Author: Martina

Women’s Barefoot Shoes: Good Choice for the Office?

Barefoot shoes are steadily making their way into mainstream fashion and lifestyles. These shoes, designed to mimic a foot’s natural movements, are enjoyed for their comfort and health benefits. As more people become conscious of their wellness, even in the workplace, the trend of wearing barefoot shoes in the office has significantly risen. This article answers the question: Are barefoot shoes and sneakers a good choice for the office? The Appeal of Barefoot Shoes in the Office The primary appeal of wearing barefoot shoes in the office lies in their unique design and the benefits they offer. Unlike traditional shoes that may restrict foot movement, barefoot shoes are designed to allow your feet to move naturally and freely. This can lead to improved foot health and overall comfort, especially for those who spend long hours on their feet. Moreover, barefoot shoes are tailor-made with versatility in mind. With a wide range of styles available, from casual sneakers to formal footwear, barefoot shoes will fit seamlessly into your office dress code. Whether you work in a laid-back startup environment or a traditional corporate setting, there’s likely a pair of barefoot shoes to match your office attire while providing the benefits of natural foot movement. Feature Barefoot Shoes Traditional Shoes Design Mimic natural foot shape and movement. Wide toe box and zero-drop design. Variety of shapes and styles. Often narrow toe box and elevated heels. Comfort High comfort level due to allowed natural foot movement. Varies by individual and model. Varies widely by model, material, and individual foot shape. Foot Health Improved foot health by promoting natural foot movement. Some styles can contribute to foot health challenges. Transition Gradual transition recommended. No gradual transition typically required.   Popular Barefoot Shoes for Office Use The market for barefoot shoes has greatly expanded, now offering a variety of styles that are optimal for office use. Customer reviews and ratings often highlight the comfort, style, and durability of these shoes, showing they are a worthy investment for office workers seeking a change from traditional footwear. It’s also worth noting that many of these shoes are unisex, so a wide range of individuals can enjoy them. However, there is also a diverse selection of barefoot shoes specifically designed for women. The Podiatrist’s Perspective From a podiatric standpoint, barefoot shoes offer several benefits. They allow for natural foot movement to help strengthen the foot’s muscles, improve balance, and promote better posture. However, it’s important to remember that not all feet are the same, and what works for one person may not work for another. Some podiatrists caution that an immediate transition from traditional shoes to barefoot shoes can cause discomfort or even injury. Therefore, it’s recommended to make the transition gradually and consider consulting a professional if you have pre-existing foot conditions before making the switch. Despite these considerations, many podiatrists agree that barefoot shoes, when used correctly, can contribute positively to foot health and overall comfort, especially for those who spend many hours on their feet at work. How to Choose the Right Barefoot Shoes for the Office Selecting the right barefoot shoes involves several factors to consider. Comfort is imperative – the shoes should fit well and do not cause any discomfort during long stretches of wearing them. The shoe’s style is also important as it should match your office dress code and personal style. Durability is also important. The shoes should withstand daily wear and tear for quite a while. Transitioning from traditional shoes to barefoot shoes should be done gradually. Start by wearing your new barefoot shoes for just a few hours each day, slowly increasing the amount of hours worn as your feet adjust to the new footwear. Also, listen to your body during this transition period. If you experience discomfort or pain, it may be worth seeking advice from a healthcare professional. Conclusion Barefoot shoes and sneakers are emerging as a viable choice for office footwear, offering a unique blend of comfort, health benefits, and style. While they may not be the perfect fit for everyone, many find them to be a beneficial addition to their office attire. As with any significant change, transitioning to barefoot shoes should be done over time and with consideration of your individual needs and circumstances. Ultimately, the decision to switch to barefoot shoes in the office is a personal one that should be based on careful research and, if necessary, professional advice. Frequently Asked Questions Are barefoot shoes good for everyday use? Yes, many individuals find barefoot shoes comfortable for everyday use. However, it’s important to transition slowly and allow your feet time to adjust to the new style of footwear. When should you wear barefoot shoes? Barefoot shoes can be worn during a variety of activities, including walking, running, and daily wear. They can be used during your work at the office, depending on your comfort level and office dress code. Are barefoot shoes suitable for people with foot conditions? While some people with foot conditions find that barefoot shoes help them, it’s important to seek professional advice before making a significant change in footwear, especially if you have a pre-existing foot condition.

