Yuriy Adamchuk, Group CEO at Avenga — Leading a Team of 4,000 Professionals, Managing Global Challenges, Innovation in IT, Strategic Mergers, Digital Transformation, Global Expansion, Stakeholder Balancing, and Personal Growth Influences

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the insights of Yuriy Adamchuk, Group CEO at Avenga, a global IT engineering and consulting company comprising more than 4,000 digital transformation experts. Yuriy’s journey through executive leadership reveals strategies for managing global challenges, fostering innovation in IT, and navigating strategic mergers. His insights on digital transformation, global expansion, and balancing stakeholder interests offer a unique perspective on leading a tech giant in today’s dynamic world.

With a rich journey through various executive roles leading up to your current position as the Group CEO of Avenga, could you share some pivotal moments or decisions that significantly shaped your leadership style?

Since Avenga’s inception in 2019, we have had to navigate through turbulent waters: the COVID-19 pandemic, global disintegration, and, most recently, the horrendous war in Ukraine, to which our organization is directly exposed. All these global calamities exacerbate the complexity of the operational challenge a manager faces.

The situation resembles driving a car on a winding road with non-functional windshield brushes during heavy rain. You must make fast and efficient decisions with limited information in extremely challenging circumstances. These conditions were unimaginable just a few years ago, and there is no universal recipe for how to stay afloat. Yet, we are not looking for excuses in this environment and go above and beyond to deliver superb services that help our clients succeed.

Beyond the external factors just mentioned, the Avenga platform came together through the merger of four formerly independent companies from different countries, and we have added two more companies in the meantime. All this makes for a highly complex setup that requires a nuanced leadership approach. Realizing a very intricate buy-and-build case with delivery centers in Europe, LatAm, and Asia working for large enterprise clients and scale-ups across North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East is anything but a trivial task per se.

The key to success is recognizing the significance of cultural distinctions, whether they are due to different countries and continents or the legacy corporate cultures of our constituents. Integrating these diverse teams requires a compelling narrative that resonates with the people at the heart of our service-oriented tech business. To create such a story, you need to collaborate—a lot. This is just one of the examples that shows the importance of building a team of capable individuals around you. Especially when you reach a certain size, you need people who you can trust and delegate to.

The key to success is recognizing the significance of cultural distinctions, whether they are due to different countries and continents or the legacy corporate cultures of our constituents.

Yuriy Adamchuk

Another essential ingredient to successfully steer an organization like ours is understanding the art of the possible. As hard as it sometimes is, not all desired changes can occur immediately. Therefore, to get things done, prioritization becomes critical. Success is the product of taking many sequential steps that build on one another. If you aim to do everything at the same time, you are running a considerable risk of failure.

Avenga has a strong footprint in the realm of digital transformation. How do you ensure that the strategies devised at the top echelons of the company translate into meaningful and innovative solutions for your clients?

We place great importance on building strong partnerships and establishing ourselves as a trusted advisor. To do so, we use our accumulated experience to move way beyond the mere execution of tasks. We deeply understand our clients’ business needs and leverage our knowledge proactively to help them put technology at the core of their strategy: building innovative products, supporting them to transform their legacy IT landscape, and enabling them to run their organizations much more efficiently.

Our tagline, “Avenga is your competitive advantage,” revolves around four fundamental principles:

  1. Obsession with our Clients’ Challenges: We strive to engage with clients as early as possible in their digital journey, assembling experienced teams familiar with similar clients and issues. This positions us to address their problems swiftly and efficiently.
  2. Strong Engineering DNA: Our highly skilled, client-focused team delivers mission-critical end-to-end solutions tailored to each client’s unique challenges.
  3. Deep Industry Expertise: Our comprehensive understanding of our clients’ business domains, such as life sciences, automotive, or insurance and financial services, allows us to tackle business challenges and deliver solutions that provide a significant competitive advantage.
  4. Flexible Engagement Model: Leveraging our best-shoring capabilities, we offer clients the freedom to choose their preferred working model. Whether they prioritize cost-effectiveness, personal connections, or a combination of both, we tailor our approach to their individual preferences.

In your tenure, Avenga has seen growth and expansion into new markets. Could you discuss the approach and considerations that guide your decisions when entering new geographical or sectoral markets?

As with everything, we always take our clients’ perspectives and ask ourselves how we can improve to serve them better. Consequently, from the very beginning, we wanted to establish a global footprint to be able to work at times that are comfortable for them (ideally 24/7) while maintaining consistent service quality.

