»When the bombs began to fall, I was on the phone 24/7«

»When the bombs began to fall, I was on the phone 24/7«

Netcompany consultant Anton Kovyakh needed some time off when the bombs began to fall on Ukraine. Now, he is using IT to help the Ukrainian State win the war against Russia.

Anton Kovyakh grew up in Ukraine, Kharkiv. The town, the second-largest city in Ukraine, lies close to the Russian border. “Uncomfortably close,” as Anton puts it.

Back then, Ukraine was just another Eastern European country. When his mother, Svitlana, secured a job in Denmark, and Anton was a teenager, that was still the case.

Anton has now spent half his life in Denmark. He is 33 years old and works as an IT consultant at Netcompany in Copenhagen. In 2014, Ukraine was no longer just another Eastern European Country. And at dawn, on the 24th of February 2022, Ukraine became forever different. Denmark was suddenly a place far, far away from home.

Anton wearing a traditional Ukranian suit.

Anton wearing a traditional Ukranian suit.

When the bombs began to fall

»I was on the phone 24/7. I almost saw in real-time via video chat how a friend got a Russian missile shot into his yard«, Anton explains.

Anton continued to work on his IT project in Netcompany – one about the future of traffic signals – right up until he didn’t.

»I had a friend in Ukraine with a 5-year-old daughter, so I wanted to help them with… something, just something. And after a few weeks, I said ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t manage my work’«.

Anton returned to work after a month.

»My team  was very supportive«.

Today, Anton dedicates a significant portion of his energy to helping Netcompany aid Ukraine in its fight for freedom.

On helping Ukraine as an IT-consultant

»A popular opinion is that the state is doing enough to help Ukraine. But I don’t think that’s true. The state is doing a lot, but private companies can do a lot as well«.

What exactly can a large IT company, let alone an IT consultant, do?

Right now, Anton is working on an operational case management system for the Danish Road Directorate. A system like that can be used to streamline Ukraine’s supply chains.

»Logistics is everything«, as Anton explains.

Other valuable assets such as Netcompany’s customs system can help re-build Ukraine.

»We have a lot of concrete software packages that can be quickly rolled out«, Anton says.

Anton has become a successful IT consultant. It was, however, not in the cards that Anton was to be an IT consultant.

Anton in front of the Ukranian flag.

Anton captured at 'The Ukranian House' in Copenhagen.

From catalytic particles to IT

When Anton watched Back to the Future as a child, his favourite character was not Marty, but Doc Brown.

»Other people wanted to be astronauts. I wanted to be a scientist«.

Anton studied nanotechnology at The University of Copenhagen, followed by a PhD in physics in conjunction with the Danish Technological Institute . Here, he co-authored the article Structure analysis of supported disordered molybdenum oxides using pair distribution function analysis and automated cluster modelling in the Journal of Applied Crystallography.

He got to work on 3D printing and catalytic materials in New York, and his career was primed to continue within the bounds of academia. Still, he was not fully satisfied.

»To be successful in academia, you must be very lucky.  And I realized that I would have probably reached the peak of my career at 28 as a specialist at DTI«.

When Anton returned from New York, he started to work on digitising factories in Denmark, and that was Anton’s first touch with the world of IT.

Anton had friends in Netcompany – physicist friends, that is. Add to that that Netcompany offered Anton a contract quicker than any other company, and Anton was set to replace a physics career with a career in IT.

According to Anton, physicists might not be the most skilled programmers, but they have the right analytical mindset.

»I felt that this was a place I could navigate in. That if I had good relationships, I could always get to where I wanted to be«.

Today, Anton’s goal is not necessarily to climb the corporate ladder endlessly.

»Rather, I would like to be involved in making decisions at the level that interests me the most«.

Right now, that level is helping Netcompany support Ukraine.

Anton at the Ukranian House in Copenhagen.

About the Ukraine project and what it takes to be a good consultant

»It means a great deal to me that Netcompany supports Ukraine«, Anton explains.

Right now, however, Anton is practicing patience.

»I was disappointed that our efforts were moving slowly in  November, and December. But now we’re in May, and I’m glad we’re still going strong«, Anton explains.

Anton, slowly, is becoming friends with the Ukrainian Ambassador in Copenhagen,

Besides working on sending software packages across borders, Anton supports Ukrainian culture as much as he can.

»It’s what gives people their identity, and what our neighbours are trying to destroy«.

The cultural centre in Ukraine, called the cultural palace for children and young people, was hit by a Russian missile in the early weeks of the war last year.

The art museum in Kherson was hit, too. Today, only two paintings are left.

»Those things cannot be renovated«, Anton says.

Anton visits the Ukrainian House in Copenhagen as often as he can.

And then, sometimes, he goes completely underwater.

In the middle of Øresund, there is a tanker at a depth of 26 meters.

Sometimes, Anton manoeuvres inside that tanker wearing a diver’s suit. He’s using what he learned as an 11-year-old in Kharkiv from a couple of retired military submarine divers.

Most of the time, however, he works on really demanding problems. Re-building Ukraine, keeping its culture alive, and keeping the Danish roads safe.

“Part of a good consultant mindset is wanting to challenge the boundaries of the tasks you get. I don't know everything, but I know that my network knows a lot about specific things. And then I can find a better solution than I can deliver myself. It's hard. But in the end, it pays off.”
Anton Kovyakh

Netcompany consultant