Quiet quitting: a problem or a survival mechanism?

There has been a lot of talk about the quite quitting recently. It is an intriguing phenomenon and the level of attention it gets deserves at least an attempt at an explanation. It apparently concerns so many of us. There are probably multiple angles one can justifiably take on the issue: sociological, economical, historical, anthropological, technological or others. I will offer only one angle on quiet quitting and that will be predominantly psychological. While there can be number of factors that make quiet quitting a distinct phenomenon, possible to research for example in working environment, I am taking a more general view here. By quiet quitting I understand the feeling of exhaustion in an overly competitive society. This is present in today’s China as well as in the United States or Europe. Tetiana Bugasova speaks about leading her team in the middle of war This may seem like a generalisation of a phenomena that has been commonly described in relation to work environment, however I do so because I believe it affects not only our work life but also our personal lives. One can wonder, for instance, to what extent women (or men for that matter) today feel under pressure to be “a perfect mother” and whether what we denote as quiet quitting does not or will not soon apply in that realm as well. It seems to me, and data support it, that stress is a prevalent disease of the modern times. Quiet quitting is a solution to this stress when it reaches the level where we are no longer able to conform to the ideal that is put in front of us. It is therefore, in essence, a survival mechanism. Head of IKEA’s department store: True equality starts right at home One can of course question why our resources are so scarce that we need to quietly quit, while others in a similar situation are seemingly able to respond proactively to the demands that the environment puts on them. Comparing ourselves with others and seeing that there are those who make it while we do not, without having a plausible explanation for it, makes us suspect that we are lazy, generally less worthy than others, or less lucky in talents we have been given, depending on interpretation. But we need an explanation for the situation when we quietly quit. Either we attribute the fault to ourselves (“I am not good enough”) or we attribute it to the environment (“They don’t know how to use my talents and skills”). Either way, we feel disconnected from our environment and we feel we do not fit. If I feel I am not good enough, this alone may suffice for some years to keep me motivated to become better and keep trying. Eventually however, I realise the futility of the exercise and the exhaustion comes. I find myself in the place where I started – feeling not good enough and looking for external affirmation, only with the added experience that trying to meet or exceed expectations is futile. I therefore resort to passivity. It will not deliver affirmation I am looking for, but I will at least survive. If I put the blame on the environment, I put myself in a position of a victim, who is powerless to do anything about it. It equally leads to passivity. Quiet quitting is therefore a symptom of a defective strategy to satisfy underlying need for affirmation or security. It is not the problem, it is the symptom. The problem only becomes visible, after we are no longer able to continue investing into a defective strategy believing it can work. It comes with a crash of our ideals and beliefs. I would be surprised if quite quitting came without at least some level of depression. It seems to me that while some people may successfully suppress depression when quietly quitting by using defence mechanisms such as rationalisation, it is inevitable that the loss of hope must come with a feeling of pain, sorrow, and sadness, whether conscious or not. It should therefore not come as a surprise that people who quietly quit may appear in psychotherapy as clients with depression. I believe the same underlying mechanism is at work as for burnout, except I view burnout as a more extreme form of quiet quitting when the employee is no longer able to perform minimum necessary to keep herself in the job or performing a role required of her (for example being a mother and raising a child). It would be interesting to know to what extent are the dropping fertility rates in the Western Europe a result of this internal exhaustion to comply with perceived and presented ideal of a parent. Let us now turn attention to reasons why some people seemingly manage to confront the demands of today’s world, while others do not. As I wrote above, I see the primary reason for exhaustion in the fact that our activity comes not from a spontaneous creativity and joy of being active in the world, but it serves to satisfy the need for affirmation or security that we feel we lack. It is a defective strategy that will not work, because the need is insatiable. I will address later why that is. It is interesting to note that in 2022, Gallup found that roughly half of the U.S. workforce were quiet quitters. This would mean that approximately half of the U.S. population have unhealthy motivation patterns. My view is, that seeking affirmation or security in what we do and achieve is a result of a defective attachment in an early development of a child to a primary caregiver (usually mother). This view has a basis in the attachment theory. Attachment dictates whether we feel safe and valued and can relate productively to the outside world without viewing it as predominantly hostile or dangerous. A child that develops insecure attachment will experience problems in relating to and responding to the world in adult life. She will seek validation and security in external environment where it cannot be found. That is the reason why the need is insatiable. Interestingly, recent research on the type of attachment in population showed that approximately half of adult population have a defective type of attachment.  I would not be surprised, although I am not aware of any research on that, if the group of quite quitters significantly overlapped with those who lacked healthy attachment in their upbringing. If I am right, the solution to quite quitting (possibly also burn out) is not to be found on a practical level but requires deeper emotional healing. About the Author: Viliam Kuruc worked for 15 years in business as a management consultant for Kearney and in strategy for ČEZ, innogy/e-on and Penta subsidiary Svet Zdravia. He now leads his own psychotherapeutic and consulting practice and works with individuals and companies to identify and resolve issues that prevent clients to fulfil their potential and lead a productive life.