Following our merger, our initial focus was on consolidating delivery capabilities, refining processes, and strengthening our geographical footprint in regions where we were already active, mainly central and eastern Europe. This was the basic prerequisite to serve the interests of large enterprise clients at scale.

As the US has always been a key market for us, as a next step, we wanted to enhance delivery proximity to meet our clients’ expectations for seamless collaboration. To operate in the same time zone, we sought a suitable company in LATAM as part of our expansion strategy. The subsequent acquisition of the Argentinian-based IT powerhouse formerly known as IncluIT allows us to bridge time zone gaps and provide clients with more convenient, localized support.

Managing a global team of 4,000 professionals is no small feat. How do you foster a culture of innovation and adaptability across different regions and teams within Avenga?

In order to stay relevant in the software engineering and consulting business, you need to remain ahead of technological advances – which are happening very fast. Our organizational design was crafted to suit these aspirations. Obviously, to leverage scale, you first require access to a high-quality and consistent pool of talent that can work as part of cross-country multifunctional teams serving our clients’ interests.

On top of that, Avenga’s organizational structure includes a global engineering team and a dedicated technical consulting group. They serve as vigilant observers of changes in the rapidly evolving digital landscape. Their role is to ensure that we keep pace with advancements and consistently offer state-of-the-art solutions to our clients.

You have notable experience in overseeing private equity-backed investments, mergers, and acquisitions. Could you share some insights or lessons learned from navigating the post-acquisition integration phase?

Whoever is the owner, be it a financial sponsor (private equity) or strategic investor, you need a strategy and a detailed value creation path. Our approach towards integration manifests itself in our strategy.

Generally speaking, there are two extreme methods towards integration: one involves running a portfolio and maintaining distinct companies under one umbrella. Alternatively, you can strive to establish a comprehensive integration of businesses into a unified platform. By doing so, you create the necessary prerequisites to capitalize on scale, leveraging the collective strengths of the entire organization and generating synergies. In our case, the strategy was to create a truly global platform with sizable engineering muscles, common quality standards, and the ability to serve enterprise clients across their geographies.

When you start working on your integration journey, you need to have a plan connected to your company’s strategy. And it’s advisable to first address the areas with the highest synergetic effect. This is where the magic happens. For us, the key pillars were introducing a new brand, building one pool of talent, a set of global offerings, a common vocabulary, and success measurement criteria. Another vital aspect is working on quick wins to show the team the integration’s benefits and demonstrate the scale’s power at work.

There is no need to say that establishing a unified organizational identity is essential to the integration strategy. This entails cultivating a shared DNA, common values, and agreed-upon standards and processes. Fostering a cohesive, cooperative environment maximizes the potential for success.

The IT sector is in a constant state of flux, given the rapid technological advancements. How do you ensure that Avenga stays ahead of the curve in providing value to its clients amidst this evolving landscape?

To fulfill our clients’ needs and requirements, we adopt a tailored approach for every project. We closely collaborate with our clients to understand their specific needs, goals, and expectations. This allows us to design and implement solutions that align perfectly with their unique requirements.

Furthermore, we embrace an iterative approach, recognizing the importance of staying informed about our clients’ challenges and possible changes. Regular check-ins help us understand evolving needs, and we continuously assess how technology can be used to help them. We use our R&D incubators to work on novel ideas and concepts and develop workable solutions that solve the challenges our clients face.

Your bio mentions a strong emphasis on stakeholder engagement. How do you balance the diverse interests of clients, partners, employees, and investors in formulating and executing Avenga’s strategy?

Modern enterprises must behave as good corporate citizens and making the world a better place entails working with multiple stakeholders, including clients, employees, and shareholders. Often, the interests of these groups conflict with one another. Thus, you have to present convincing arguments to establish alignment and find compromises.

Our strategy reflects this multi-stakeholder agenda. We have our budget to deliver ambitious numbers, which also includes investment in our people to meet our clients’ ever-rising expectations. That’s why we, for example, invest in comprehensive employee training, robust diversity and inclusion programs, and proactive health initiatives.

However, as a robust and compassionate company, our responsibility stretches far beyond the confines of our office walls, and we have the means and the obligation to be a force for good. The examples of our community engagement and support of humanitarian causes are vast and involve various endeavors, with volunteering and supporting local causes at the center of it.

Due to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, many of our projects revolve around helping those affected by the war. Through private initiatives and the support of our company, we have invested to keep our colleagues and their families safe and alleviate the suffering of many people who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own.

