The first summit was held in 2021 to bring the world’s first ladies and gentlemen together to promote dialogue and find effective solutions to global humanitarian challenges through soft power, partnership, public diplomacy, exchange of experience, and implementation of joint initiatives.
The 3rd Summit of First Ladies and Gentlemen, founded by Olena Zelenska, the wife of the President of Ukraine, took place in Kyiv on the 6th September 2023.
It was hosted by British actor, director, and writer Stephen Fry and Ukrainian journalist Hanna Homonai.
The theme of the 3rd Summit was 'Mental Health: Fragility and Resilience of the Future' and opening the conference Olena Zelenska noted that it has long been an axiom for all conscious people, at least in the free world, that human life is important and mental health is the basis of this quality. She said that a life of constant anxiety, fear, and uncertainty cannot be called of high quality.
Elena Maysyura, from our office in Kyiv, was an invited guest and the participants discussed how wars and conflicts affect mental health and whether it is possible to adapt to it. She said,
"I was happy to attend as a guest and benefited greatly from the panel discussions. Sarah Brown and Stephen Fry are both incredible experts whose participation made this Summit unforgettable."
The summit consisted of three panels: 'Mental Health: The Balance of Resilience and Fragility', 'The Impact of War on Mental Health', and 'The Generation That Will Lead the World in 15 Years'.
President Zelenskyy noted that people's resilience has its limits. He said he was grateful that this Summit and such a representative discussion was dedicated to the topic of mental health.
Ukraine today demonstrates to the world a people united by common values - a people who value human life.
The full-scale war in Ukraine became a real test of viability not only for all of us, but also for the Executive Search market.
The war meant that many companies significantly reduced hiring volumes in Ukraine, or closed, or left the Ukrainian market; most had to stop, postpone or curtail non-critical projects.
However, Ukrainian business is finding strength for recovery and a steady movement forward - business is gradually adapting. Many organizations have become more mobile or even global overnight because the war forced them to either transfer production to the western regions of Ukraine, or to enter new markets outside the state, and in a very short time.
Even in the most difficult conditions, Ukrainians continue to look ahead with optimism and are already planning the future for economic development.
It is admirable that, despite the war and all the challenges associated with it, organizations are rebuilding production facilities and opening vacancies for talented specialists, and every week the number of offers on job portals is increasing.
The war is a huge shock for any country, but despite everything, people in Ukraine continue to go to work, look for work, and reorganize their businesses.
Ukrainians are proving that optimism is a truly invaluable phenomenon.
Last week Friisberg & Partners International was privileged to be invited to participate in the Ukraine Recovery Conference 2023 (URC23) in London from 21st – 23rd June. It is an annual global conference and was this year organized and hosted by the governments of the United Kingdom and, of course, Ukraine. URC23 brought together a coalition of thousands of representatives from civil society, businesses and governments from 59 countries to discuss and commit to support for Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction.
Elena Maysyura, who leads our office in Kyiv, was joined by Lorri Lowe and Andrew Guy from our office in London. Speakers at the conference included Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his Ukrainian counterpart, Denys Shmyhal, as well as President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (who confirmed that Ukraine’s accession to the EU is imminent), US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, foreign ministers of EU countries, and others.
We know that Ukraine has significant economic potential. The international community came together at the conference to unlock the potential of the private sector to help Ukraine’s economic recovery. This, in turn, will support the country to come back stronger, as a modern, stable and resilient democracy.
"By building Ukraine, we are building much more than one country, we are building the world.
"Will it be peaceful? Will it be stable? Will it be democratic? It depends on each and every one of us."President Zelenskyy (video remarks)
The focus of day three of this year’s conference was to advance private sector participation in the Ukrainian recovery and for this URC23 was hailed a great success, with one of the largest international financial commitments for reconstruction since the Second World War. By the end of the event, a total of some US$60 billion in international commitments had been made.
It was noteworthy that a recurring theme at URC2023 was the strength of human capital already in Ukraine and the willingness of the Ukrainian diaspora to rebuild the economy back home - not just after the war, but now.
With our office in Kyiv and many more in other cities in Europe and around the world, Friisberg & Partners International is ideally placed to identify and secure the right leadership for Ukraine's revived businesses and FDI projects.
Friisberg stands with Elena, her team in Kyiv, and her country - we remain united in our support for Ukraine.
Friisberg, as a firm and a multinational family, stands shoulder to shoulder with Elena, our Partner and her team in the Kyiv office.
She has bravely withstood all that Russia can throw at her, and her family.
These are Elena's thoughts, on this day, after 12 months at war:
A year has passed since that terrible moment when I woke up to the sounds of explosions. But the most difficult task, as it turned out, was to wake up my relatives and say the word, 'War'.
Parts of Kyiv look normal on the surface, but daily we hear air raid sirens. There are now few children in the city because so many have been displaced with their mothers or grandparents living elsewhere in Ukraine, or outside the country. The toll of the human suffering has been staggering – thousands have been killed and more than 8 million Ukrainians have left.
People in Ukraine say that your life is divided into 'before' and 'after’ - and it is true.
We have all changed during this year, but we are not broken and we believe in Victory. It keeps us going.
Ukraine will continue to defend the unarguable fact that it belongs within Europe. We uphold the values, rights and freedoms that underpin Western civilization.
The Friisberg family looks forward to holding a Partner Conference in what will again be a free Kyiv, as capital of a sovereign Ukraine.
Friisberg & Partners International believes Ukraine should remain an independent sovereign nation, and we wanted to offer more than just words in support of the people of Ukraine at this time of conflict and crisis.
Friisberg has specialised in cross-border co-operation in Executive Search since 1977. Our Partners and Consultants all share a strong desire to combine our skills, resources and networks and to share our expertise in support of an economically sustainable and inclusive future for Ukraine.
Ukraine has some significant economic advantages: its well-educated people, its large domestic market, its natural resources - including some of Europe’s very best agricultural land - and its location on major trading routes over land and sea. Despite the war, Ukrainian economic activity continues, and in time will recover fully.
Elena and her team already works extensively within Ukraine’s senior executive community, and it is our hope and intention that when international businesses decide to invest in Ukraine, they will choose Friisberg as the Executive Search firm best placed to both understand multinational business and identify talented Ukrainian leaders for their investments.
Having graduated from the TACIS Program of the HR Management Faculty at Kyiv National University, Elena now has twenty-eight years of practical experience in the HR sphere and nineteen years in executive search, with a particular focus on cross-border search assignments for international companies with a interests in Ukraine and the CIS.
Under Elena’s supervision and with her direct involvement, a leading Ukrainian law firm successfully underwent the international HR audit and certification process, and became the first Ukrainian Company and the first Law Firm in the CIS to be awarded “Investors in People”. She has also successfully completed a practical course on the Lean Six Sigma methodology and received a certificate from The European Black Belt Institute and writes extensively on HR strategies and policies.
Our new Kyiv office already counts several of Ukraine’s leading brands among its clients, including: Teva, Sandoz, PwC, AC Nielsen, Elementum Energy, VR Capital, MSD, Organon, DHL Express, DHL Global Forwarding, Glass Troesch, DTEK, D.Trading, BASF, Hilti, DCH, and Dr.Reddy’s.
Zoltan Petho, Chair of Friisberg said, “With a Kyiv office, we are able to offer real and meaningful support to Ukraine. We acknowledge that these are turbulent times, but we can also see the opportunities, and our new office is an expression of our determination and willingness to enable international companies that want to invest, establish a presence, and succeed in Ukraine. Whatever the circumstances, we are fully committed to extending the reach and ability of our clients to attract the best talent.”