The “Iron Valley” of Eastern Europe

at May 29th, 2012

I had a great pleasure to come to Kiev, Ukraine for the second time in last couple of months. First time it was for XPDays Ukraine, this time around it was for SeleniumCamp.

To quote David Burns, @AutomatedTester, “Soon to give another talk in Kiev, this city is buzzing with automators!”

This is quite an exciting development for me personally, because this is far removed from the technology level for an ex-Soviet Bloc country. When I moved from Russia to the US in the mid-90’s, a computer was something you only saw in Hollywood movies. I remember the first time I saw a computer, and was allowed to play what I now believe is Q*Bert, I knew I was hooked!

Unlike the majority of my co-workers who are my age, I did not get to build my first Hello World at the age of seven; I had to wait until 16 to do that. My personal experience is pretty much typical for Soviet Bloc kids. But now that our Russian and Ukrainian peers got their hands on the same technology as the rest of the world, they are not wasting time “catching up” because they already have caught up.

During these conferences I got a chance to meet with dozens of people who work for small software shops around here. Talking to them is like talking to any Silicon Valley start up employee. They are heavy on Agile, they love automation, do sprints/iterations or whatever you wanna call them in your team. They even have the same gripes about managers who demand too many features, while not giving enough time.

All of this progress paired with a pretty good handle on the English language by your average Joe or Ivan, if you wanna use an old school stereotype, is starting to make this area “Iron Valley” or maybe “Mother Valley.”

I’m excited to see what new companies will come out of this area. The next Google might be right around the corner, but in the mean time if you are looking to hire some contractors, you can do a lot worse than these guys.

According to this Forbes article, as the economic climate improves in the former Soviet Bloc states, a lot of the brain-drain which happened in the 90’s will start to reverse. The Iron Valley can become the dream work place for the geeks of eastern Europe, like Silicon Valley is for US geeks.

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One thought on “The “Iron Valley” of Eastern Europe

  1. Hello Dima, I'm Gleb and I'm also from Russia. I moved to Toronto, Canada just 2 years ago and work as a Java Developer now. You maid a really good point about talented young developers in Russia and Ukraine. That's very true. However with regards to Russia - lots of people think that all of those young professionals are concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg but I would say - there is just a half of all talented young men in Russia in terms of IT industry. I myself come from Far East of Russia - from the city of Khabarovsk. I know from my own experience that there are tons of talented developers in my city who can do really amazing stuff. They don't have opportunity to study Computer Science in some great universities with well known names, they have to study computer science by themselves from books and Internet (God bless Internet =)) but their skills are simply not needed in that region of the country and they don't have money to go to western part of Russia or abroad. So they end up working as freelancers for peanuts at best or as movers or security guards at worst (keeping development as a hobby). Please keep in mind as well that starting your own web project in Russia is not so simple as it may seem unfortunately. I got lucky - my parents had some money and I had a great chance to go to Canada and apply my skills. I would never have this kind of job back home. I hope this will change in time. Good luck with all of your endeavors. P.S. It's really good to hear that my fellow Russian is also showing the world how to develop stuff =))

    by Gleb on October 18, 2012 at 8:08 pm

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