Economic outlook series for 2023

Green energy transition, ESG compliance and access to public subsidies are among the priorities for CEOs in 2023. In his interview, Vazil Hudak, Chairman of Avanea AIF and Member of the Advisory Board of JP Morgan for EMEA is covering these important topics and bringing us the perspective from the World Economic Forum in Davos that took place in January.    Vazil, you have just come back from the World Economic Forum in Davos where you spoke with the key decision makers from many international companies and with the policy makers. What were the main concerns they had, what challenges they anticipate in 2023? It is obviously quite a complex situation today globally, both in terms of geopolitics and global economics. There were four major topics in Davos. The first is the uncertainty regarding future development of the global economy in 2023. We see some positive signals such as lowering of inflation, China opening after a long covid lockdown, some stabilization of the interest rates, and labour markets are doing very well in general. On the other hand, there are also worrying signals especially in terms of high energy prices and inflation, although it is decreasing, is still high. These are the main themes regarding macroeconomics. There is a question whether the outlook on the economic growth is negative or not. Another important point is de-globalization. The fact is that major economic blocks globally, whether it is US, China, Europe or India are developing their own protection mechanisms, their own incentives mechanisms for bringing more investments inwards. It is partially the reaction to the pandemic. During pandemic, as you remember, we faced the situation that it was impossible to get goods from China and eastern places to Europe, and vice versa. Therefore, there is a push to shorten the supply chains in general, globally. For example, in the United States there is an inflation reduction act, which hands a lot of subsidies to the companies operating investments and producing inside the US. China has, obviously, always been very supportive of its companies. And Europe has to respond to this as well. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke in Davos and outlined the Green Deal Industrial Plan, which is a response of Europe towards this de-globalization process. That is one of the issues. The third one, of course, is the war in Ukraine. It is an ongoing problem because it creates the disturbances at political and also at economical level, uncertainty about energy prices. It is overall a major insecurity, potential use of the nuclear weapon, and so on. And the fourth one, I would say, is the topic of de-carbonization, especially the role of green technology, not only with regard to climate protection, but also in general as it is a driving force for innovations globally.  I would say these four issues were the primary ones for the discussion, but of course there were many more. And in terms of opportunities, what might the year 2023 bring us, especially in the Central and Eastern Europe? Given the current priorities of de-carbonization and the growing importance of technology, Central and Eastern Europe has a potential to be one of the driving forces in Europe and even globally, especially in developing new innovative technology companies. As you now, I am engaged in InoBat, which is a Slovakia-based company, developing new technologies for batteries for e-mobilities as well as for energy storage systems. The companies of this type, which can utilize the strong innovative potential of Central Europe and a brain power of our people, could be very interesting. Another opportunity is also a possible de-localization of some of the companies. For example, German companies that are dependent on Chinese or Russian suppliers are now moving their production closer to Germany. This is an opportunity for CEE to get more production into the region. You mentioned that the importance de-carbonization is growing on the global level. In terms of CEOs priorities, how high is ESG in their agenda now? Yes, it is very high. It is certainly one of the top issues. There is a lot of interest and support for green agenda, for sustainability. Basically, today no global or regional business can function without a strong ESG element. There is a full support for this direction. However, there is always a question mark how much of this is so-called green washing and how much of it is real. May companies are proclaiming to be green, to be socially responsible and sustainable, but in reality, it is often more about PR than the real activities. In Davos there was a lot of discussion how to make sure that companies are really doing what they are saying. The other issue is that of the governance. For example, there are more women in key-decision making positions in the companies, there is more diversity, etc. Certainly, ESG is and continues to be a big element for many corporations. From your perspective, what matters most today in comparison to what could wait? What are the main priorities for the moment? If I was to identify the key priority for Europe, it would certainly be finding the settlement for Ukraine. It is a major disruptive element for