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Ukrainian refugee secures Bristol telecoms role

A Ukrainian refugee has secured a senior engineering role with a major UK telecoms provider, after escaping Russian aggression.

Dmytro, his wife and his two children were happily living in the city of Dnipro, Ukraine’s fourth-largest city, when the war broke out. The location of the tragic Russian rocket attack on an apartment building, which resulted in the deaths of almost 50 civilians, Dnipro has featured prominently in headlines amongst news of the wider aggression.

Dmytro has vivid memories of the city coming under attack: “It was really scary; in the first hours we didn’t believe that it was really happening. Even though Dnipro was located far from the closest border of contact, so there were no Russian soldiers, the missile attacks and air defence sirens were terrifying.”

It was therefore too dangerous to continue in his role as the manager of an engineering team at one of Ukraine’s biggest mobile operators. Dmytro and his family were forced to flee the city, moving to a safer location in the west of the country and monitoring the possibility of moving abroad. After two months of uncertainty and trauma for the family, the UK’s ‘Homes for Ukraine’ programme gave them the platform they needed. They received sponsorship from a British family and were able to move to Manchester, where they agreed a six month stay.

Telecoms is growing at a rapid pace, with the rollout of nationwide broadband and 5G networks, yet a severe skills shortage is hampering this growth. This has led to the Government granting freedom to employers in the IT, communications and engineering sectors to hire staff from overseas, via Skilled Worker visas. Dmytro’s skills, 15+ years’ experience in industry and Master’s degree in Telecommunication Technology and Facilities, are therefore highly sought after and it was no problem to secure a visa.

Yet, his location restricted him in his job search. He initially started seeking a job before entering the UK but was hampered by red tape and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) not being able to get information from the Ukrainian registry. In particular, a direct application to the leading company in the market – through its website ­– was rejected, with a generic message that he had not been chosen for the role, despite his extensive experience of qualitative network planning and optimisation – expanding coverage by constructing new mobile base stations and optimising existing ones.

Dmytro’s frustrations were considerable, as he worried about providing for his family at what was already a difficult time: “For three months I was sending my CV everywhere, applying to different opportunities from network manager and team leader roles to planning and support engineer positions. But I kept coming up against brick walls. As soon as I felt like I was making progress, for example getting an interview with HR of a big corporation, I encountered problems with the process of them getting my information and the opportunity would be lost.”

Seeking help, Dmytro turned to the leading supplier of talent to the network engineering industry, recruiter Hamilton Barnes, whose senior consultant Louis Parratt recognised the strength of Dmytro as a candidate for the position that had already rejected him. Louis, who leads the agency’s telecoms offering and works with a range of companies, from start-up rigging companies right through to the largest satellite ISPs on a global scale, had an existing relationship with the company.

Louis recalls, “Dmytro had all of the key skills needed in a niche market. His experience of working in a senior planning role, with the ability to mentor junior team members, made him a great fit for the position, and we contacted the organisation to explain Dmytro’s situation and convey his high-level skill set. They had been struggling to source such a good candidate, given a limited talent pool, and learning more, they wanted an interview with him that same week.”

Dmytro adds, “Louis was very supportive throughout the recruitment process. He said he would organise an interview, even taking into account that I had been already rejected. The interview took place with the managers within a week and they gave me a job offer that same day. It was an amazingly fast result.”

The role required Dmytro to relocate again ­– this time to Bristol – but do so with the security of a full-time job and the knowledge that he would be able to rebuild his life with his family. Indeed, this was made easier by Louis helping him through the process of negotiating the timeframe of his start date, talking him through his contract and helping him secure alternative accommodation.

Now living in the south west’s largest city, his role of technical planning specialist sees him assigned to different projects, doing analysis of various technologies and their impact on the mobile network. As he progresses, there will be opportunities for leadership roles. He has certainty back in his life and is once more getting a sense of what it’s like to lead a regular life; he has taken out a gym membership.

But most importantly, Dmytro and his family feel safe.

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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