From Ukraine to Newfoundland

Just a few months after fleeing Ukraine, Olena Yaskiv landed her dream job as Client Success Manager at the St. John's office in Canada.

Published: 26. April 2024
Olena Yaskiv is settling into her new hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

With a master's degree in statistics and extensive experience in various customer relationships, Yaskiv is making strides in her role as Client Success Manager. Her responsibilities include being the point of contact between clients and the company, ensuring the best possible resolution to client challenges.

“I serve as the client's primary point of contact, assisting them in setting up the system, meeting their needs and goals, and ensuring they have a positive experience with Omega.”

Yaskiv arrived in Canada last December through an agreement between Ukraine and Canada, which grants a three-year work permit to Ukrainian refugees.

“I don't like to say refugee, I call us New Canadians,” says Yaskiv. 

She is now settling into her new hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland. 

However, she had no plans to move to Toronto, Newfoundland, or even to the North American continent. Yaskiv had a good life in Lviv, Ukraine's cultural capital near the Polish border.

“Lviv is an old city, with an opera house and a rich cultural life. Many people come there to experience its architecture and culture,” says Yaskiv . 

In 2022, Russia initiated a full-scale invasion, and the war quickly reached Lviv.

“During those two years, it's strange what you get used to.” 

The turning point came when a Russian missile struck the neighboring block. Yaskiv thought her final hour had come. The experience left a lasting impact on the following months.

“I started having panic attacks every time I heard the missile air alarm,” says Yaskiv. 

Long journey to Canada

Life became challenging. She decided to leave her hometown and explore opportunities in a new country. The journey was long, involving a train to Poland and a flight via Iceland. Yaskiv arrived in Toronto, a bustling city of millions, where she stayed for a few weeks.

In Newfoundland, Yaskiv received 45 days of room and board, along with assistance from the Association for New Canadians (ANC). It was Yaskiv's contact at ANC who told her about a new position at Omega 365 that she should apply for.

“They helped us with documents, work permits, and prepared us for the interviews.” 

She was quickly called in, and the conversation went well.

Arvid Markhus, Department Manager at Omega 365 in St. John’s, was impressed by Yaskiv’s personal qualities and professional expertise.

“Clearly the strongest candidate. We were lucky to find her,” says Markhus.

Markhus, who is originally from Ølen in Norway, opened the St. John’s office in 2022. He is very pleased with the fourth employee, who he believes is a valuable addition to the team.

“It takes a special kind of energy to excel in roles that involve working closely with people. She possesses a lot of energy, handles the unexpected well, and is self-driven,” he says.

“The plan was to proceed with three to six months of training to allow her to become proficient in our tools, get to know us as a company, and adjust to a new country. It can take some time to settle in. But she's been here for a month and is already managing her first implementation with a new client and supporting others. She's well-prepared – and that proves that Yaskiv was the right choice,” says Markhus. 

Prefers St. John’s 

Markhus clearly recognized Yaskiv’s expertise in numbers and systems. In a small team, you must take ownership of your own responsibilities.

“Yaskiv provides more structured answers than what I ask,” says Markhus. 

In addition to Yaskiv's extensive experience with similar client relationships, he also noticed another interesting detail on her CV.

“It's one of the interesting things she told me. As a student in Ukraine, Olena took a job providing telephone support to Western Europe and North America to improve her English. It's a smart choice at a young age that demonstrates her analytical side,” says Markhus. 

For her first client, Yaskiv will apply her expertise in mathematics. The client's renewable energy project will involve cost control, forecasting, and distribution. According to Yaskiv, the advantage of a master's degree in statistics is that it teaches you structure and problem-solving skills.

Yaskiv describes her colleagues at Omega 365 and other Canadians as open, friendly, and helpful. After a brief experience in the bustling city of Toronto, Yaskiv has realized where she thrives. St. John's, with a population of around 100 000, aligns more with Yaskiv's preferences than the glass and concrete skyscrapers of the big city.

“I prefer it here in St. John’s compared to Toronto. It's close to nature and the ocean, offering the perfect combination of mountains for hiking,” says Yaskiv. 

In her free time, she enjoys exploring the city, meeting new people, reading English books, and especially practicing yoga.

“It's because of the benefits for strength and flexibility. When you have an office job, it's incredibly important to stretch your body and spine. Achieving work-life balance is crucial, and yoga helps me do just that,” says Yaskiv. 

Yoga fosters mastery, and not just because of the challenging movements. Yaskiv's preferred variant is Aerial yoga, where you practice yoga while suspended in a hammock made of wide bands. Preferably upside down.

“I recommend everyone to try it at least once,” Yaskiv says. 

Can learn something from everyone

Yoga offers both physical exercise and mental perspective. Yaskiv is looking forward to the future, and Omega 365 holds a special place in her heart.

“Of course, I would like to return, but I'm grateful for this opportunity. I can support my family and contribute to the army,” says Yaskiv.

That's why Omega 365's involvement in Ukraine is so significant. This year, Omega 365 is contributing NOK 50 000 a month to NRC's work in Ukraine, totaling NOK 600 000 over the year, in addition to the Christmas donations Omega 365 has given to the organization in recent years.

“It's incredibly important for me to know that the company supports us,” says Yaskiv. 

She is also happy to be working in a Norwegian company.

“There are some similarities, although all cultures are different. You can learn something from everyone.”