Europe in particular. Some kind of peaceful solution would certainly be very welcome. Another priority I would say is the issue of green transition. Basically, transitioning of the energy in particular into a new structure where the countries of CEE would be less dependent on Russia, less dependent on fossil fuels, much more focused on renewables, and much more diversified in terms of supply chain, including suppliers from the Middle East, Norway, and the US. I would say these are the two main priorities. It is still quite difficult to give a prognosis in the current situation; nonetheless I would like to ask you what can be the main changes that we are going to see this year? I think that companies from Central and Eastern Europe would need to look at the situation more globally. They would need to compare different sources of public support in Europe versus in the US or other parts of the world. It is already now visible that quite many companies that are involved into the green economy or green energy sector, for example battery producers are moving from Europe to the Unites States, because of this inflation reduction act and the huge number of subsidies that the US government can provide to the investors inside the United States. I think the importance of public support and public subsidies is playing a very important role in the decision-making for the companies. And of course, the ESG element, making sure that a company follows the ESG rules, because it is an important element for investors, for the financing. If a company in CEE wants to go to the international market, to get financial resources – it must be ESG compliant. This was very clear in Davos as well.

How Do Kids Really Feel When Their Parents Divorce?

New Book Tackles Complicated Question Through the Eyes of Beloved Character Freeda the Frog New York, January 18, 2023 — How do you explain to a child that Mom and Dad will no longer live together? Dealing with divorce can be very confusing and challenging for children. In Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce (Mascot Books; ISBN: 978-1-63177-514-7), author Nadine Haruni presents a story to assist families adjusting to a new family dynamic and the often overwhelming feelings that surround it. Owing to the fact that approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce, it is helpful to have a children’s book that explains what divorce is in a simple way. It also engenders empathy in kids whose parents are not divorced to better understand what their friends are going through. The first book in her Freeda the Frog series, Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce centers on young Frannie and Frank and their parents, Freeda and Fred, who now fight all the time. This makes Frannie and Frank sad, and then one day, Freeda tells Frannie and Frank that Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce. The little tadpoles are confused, and once Freeda explains, Frannie and Frank cry and cry. They don’t understand why Mommy and Daddy don’t want to share the lily pad anymore. The adjustment is hard; Frannie and Frank live with their mom, Freeda, and visit their dad, Fred, at his new lily pad on the weekend. Little Frannie and Frank soon learn that both parents will still love them even if they don’t live together. The little tadpoles also discover that they are not alone and that tadpoles at school also have divorced parents. Frannie and Frank’s classmates tell them not to keep their feelings inside and to talk to loved ones. Frannie and Frank slowly begin to understand that they will live happily ever after even with Mommy and Daddy living on different lily pads. Whether reeling from a parent’s divorce or adjusting to a new family structure, parents and kids will find comfort in sitting together and reading how Frannie and Frank lived through their parents’ divorce. Freeda the Frog Gets a Divorce continues Nadine Haruni’s mission: helping families of all species, one tadpole at a time.   About the Author Nadine Haruni is an award-winning children’s book author and a mother to five kids in a blended family. Her Freeda the Frog series follows a frog family as they go through various real-life “stuff” — from a parent’s divorce and subsequent remarriage to adjusting to a blended family, moving to a new town, starting a new school, and meeting the gay family on the lily pad next door. Beyond helping children who are going through these situations, her books aim to help all kids recognize that no two families look the same. Leveled to align with National Educational Standards, all five Freeda the Frog books have received the Gold Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence in the family-friendly picture book category, as well as Readers’ Favorite 5-star reviews. Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door was honored with a Royal Dragonfly Book Award in the LGBTQ category. Haruni is a frequent guest on parenting podcasts, aiming to reach as many families as possible on her mission to encourage an environment of awareness, empathy and inclusivity. Along with writing and parenting, Haruni is a practicing attorney and a certified yoga instructor. She lives in Bergen County, New Jersey, with her family.

