From a Senior Position in a Bank to a Garment Manufacturing Business: The Tale of Yuriy Samets, a KEMBA Graduate

From the Deputy CEO of a bank – to the founder of a garment manufacturing business! Graduates of Key Executive MBA of Lviv Business School of UCU (LvBS) are people who have a solid business background, but are ready to rethink their experience and learn throughout their lives. One striking example is our graduate Yuriy Samets: after completing the training programme in 2014 and serving as the Deputy CEO of the Lviv City Branch of Oshchadbank (Savings Bank) JSC for three years, Yuriy completely changed his focus area and set up his own business.

What it means to be successful, why study, if the business works just fine, and how to apply the knowledge gained in daily operations – Yuriy Samets already has answers to these questions and shared them in the interview he gave us immediately after graduating from Key Executive MBA programme. However, new times brought new challenges, so we meet with Yuriy again to talk about how the knowledge gained in LvBS proves useful to him now.

Shortly after graduation, you chose to leave the banking business and set up a garment manufacturing business of your own. What exactly prompted you for such a step?

I had this idea of setting up my own business for a long time. Already as a student, I opened my first store and started selling shirts. My primary focus was work for the bank, while, on weekends, I met with the suppliers of shirts and delved into accounting. It was a sort of hobby. I started thinking about a manufacturing business seriously while studying at the Business School; in addition, I had to work on the idea as part of my graduation project. Actually, it was a project involving the creation of a manufacturing business and a network of retail outlets. Yes, I started my defence with the words: “I have an idea…”

Tell us more about your business? Why did it have to be this segment?

We created our company, Sambay, in January 2015. At first, it was managed mostly by my wife. This is a family business. My wife now works with clients and manages the actual manufacturing site, while I’m focused on finance and marketing. It is very important that there are people with different types of thinking in the team. My wife is an unstoppable start-upper and an activist, whereas, I, in contrast, am more pragmatic and even-tempered. We have a great balance :).

While managing our shirt store, we gathered information from customers and suppliers. We researched the market, learned about customer preferences and followed the manufacturers closely. In 2014, the time came when China started reorienting towards its domestic market, and Ukrainian producers went on to actively export their output, which resulted into a vacuum in the local market. The choice was obvious.

Please, elaborate on what role business education and Key Executive MBA played in these changes?

One of our instructors asked “What value will what you’re doing today have for you, your children, your parents or your society in 20 years?” Or: “Let’s count how many salaries you’re going to earn in your entire life and think about your financial plans for the future”, said Mykhailo Kolisnyk. Or, again, “What are sales about? – They are about trust in the first place,” emphasised Mykhailo Vynnytskyi. Each training module added new elements to this puzzle. True, the picture didn’t fall into place right away; it took a whole year to rethink what I learnt and make my own conclusions. And that is perfectly normal for such MBA programmes. As a result, I started my own business, which we’re actively and happily developing now.

It’s been a few years since you graduated. Do you still use any of the tools or guides received in the programme? Which ones exactly?

The finance people have a joke: “Why did the company raise prices, dismissed half of its staff and switched to work in two shifts? – Because they got back down to the math!” In our business, planning, calculations, forecasts and analysis are an integral part of each project. Much attention is paid to operational processes. After a study tour to Asia, kaizen and cost-effective production became an indispensable component of our production process. We have people working for us who make us proud. This team wasn’t built in an eye blink. Two years of constant interviews with applicants, setting up a motivational component and organizing work space have paid off. Communication and HR also proved to be super important courses in Key Executive MBA programme.

How would you describe your personal and professional development after studies?

Well, I quit as Deputy CEO of the Bank :). In fact, a major impetus to learn came from the understanding that Oshchadbank was entering the era of active development, and I needed to be prepared for this. As a result, I made it into the top 100 of the internal Oshchadleader programme, becoming one of the four participants of the meeting, the first of its kind in the Bank’s history, between activists with the Chairman of the Board dedicated to the development and change in the Bank. Back then, the Bank had a 30,000-strong workforce, and going mainstream felt incredibly interesting and responsible. However, my biggest achievement after studies was still the establishment of my own business. Job in the bank has its advantages, but your own business gives you so many more opportunities and creates strategic value. So this is why I’m here.

At School, we pay a lot of attention to LvBS Alumni and Community. You are their member. What, in your opinion, is their greatest value?

I can talk about the LvBS community for hours. These are people who amaze. This is a place where young people can hear the stories of great success first-hand, and the owners of “factories, newspapers and steamers” can get inspired by emerging start-uppers. More than that, it’s also a huge professional network. With all industries, all levels represented. And, most importantly, everyone is open to communication. LvBS Alumni and Community rule!