As a member of the Ukrainian parliament, Andrii Zhupanyn knew that studying an Executive MBA (EMBA) at London Business School would provide him with lots of options going forwards. When his full parliamentary role became untenable due to the war in Ukraine, Andrii decided to invest in becoming a student again.
Prior to joining Verkhovna Rada, Andrii spent nine years working in leading Ukrainian law firms. To fulfil his current parliamentary obligations, Andrii travels between Ukraine and London each month. Securing a London Business School Leadership in Excellence Award scholarship made this possible.
I first joined the Ukrainian parliament three years ago, months after I celebrated my 30th birthday. It’s young to be an MP, but I’m not the youngest. In fact, approximately 20% of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is aged 24-35, which makes it the youngest parliament in our country’s history.
I’m a chairman on the subcommittee on natural gas. My main task is to prepare draft laws and present them. But since the start of the war, the intensity of my work has significantly dropped. In other words, my job in parliament before the war started is completely different to what it is today. Most of the laws we currently adopt deal with defence and financial issues with all future-looking and visionary projects being put on hold.
I decided to leave the capital and go to my hometown, Vynohradiv, to work hosting internally displaced Ukrainians. I knew I could also organise humanitarian aid since my hometown was close to three international borders. That was the second day of war when I called the ambassadors of Ukraine to Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary. The next day, we received our first delivery. News spread and quickly the momentum built. Over three months, I brought 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine. I had 50 volunteers working at my warehouses. Every night, we’d gather in the offices and have lists of problems and try to solve them. It was like a start-up. Also, I fundraised 500,000 euros to buy trucks and equipment.
It was around then that I had the idea to study an EMBA. I had some free time and I decided to invest it by becoming a student again. I thought the EMBA at London Business School was the best thing for me. It appealed that it was part time, so I could fulfil my duties – in case everything went back to normal, for instance, and I had to be in parliament as I had been before.
My background is as a lawyer. I have a Master of Law with distinction from Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, a top university in Ukraine, and an LLM degree with distinction from Leiden Law School in the Netherlands. Having such a strong educational background, I knew I’d feel at home in London.
I wanted to do an EMBA because I want to be fully prepared for the post-war recovery of Ukraine. I know that by doing an EMBA at London Business School I will have lots of options going forwards.
The Leadership in Excellence Award provided by London Business School secured my place on EMBA programme. I truly believe that I after my successful graduation from EMBA programme I would be better equipped to participate in the post-war recovery of my country either as a high-level state official (e.g., member of the Government) or CEO of a state-owned energy company. Getting skills that may help to me start my own business can be also seen as a positive side effect of my study.
My highlights to date on the EMBA have been numerous. In the first term, Managerial Economics with Jean-Pierre Benoît, was excellent. In the first lecture, he explained things in very clear and engaging ways, that even with my lawyer background, I could understand. Then there’s Kathleen O’Connor and her Developing Leaders course, which was also excellent. She is so inspiring. The only question we had for her was ‘Are you doing any other classes, as we would like to participate!’. Then there’s Ian Cooper, Corporate Finance. I love his lessons and the way he explains things – the toughness of the questions he writes. That’s how you learn, in my opinion – by struggling.
My relationship with my peers on the programme has been surprising because when you have a group of 50 people who are intelligent, driven, and dynamic, it becomes an interesting mix. You end up with lots of different viewpoints. Fifty different ideas, and everyone has a dedication to what they’re doing. They’re very like you, in outlook and attitude, but doing different things in their lives.
I still live in Ukraine, so at least once in a month I spend 54 hours travelling to stay in London for 48 hours. It’s always a pleasure as I get to spend time with top people, top students. Everyone’s very successful and has their own story. They are excellent and unique in the area they’re in. I’m studying a great deal, we’ve lots of assignments. It’s really pushing me, in the best way.
My goal is to stay in public management for at least the next five years and participate in the post-war recovery of my Ukraine. However, my main priority is to live in a new, better and fully recovered Ukraine. We should not restore things here, but should build everything from a scratch using the best technologies and up-to-date experience. It’s hard for me to talk about my future as nowadays there are more important things than my personal goals. The only dream that I have is to live peacefully millions of other Ukrainians in a country we are all calling the Motherland.