The 10 countries with the most expensive healthcare claims

The study, from William Russell, analysed internal international health insurance claims data to discover the most expensive countries to get sick or injured without cover while travelling and which claim types are the most expensive. The 10 countries with the most expensive healthcare claims:  Rank Country Total Claims Total Amount Claimed Average Claim Value 1 Denmark 3 €20,006 €6,668 2 Taiwan 13 €45,885 €3,530 3 Qatar 26 €68,616 €2,639 4 Lebanon 32 €84,198 €2,631 5 Switzerland 38 €82,661 €2,175 6 Malawi 60 €111,817 €1,864 7 Spain 65 €119,456 €1,838 8 Trinidad and Tobago 14 €23,579 €1,684 9 Thailand 525 €783,137 €1,491 10 Czechia 3 €4,401 €1,467 The 10 most expensive health insurance claim types:  Rank Claim Category Total Claims Total Amount Claimed Average Claim Value 1 Medical evacuation 7 €85,802 €12,258 2 Pregnancy complications and emergency procedures 12 €125,069 €10,422 3 Treatment for cancer 154 €1,185,127 €7,696 4 Cover for newborns 1 €5,218 €5,218 5 Terminal illnesses and palliative care 20 €91,352 €4,567 6 Home nursing costs 12 €54,701 €4,558 7 Advanced diagnostic and genome tests 244 €152,438 €4,388 8 Prosthetic implants & appliances 9 €34,060 €3,785 9 Hospital accommodation and nursing 744 €2,157,084 €2,899 10 Hospital treatment 34 €56,862 €1,673 Further findings: Hungary had the cheapest average claim value at just €26.39, followed by Antigua and Barbuda at €30.94. The least expensive claim type was a trip to the dietician, costing just €5.46 on average, followed by ‘children’s routine check-ups and vaccinations’ with claims averaging €63.70. Interestingly, the most common illness or injury claimed in France is ‘crushing injury of multiple sites of trunk’ with 40 claims of this type in 2021. One of the highest average values for a claim was found to be for breast implant removal in Switzerland with an average cost of €24,413.