With a background in conflict resolution from George Mason University, how has this academic experience translated into your approach towards change management and integration within Avenga?

It has taught me how important it is to understand individuals’ intrinsic needs and motivations. To resolve a conflict, you must first know what each involved party wants and ticks.

The lasting impact this gained knowledge has had on me, up to this day, is my unshakeable belief that the alignment of motivations is crucial for achieving goals collaboratively as a team. That’s why we are continuously looking for individuals who share Avenga’s DNA and are intrinsically motivated to help execute our value-creation path.

Your trajectory from various C-level positions at Avenga to now leading the company showcases a vast breadth of operational insight. How has your holistic understanding of the company’s operations informed your vision and strategy for Avenga?

Indeed, I have progressed through various C-level positions, from Country Director for US/Ukraine to Chief of Delivery and Integration to finally COO and now CEO. This path has allowed me to gain profound insights into different facets of the business. It enables me to view our company holistically through operational, financial, and sales lenses and helps me to understand diverse challenges and requirements.

As someone passionate about creating value and driving growth in the IT sector, what trends or developments are you most excited about, and how is Avenga positioning itself to leverage these opportunities?

Any of today’s thriving enterprises has put technology at the core of its strategy. I would even say that every company must become a tech company nowadays. Let’s take the S&P 500 as an example. The digital revolution has reshaped it dramatically. And who is at the top? Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, NVIDIA, and Amazon. They are the big five, and the tech sector as a whole dominates this index by a wide margin.

The trend is clear, especially as the average lifespan of companies on the S&P 500 is getting shorter and shorter. Since 2000, more than half of the Fortune 500 companies have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or ceased to exist. Usually, they didn’t sufficiently use technology to modernize and become more efficient. Thus, they were overrun by their competition that suddenly could come from all angles and emerge all over the world because technology transcends borders.

It’s widely known that companies that embrace data-driven approaches stand to perform much better than those that don’t. For example, a recent IDC whitepaper found that data-savvy companies reported a threefold increase in revenue improvement, almost tripling the likelihood of reduced time to market for new products and services. Moreover, there was more than a twofold rise in the likelihood of improved customer satisfaction, profits, and operational efficiency. Yet, despite its importance, still only a minority of companies describe themselves as data-driven.

Obviously, through the breakthroughs in AI, particularly in natural language processing and powerful reasoning engines, we are experiencing a transformative moment. At Avenga, we are excited about the chances this development brings. We provide our clients with tools that allow them to benefit from AI as well as other data-driven practices and consequently enhance their productivity, unlock new opportunities, and make the most of their growth potential.

What are some of the top books that have significantly helped you in your career, and what key takeaways from them have you applied in your executive roles?

I read a lot, so it’s hard to say. But if I had to pick one that not only helped me throughout my career but also influenced me profoundly on a personal level, it would be Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In this book, Frankl shares his experience as a prisoner in several concentration camps. Furthermore, he introduces logotherapy, which is based on the human desire to find meaning in life and laid the foundation for positive psychology. Based on his experience of how he and others survived under the most horrible conditions, the Austrian psychologist shows that our mindset shapes the quality of our lives and that, with the right attitude, humans can overcome almost every obstacle.

Generally, I learned a lot from reading the Stoics, and I especially enjoy Marcus Aurelius’ “Meditations.” There is so much in it. It teaches the importance of focusing on what is within our control and doing our best while accepting with serenity what we cannot influence. Also, he advocates self-reflection and introspection as tools for understanding oneself, controlling one’s reactions, and achieving personal growth. As a Roman Emperor, very likely the most powerful man at that time, he reflected on leadership responsibilities and emphasized the idea of working for the common good and fulfilling one’s obligations to society.

In a nutshell, Frankl proved, at least to me, that ultimately, it’s struggles and challenges that show who we truly are and what we are capable of, while Aurelius inspires his readers to live a life of virtue and moral integrity by striving to be just, honest, and compassionate.

Who are some of the individuals who have significantly influenced your leadership approach or whom you follow for fresh perspectives?

Rather than pointing to a single person, I would say that I draw influence from a diverse array of individuals. Almost every encounter can offer valuable lessons. Therefore, I always try to maintain an open mind and listen. Recognizing that our backgrounds shape our outlooks, I appreciate that different individuals may approach challenges differently. And that’s a good thing.

As life is a continuous learning experience, even encounters that may seem unproductive or are entirely unpleasant at the time they are happening can teach you a lot for the future. Actually, they often provide the most profound insights. At the end of the day, it’s almost always the same: learning starts where your comfort zone ends.

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