Volodymyr Harazd: “Security, Quality Living and Attention to Detail – These Are the Three Pillars We Stand On”

It was in 2009 that Volodymyr’s life took a new turn. By that time, he already had six years of professional experience with Galnaftogaz Concern and continued his rapid career growth in Vash Dim (Your House) residential construction company. Since 2014, he has led the development sub-holding, which brings together three companies: Vash Dim (residential construction), Technopark (office real estate) and Progresstechbud (general contractor). It was during this period that he completed his training with Lviv Business School of UCU. In conversation with Volodymyr Harazd, KEMBA LvBS graduate, we will talk about the specifics and challenges of the residential construction sector in Ukraine, the impact of business education on his management style and life tenets that have been the key to his professional and personal success.

 

On the specifics and challenges of the residential construction sector in Ukraine: “We live in a truly unique time. The residential construction segment is completely open. Nothing and no one prevents new players from entering this market, there are no legal restrictions. At first glance, it’s good. However, such rules of the game are rather shaky, insofar as they give a green light to newly-created companies, which, in a bid to make big money, neglect the most important – the construction industry’s rules and laws. For our Company, this situation clearly creates opportunities to make a difference. Security, quality living and attention to detail – these are the three pillars we stand on.

Vash Dim focuses on the implementation of large-scale residential projects. Whether it’s Pasichny, Lviv’s largest residential estate, or Villa Magnolia, a residential estate, which is unique in its architectural and residential space planning solutions, our large team is fully committed to deliver on the project at hand. More than 2,000 families have trusted us with their hope for a better future – to make their dreams of own home and place come true. Their trust is the most important thing. We know each of our residents, we meet with our clients, we live in the same community, and we take responsibility. By creating quality projects to high standards, we introduce new products and make them available on the market. Security of residential estates is an absolute priority, because families with children represent a majority of residents of our estates. Thus, comfort and safe living are the main principles we stick to. And more than that – we pay a great deal of attention to the detail.

We also learn to provide maintenance services, we actually create them from scratch. There are next to no experts in this area in the country, which is a lingering vestige of the Soviet past. While this is a major problem for the industry, we take it up as a challenge. After all, any construction project consists of three major stages: concept, construction and maintenance (starting from such trivial things as cleaning and up to booking service calls). It is precisely the provision of maintenance services that is a sore spot. We would like to expand the maintenance offering package, but more often than not customers are not ready to pay for it because of low income.

Our Company is a game changer in the market, because we learn from Western architectural projects, which makes us want to “beef up” our market offer to high standards. For example, a concept of one- or two-room apartment is virtually non-existent in Europe; rather, a single- or two-bedroom apartment would make more sense. We also take the number of bedrooms as a basis; we have introduced this practice here. This means not just a different name for an apartment; it is a wholly different concept, a completely different design. We work with young progressive architects who share our vision. We are lucky that the young Ukrainian professionals who work for us are very talented and just as good as their international peers. Their names might not ring the bells just yet, but future belongs to them. Indeed, in Europe, everyone knows the name of the architect rather than the company that works on a project.”

 

On Vash Dim Company and the key to successful development. Young people embrace innovation, while the older generation contributes experience:

“We have over 200 employees in our Company, and the people are our greatest asset. Ordinary builders and plasterers, mega talented architects and designers, financiers and sales managers – everyone is in the right place and contributes to the success of Vash Dim. All the coolest developer things start with an idea, but its implementation also falls to the staff. When we discuss a specific construction project or a solution, I always ask: “Would you like to live in a building like this?” And if our employees say: “Yes, we like it,” we understand we’re on the right way.

 

It is important for me as a manager that our employees outdo themselves, learn, and acquire new valuable knowledge. That’s why, every year, we go on foreign trips with the team, to feel new European architectural trends, learn and implement the most promising concepts. That is why every new building we build is better than the previous one. We are changing and do not remain where we were.”

 

On the impact of studies in LvBS on career and management approaches:

“Studies in LvBS represented a chance not only to develop professionally, but also to grow as a person. The approaches, values, philosophy that I learned in the Business School automatically projected onto my approach to decision-making and planning. For example, our Company abandoned short-term planning to focus, as far as possible under the existing circumstances, on long-term strategies only. In general, my studies seemed extremely well-timed. After all, our business experienced two crises [i.e., in 2008 and 2013], and the LvBS programme helped me understand all these things and go through them with composure, to cope with the challenges. It was an intense and driving period in my life, full of so many important events.”

 

On future plans and the Рlay Land Project:

“We continue work on projects that we started 3 years ago. Those are quite large-scale projects, and, depending on the situation on the market, we will be implementing them at different paces.

As far as new projects are concerned, as an example, I’ll quote the Play Land Project, which I defended while studying in the Key Executive MBA programme. This is a centre for active development and entertainment, the idea of which came up for two reasons. First, I have kids. When I take them out to the playground, I want a place where they would not just spend time, but also develop. Second, there is no such place in Lviv. There are small projects, but not one structured large space. The main idea of the Play Land is a combination of different types of schools and developing thematic rides in one place. Imagine: education and amusement two in one! It’s cool! Kids will learn while having fun! Seeing this project taking shape is my cherished dream. As of today, it’s not on the agenda due to macroeconomic indicators. I think its time will come as soon as the situation in the country settles down! Let’s go back to this topic in, say, 5 years…

Further, as a residential construction company, we want to reach the level that will enable us to raise investments whenever we need them. As of today, our industry is risky in terms of international investment. But I'm confident that this will change, so we already prepare to meet future investors. We develop our portfolio, implement projects that may capture the attention of European investors. We learn, gather valuable experience and knowledge. I hope that, in the near future, cooperation with Vash Dim will be a priority for European partners!”