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When his full parliamentary role became untenable due to the war, Andrii Zhupanyn (EMBALS2024) decided to invest in his future by becoming a student again. The member of the Ukrainian Parliament knew that doing an Executive MBA at London Business School would provide new and exciting options for his future. Prior to joining Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament, Andrii spent nine years with leading Ukrainian law firms. Today, to fulfil his current parliamentary obligations, he travels between Ukraine and London every month – a journey made possible by an LBS Leadership in Excellence Award scholarship. Andrii reveals how he has navigated his way through the ongoing war against Russia, his reflections on his EMBA and his hopes for the future.
I 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, around 20% of the Verkhovna Rada is aged 24-35, which makes it the youngest Parliament in our country’s history. I was inspired by our President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to get into politics. Without any political background, he stepped into pure darkness to try to make his dreams for a prosperous Ukraine true. As we can see now, this was a move that changed not only Ukraine, but also the world.
I’m a chairman on the subcommittee on natural gas. My main task is to prepare draft laws and present them.
Before the war my main focus was on drafting laws related to the development of the Ukrainian oil and gas industry, presenting them in Parliament and advocating for their adoption. Separately, I was trying to build my own public image by giving speeches in Parliament, participating in political television shows and running my YouTube channel. Since the start of the war, however, the intensity of my work has significantly dropped; it is now completely different to what it once was. 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. It was the second day of the 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 compile lists of problems and try to solve them. It was like a startup. I also fundraised €500,000 to buy trucks and equipment.
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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. The decision to come to LBS was obvious to me for several reasons. Firstly, studying in London had been my hope when I was looking for a school for my LLM degree. I ended up in the Netherlands, but London remained in my dreams. Secondly, I saw LBS as a place where history, experience, recognition and faculty provided a unique mix that could not be replicated in other institutions. Lastly, I was intrigued by meeting outstanding personalities, knowing that the school attracts many of them. I decided that the EMBA at LBS was the best opportunity for me as it was part-time and I could continue to fulfil my personal duties. If everything went back to normal, then I could be back in Parliament quickly.
I knew I’d feel at home at LBS, as well as in London itself.
My background is in law; I am a trained lawyer and have a Master of Law with distinction from Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, a top university in Ukraine, as well as an LLM degree with distinction from Leiden Law School in the Netherlands. Having this strong educational background, I knew I’d feel a sense of belonging at LBS.
I wanted to do the EMBA because I hoped to be fully prepared for the post-war recovery of Ukraine.
I knew that doing an EMBA at LBS would give me plenty of options and opportunities going forward.
The Leadership in Excellence Award secured my place on the EMBA programme.
I truly believe that, after my successful graduation from the EMBA programme, I will be better equipped to participate in the post-war recovery of my country; either as a high-level state official (such as a member of the Government) or CEO of a state- owned energy company. Acquiring skills that may assist me in starting my own business would also be a wonderfully positive outcome of my studies.
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 legal background, I could understand. Then there’s Kathleen O’Connor and her Developing Leaders course, which was also superb; she is so inspiring. The only question we had for her was, “Are you doing any other classes, as we would like to participate?!” And there’s Ian Cooper, who teaches Corporate Finance. I love his lessons and the way he explains things and the toughness of the questions he sets. That’s how you learn, in my opinion – by struggling and being challenged.
My relationships with my peers on the programme have 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 and varied 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 alternate things in their lives.
I still live in Ukraine, so at least once 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 inspiring story; they are excellent and unique in the area they’re associated with. I’m studying a great deal and we’ve completed lots of assignments. It’s really pushing me, in the best way possible.
My goal is to stay in public management for at least the next five years and participate in the post-war recovery of Ukraine.
My main priority, however, is to live in a new, better and fully recovered Ukraine. We should not restore things here, but should build everything from scratch using the best technologies and up-to-date knowledge and 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 with millions of other Ukrainians in a country we are all calling the Motherland.
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