32% of the world’s richest people are bilingual – see who they are

Do people who speak more than one language earn more money? When Forbes released its 2022 World Billionaire List, it became apparent that a pattern could be detected: many of the billionaires were able to speak a second language. To investigate further, a new study by Preply has revealed that a staggering 32% of the richest people in the world can speak another language. Falling just behind Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos is Benard Arnault, chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton SE, is worth a whopping $158,000,000,000 (£130bn). His first language is French, but he can also speak English, German and Italian. With Germany sitting as the third richest country in the world and the UK ranking fifth on the same list, it is not surprising that the billionaire opted to learn these languages. Seventh on the list is Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, with a net worth of $107,000,000,000 (£88bn). While English is his first language, the entrepreneur also speaks Russian. Steve Ballmer, 10th on the rich list, is worth $91,400,000,000 (£75bn) and speaks French as well as his first language, English. Mukesh Ambani, director of Reliance Industries Ltd and worth $90,700,000,000 (£75.2bn), comes in at 11th on the list. With Gujarati as his first language, the billionaire has managed to forge immense success – unsurprising as this dialect is spoken by over 46 million people, across India, the United States and the UK. As his second language, he also speaks English. Michael Bloomberg, 13th on the list and worth $82,000,000,000 (£68bn), speaks English as his first language and Spanish as his second. Do the richest people on the planet speak more than one language? To further investigate the correlation between language and wealth, the team at Preply also drew results from the way countries speak about the future, and whether there is a pay divide between bilingual and non-bilingual jobs. 

Which countries offer workers the best working conditions and benefits?

Slovakia ranks 5th among the most worker-friendly countries, with an overall work and employment score of 6.29.  New research by William Russell has analysed data from 30 OECD countries to reveal which countries offer the best working conditions and benefits. The countries with the best overall work benefits Rank Country Average Salary Weeks of Maternity Leave Average Weekly Working Hours Annual Minimum Wage Minimum Paid Annual Leave Work & Employment Score /10 1 Denmark $62,054 18.00 26.6 $27,920 25 7.54 2 Finland $50,698 18.00 30.6 $25,962 25 7.46 3 Norway $53,079 19.00 26.6 $25,029 25 6.99 4 Austria $58,139 16.00 31.0 $18,342 25 6.90 5 Slovakia $24,769 34.00 32.6 $8,410 25 6.29 6 France $49,619 16.00 28.9 $21,973 25 6.25 7 Netherlands $61,734 16.00 27.7 $23,644 20 5.91 8 Sweden $49,825 12.00 30.9 $21,169 25 5.86 9 Ireland $52,352 42.00 34.1 $24,322 20 5.73 10 Belgium $59,601 15.00 30.5 $23,183 20 5.69 The research reveals: Denmark is the country with the best workplace benefits, receiving the highest work and employment score of 7.54, combining high salaries with low working hours, well-protected workers’ rights, and a minimum of 25 days of annual leave. In second place is Finland with a work and employment score of 7.46. Finland also has a particularly high score on the Labour Rights Index, indicating that the country cares about the average worker. In third place is Norway, which earned a work and employment score of 6.99. Slightly lower scores on the Labour Rights Index, minimum wage and public holidays prevent the country from ranking higher. On the other hand, Mexico has the worst work and employment score of 0.47. Further study insights: Lithuania has the highest score on the Labour Rights Index at 96 out of 100, indicating that it’s a great place for workers to earn a living in decent conditions. The United States has the highest average salary in our study at $74,738, which is more than $12,000 higher than any other country. Estonia offers the highest amount of maternity leave of any country in our study at 62 weeks. The country also has the highest minimum amount of paid annual leave at 28 days. Denmark has the lowest average weekly working hours of any country in our study at just 26.48. New Zealand has the highest annual minimum wage of $29,051, making it the best country for low-skilled workers or those in low-paying sectors. Japan has the highest number of paid public holidays in our study, with 16 days of national holiday each year.

