24 April 2010

A busy week in Kyiv

I receive many invitations each week to attend some event, party, launch, seminar or meeting in Kyiv. This past week I attended a few and was particularly impressed by the big launch party organised by the famous British company – Quintessentially. They opened in Kyiv with a party at the Buddha Bar in the city centre. I estimate there must have been about 300 people including celebrities like Andrey Shevchenko and Vladimir Klitschko who enjoyed this big free party. My only concern is, I think they did not get the message across to the people as to WHAT they will actually do in Ukraine?. It was the usual Kyiv glitzy set which always includes many stunningly beautiful women. The party included a fashion show sponsored by Favorit Health Club.
Many first time visitors to Kyiv are shocked by the seemingly extravagance of many events. (Recession? What recession?)

Thursday, I attended a reception meeting for HRH The Duke of York (Prince Andrew) organised by the British Embassy in Ukraine. It was a great opportunity for HRH to get a feel for what we Brits think about doing business in Ukraine and what are the opportunities as he was meeting the new President of Ukraine the next day.

It’s not easy doing business in Ukraine but there are still many opportunities for those who have a strong will to survive. Earlier in the week I met Valeriya Machkova, a woman who describes herself as an ‘interpreter’ on her business card. But I discovered she has developed a small niche in the medical tourism business. Valeriya takes care of visitors from Arab countries (she speaks fluent Arabic, English and German). She has no web site or promotional materials and all her business is via ‘word of mouth’ from previous Arab clients. She introduces people to the many low cost clinics in Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine where people can still receive excellent medical treatment for a small fraction of the cost in western Europe. I think maybe Ukraine could be ready for more medical tourists.

18 April 2010

Maybe business is starting to recover in Ukraine

We will have our next BBCU meeting on 28th April at the Inter Continental Hotel in Kyiv. The theme will be about banking and getting back to business.
During the past few weeks, I have detected a more positive atmosphere in the business community in Kyiv. Maybe the good weather has something to do with it, but I'm getting reports that companies are recruiting new staff again. Even law firms are starting to take people on again. It would appear that many people are content with the state of stability which has been created with the new president and new government.

I still get invited to lunch or dinner just about everyday by someone in Kyiv, but this year I have decided take a more controlled approach to my time management.
FOCUS is my key aim right now to just concentrate on doing the things which I think will be worth my time and energy. Previously I had always kept about six balls in the air at the same time, well now its just two balls maximum. I am working on a few new projects right now and will shortly be announcing some new ventures.

10 April 2010

Back to Kyiv after Easter

Back in Kyiv today after a weeks break for Easter back in the UK.
I was in London for a few days and then spent a week in the Lake District with my two daughters Jade and Jasmine.
I was surprised by how cold it still is in England for this time of year, as it was the Lake District it rained just about everyday anyhow. But we still enjoyed the break.

During this time, Gordon Brown decided to call a general election for May 6 and the campaigns began.
Maybe I am getting old, but I didn’t see or hear anything really interesting being put forward by any of the major parties. Plus I notice that many MPs are standing down and not seeking re-election, not just those caught up in the expenses scandal, but many others who it would appear have just had enough of politics in the UK.

One question that people ask me when I am back in England is “What do you miss most about not living in England?” There are two things I miss. Firstly, not seeing my two daughters more often and secondly not being able to drive on good roads.
That’s about it really.
I now feel like a tourist in my own country when I am back in England. I tend to view everything I see and do as a tourist. For example a Ukrainian visitor and I, paid a visit to Windsor Castle. Long time since I have been there and it still makes me feel proud to be British. However, I still find it amazing that the tourist shops and cafes/restaurants around the castle still close at 5pm. Is England geared up to cater for international tourists?
I did find one pub still open and smiled as I heard Americans asking for a drinks menu.

Compared to many other countries, the UK is still a very ‘orderly’ country. However, I purchased a train ticket from London to Retford in Nottinghamshire and had that horrible experience of getting on the train only to discover that all the seats where full.
I was forced to stand up on the train until one passenger got off the train at Peterborough.
How on earth can a developed economy not use a smart intelligent system for selling train seats? In Ukraine, they always know when all the seats have been sold and refuse to sell anymore tickets. This is logical.

I suppose it’s a good thing that the trains are being fully used in England. But then I calculated that the price of the train ticket was more than the price of my air fare from Kyiv to London.