and explaining processes in a way that one can easily comprehend.

Personal integration was a bit more difficult – you do not have the privilege of that personal touch if you work remotely from your colleagues. Only when you meet them in real life, do you get to observe them; their body language and expressions, and also share your thoughts (sometimes even personal ones) with them. Eventually, this allows us to establish a special connection, which helps us to stay connected and on the same page.

Would you recommend that work teams should experience each other’s offices, especially when they work out of different regions?

I would recommend such practice for sure. Firstly, it’s a super interesting experience, no matter whether you are travelling to meet your co-workers, or you host them and spend time together. 

Secondly, we must also factor in the financial implications such as the cost of travel, hence I would say the business need for such visits should not be disregarded. 

It definitely helps with trust and connection when you meet the teammates that you regularly work with (or have many touch points with). Especially in an informal setting, as you can find out more about them and create this personal touch.

With the Client Support Team in full speed, what are the upcoming plans for this year?

My goal for the Client Support Team is three-fold. Firstly, to outline our current goals.
Secondly, to make our potential room for improvement more visible through tracking of our progress.
And finally, to enhance the support documentation and processes, so that the process becomes structured and easy to understand, for both existing members and newcomers.

Thank you for these great insights, Alina. If you enjoyed this glimpse into our work at vestr, we invite you to follow us on LinkedIn for receiving updates about our team and product!

Should you be curious about joining our team, please reach out and check our open positions in the EU and Switzerland.

For more insights into team updates, press releases, industry trends and more, check out other articles on our Media page!