Tetiana Bugasova speaks about leading her team in the middle of war

“I learned how well the human body could cope,” says Tetiana Bugasova, “every instinct responding to the highly stressed situations encountered when we travelled to the Hungarian border after the war started,” Tetiana Bugasova is a Chief Operating Officer in the Kyiv office of CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang. Tetiana has over 25-years of experience with international companies – fifteen of which she has spent with CMS. She is a strong business and strategy development professional, skilled in general management, human resources, business process improvement, supplier negotiation, merger negotiations and change & crisis management. CMS is the 5th largest global law firm. The Kyiv office of CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang employs over sixty-five employees. The Ukraine team of CMS has been fully operational since the beginning of the war and is working through hubs in Budapest, Kyiv, Western Ukraine, and a few other locations. We sat down with Tetiana to talk about leading her CMS team of lawyers into safety, dealing with the enormous stress, and working amidst the raging conflict in her home country, Ukraine. Is it nearly impossible to imagine the level of stress people of Ukraine went through, especially in the first days of the Russian invasion. Could you please share how you managed to cope? Let me tell you about the changing dynamics in our office. We were a team of sixty-five people. At the start of the war most of us were relocated to different locations, mainly in Budapest and Western Ukraine, with only about ten people staying in Kyiv. Now, half of the team is back in Kyiv, and the other half located in Budapest, Western Ukraine and elsewhere. How did your company support you during the move? The action plan was developed in coordination with the Global Business Continuity Team a few months before the war, but we didn’t expect it to be implemented. We warned staff that the situation in Ukraine was not looking good and suggested a relocation to our office in Budapest. But at that point everyone was hopeful that the situation would not escalate. Our views started to radically change when we learnt that most of the embassies and international schools had had been evacuated. After that, we thought we must reassess and take the situation more seriously. One day before the war, my son left with his football team to Wroclaw. The following early morning on February 24, the day the war started, I had innumerable calls including from my son who was crossing the Ukrainian-Polish boarder when the team of 180 young football players, trainers and some parents who were travelling with their children had to make some tough decisions whether to cross to Poland and go back to Ukraine On that day we faced flights no longer being available, enormous traffic jams, huge queues and limited petrol available because of massive evacuations of civilians. We were now on extreme alert: bombs were falling on Kyiv and Russian troops were on the ground. It was very clear for me that if I wanted to see my son again, I had to evacuate immediately, and that I must do everything in my power to help to evacuate as many of our team as possible.  We must be forever grateful for our global company CMS, for supporting the team and continuing operations. There is an old expression: “a friend in need is a friend indeed”. That day we experienced true friendship and real connection to the global CMS family, who helped us in every way possible. Was that the first-time employees had to move to safety? It was the time when everybody started to become seriously worried. We had an evacuation emergency plan in place and this was the time when we had to put it into practice. We learnt that the sense of security has different meanings to different people and that being evacuated to a safer place in such difficult times can be more stressful than to stay with their families – who either don’t want or are not able to leave home. It took a lot of my time and energy to hold numerous discussions to convince people to move. We had to decide how best to transport people with buses, minibuses, and cars – which in the circumstances were challenging to drive. On average it was taking us three full days to get to the border with Hungary. We drove without breaks; I would ask passengers in cars in front of me if they could please drive my car for ten minutes so that I could sleep. I learned then how much the human body could take, what it could endure. Most of the team moved away to safe places, but there were some people who did not want and could not leave initially. And there was a moment when we got to the point that the firm had to arrange for professional extraction services for some of our people and their families, which in retrospect sounds almost funny and rather like a thriller story, but at the time was terrifying and stressful as we watched our convoy moving through many checkpoints to a safer place. Did you have any specific emergency evacuation plan? We have a great team of top professionals in our IT and Global Business Continuity community that helped us to stay in contact with our people and to know their location and if they needed help. That team developed an emergency app to help us track our people and to know if they were safe. We also have the “international operational centre” team, which was set up from the time the first bomb landed in Kyiv, and worked 24/7 to help our employees, their families, and friends. The team was in charge of organising border crossings to get people out on the first day of the war, and to support those en route with information and accommodation as they escaped to safety. So, how