When Roman Ivaniv went on a sunny vacation in February, he didn’t realize he was saying goodbye to his home country of Ukraine. Within days of landing in Sri Lanka with his partner, Russia began its invasion.

“I didn't expect that and it was very hard,” said Ivaniv, pictured above.  “I was hoping that we will win the war in one, maybe two months. But it was escalating and there was no ending in sight. That’s why I decided to think about what to do next, because it was not safe to return to Ukraine.”

Ivaniv and his partner are living in Vancouver, where he works for Scotiabank as a mobile engineer, a field in which he had eight years of experience in Ukraine. He is one of several Ukrainians who have found employment at the Bank, part of the organization’s broader push on multiple fronts to support those impacted by Russia’s escalating war while bringing in skilled talent.

“I like the people here,” said Ivaniv. “People are really friendly. Everyone is so helpful.”

In the months since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February, many cities and key infrastructure have been destroyed or suffered serious damage and there have been thousands of casualties. Millions of Ukrainians have fled or been displaced and the conflict has been intensifying in recent months.

When it became clear that returning to Ukraine — where many of Ivaniv’s friends and family remain — was not an option any time soon, he and his partner began looking at various countries where they could work and live.

One of the things that drew him to Canada was the federal government’s offer of work permits for Ukrainian nationals, and the relative ease in obtaining them, he said.

After several interviews from Sri Lanka with various companies in Canada and elsewhere, he chose Scotiabank, in part because the hiring process was able to move fast when time was of the essence.

Within a couple of weeks, Ivaniv had multiple rounds of interviews with the Bank and an offer in hand. By May, Ivaniv and his partner were in Vancouver, where Scotiabank provided temporary accommodation for them − an element that was a massive help, he said.

“It was a lifesaver for me. It’s really hard to find accommodation when you’re abroad, when you don’t have credit history and references,” he said. “And accommodations are really expensive.”

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For us, we’re gaining diverse talent, diverse mindset and a wealth of knowledge and experience,” she said. “But as I see it, you’re not just changing one person’s life. You are bringing the entire family here. It’s a domino effect, it’s generational.

Geetika Issar, Senior Global Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; Strategy & Programs - Talent Acquisition

Scotiabank has been working since March with TalentLift Canada, a non-profit talent agency that helps members of refugee populations access employment relocation and is providing urgent assistance to Ukrainians displaced by the war. The Bank committed $270,000 — part of a $1-million commitment towards Ukraine humanitarian and resettlement efforts — to TalentLift to help connect with Ukrainian candidates with in-demand skills. This commitment to TalentLift is part of ScotiaRISE, the Bank’s 10-year, $500-million initiative to promote economic resilience among disadvantaged groups.

“We are ready to respond to Ukrainians impacted by the war in multiple ways, including through employment," said Karen Soos, Director, Social Impact at Scotiabank. "They have immense talent to contribute and having suitable job opportunities is an essential piece to rebuilding.”

An accelerated hiring process has been key for hiring Ukrainian nationals, said Geetika Issar, Senior Global Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion; Strategy & Programs - Talent Acquisition.

Typically, the process of hiring candidates internationally can take anywhere from six to 15 months, said Issar, but those displaced from war can’t wait that long.

'It's a domino effect, it's generational'

Initially, the Bank shared job postings with TalentLift, which would then seek out candidates who matched the criteria. However, trying to identify and track down candidates, with whom it was sometimes difficult to maintain communication as they were fleeing war, would take as long as a month or two, she added.

In July, the process was changed to review skillsets needed on a regular basis, rather than review current openings, and identify strong candidates as they are aware of them to speed things up.

Being able to help support displaced Ukrainians in this way has been personally rewarding, she added.

“For us, we’re gaining diverse talent, diverse mindset and a wealth of knowledge and experience,” she said. “But as I see it, you’re not just changing one person’s life. You are bringing the entire family here. It’s a domino effect, it’s generational.”

The Bank has also sought to provide job opportunities for displaced Ukrainians already in Canada.

Scotiabank employee Yuliya Stefanyshyn, who was born in Ukraine but left eight years ago, is part of Scotia Digital and has been assisting with efforts to hire Ukrainians. In April, when she joined the Bank as Senior Consultant, Talent Acquisition, she saw a big influx of Ukrainian newcomers to Canada and she wanted to help.

“I actually posted on Facebook saying, ‘Hey, I work at Scotiabank. And if you just recently came or you need any help, just send me a resume.’ At that time, I received so many requests on LinkedIn. It was overwhelming,” she said.

She decided to streamline the process and, with the support of her manager, created a job posting targeting Ukrainians in Toronto. Stefanyshyn helps go through the profiles they receive and connect candidates with jobs that can fit their skills.  

Career fairs for newcomers

For Stefanyshyn, whose family is in Ukraine, it was important to help her fellow Ukrainians in any way she can.

“That’s why I felt deeply, how can I help them here? I can try to hire people and help them settle if they’re looking to relocate and escape their current situation,” she said. “Putting up job postings, or having coffee chats. Everyone is so grateful just to speak to someone who can guide them a little bit or support them.”

Stefanyshyn’s team also held an information session and career fair in July to help provide guidance on the application process in Canada, resume preparation, interviews and other tips and tricks.

As well, Scotiabank’s retail and global operations teams held a one-day hiring and career event in July in partnership with Access Employment. The event was initially designed to focus on displaced Ukrainians, but was also expanded to include newcomers from Afghanistan and other areas.

Across these various efforts, roughly two-dozen Ukrainians have been hired by Scotiabank across various departments since the war began.

Ivaniv says he enjoys working remotely as a senior developer from Vancouver as part of Scotiabank’s Digital Factory, part of the team that supports the Bank’s mobile app.

“The project is super fun and the team is really helpful,” he said.

Until it is safe to go back to Ukraine, he expects to remain in Canada.

“Maybe I will try to get permanent residency. I will think about it, but it looks like I will stay for some time in Canada. Five years, six years, I don’t know. But in general, I think I’m going to go back home.”