did the employees and the whole office manage to cope? Was there a loss of jobs, considering you mainly operate in Ukraine? We managed to evacuate about 50 % of our people – 40 % to Hungary and the rest were in the Western part of Ukraine and Kyiv. Many people didn’t want to move, and it wasn’t easy to persuade them. Some of our people are still there now. Some clients never stopped their work, and so some practices remained behind to advise them. Clients needed to stay in touch with us and seek advice; they were in the same boat and not all of them had emergency plans in place. Speaking about our team, one of our partner candidates had their final interview for the partnership on the day the war began. The work did not pause or end. Other staff started working immediately after they reached a new location following evacuation. We of course experienced some fall in business activity from our clients, but despite that we can deploy our highly skilled lawyers and business services personnel to serve other CMS offices and projects. CMS is a truly international firm with lots of horizontal links with each other, which makes us all exceptionally skilled and used to working with different teams in different offices. This gives us an enormous opportunity to ensure that our team continues to develop as professionals. How do you, as a person, get the strength, and what are your coping mechanisms? As a manager, a leader of your office, a woman, and a mother? Lawyers, especially in Ukraine, are used to working long hours and being under enormous stress. But what we faced on 24 February was beyond ordinary human experience. I resolved to do two things: to take care of my family and to sustain business operations in the face of all challenges. It wasn’t easy. Though I enjoy dealing with difficult situations, and finding ways to fix them this was, even for me, a little bit too much to deal with. It was the relentless stress; at some point I constantly felt tired and exhausted. But I knew I had to keep going – and I did. Meditation, yoga practice and being in the countryside have helped me. How do you deal with your mental health in such a stressful situation? It was a priority for us to take care of our team‘s mental health and well-being before the war. It remained a principal priority after the dreadful events of the war, for the team to help employees and their families deal with any post-traumatic syndromes. Professional psychological assistance was made available to all members of our team and their families – free of charge of course. The psychologist we engaged speaks English, Ukrainian and Russian, and she also grew up in Ukraine, lived in Hungary and now lives in the UK – so she is well qualified to help us to adapt to what was happening, or to being in a different country and culture. Businesses are all about reaching goals and plans. But how do you plan for the future in such an unpredictable and unstable situation? I have learned from all my years in business that you always need to be prepared. You must be ready for the worst and for the best. If you plan, you will always succeed. You must know your team, who you can rely on in difficult times and who you can rely on in more enjoyable times. But these present tough times are when you can see clearly who can be depended on; and you see new sides of your team. And what is always significant is quality networking. We have proven this in CMS when dealing with this unprecedented situation. It helped us survive, but real networking, like real friendship, is also about giving back. Speaking of team members, you mentioned a lot of them worked on helping and fundraising for others, as well as for the troops. Yes, from the moment the war started – big decisions were made by everyone. Some people left a commercial environment because they wanted to do something bigger for society. One of our previous employees is now in an international organisation and helps report on the crimes committed during the war; they are currently working with the Haag judges. The community of CMS lawyers in Ukraine, and other lawyers underground, devised   an initiative for the charitable organisation Yellowblue Force. This community is trying to collect humanitarian aid from many and scattered locations, while working with international companies to supply hospitals with equipment, and helping the military to acquire the vehicles they need. There are many personal stories of help freely given. For example, one of our lawyers, started creating little paintings the size of postcards and larger. She chose some war and Ukraine-related images and painted them for people. In doing this she made 2000 euros and donated all of it to the army. Lastly, I wanted to ask about your son. How is he coping, living in Budapest? Luckily, he left for Poland before the war began and has not seen any distressing scenes. He was with his football team and stayed in Wroclaw for the first month. I only got him back to Budapest once all my CMS team was sorted because I was working flat-out for a very long month. But he was also happy with his team and coaches. My son and his pals were treated like celebrities in Wroclaw. They attended football matches in big stadiums, and really enjoyed their time there. But they also didn’t want to leave because they understood they probably wouldn’t see each other again. He enjoys his time at school and is looking forward to returning to Ukraine when possible. Thank you, Tetiana, for sharing the stories and being the leader in these times.  Thank you very much for having me and for your questions. But thanks to all of you who are supporting us. Every help and support matters in this battle. Thank you.    

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