Welcome to We Are Acvian, a series introducing key players behind the company’s name. With the Employer of Record (EOR) market more saturated than ever, it is increasingly challenging to evaluate the expertise and trustworthiness of a certain provider – this is why we are committed to bridging the gap between those who deliver the service and those who receive it, in line with our people-first approach. We invite you to take a look behind the scenes for a transparent and many-sided perspective on our team’s background, professional outlook, and their thoughts on international HR, payroll, and business expansion. You can also expect relatable work-life balance tips and deep dives into how the EOR business functions.

Tania Streltsova Acvian CEO

There are two common types of top managers in the realm of EOR/PEO/umbrella services – business influencers and busy bees. The first type leverages their social media presence and personal branding as essential components of corporate marketing. They are recurring speakers at public events and business-related podcasts, their LinkedIn articles spark vivid debates, and the aura they emit is that of 360-degree competence and entrepreneurial success. The second type is often left without well-deserved publicity both online and offline – they are restlessly involved in the company’s ongoings, with no time for PR activities. While the business influencer type prompts curiosity about their miraculous time management skills and the level of actual engagement, the ‘invisible’ CEOs often need to step out of the shadows for better transparency and a deeper public understanding of their business ethos.

At Acvian, we advocate for skillful and effective management behind the digital facade, but also recognize the importance of digital representation. With this said, meet our CEO.

Tania has over 35 years of professional experience under her belt, with a solid educational and professional foundation in labor law and compliance, and over 25 years in top executive roles. Her first project was an NGO that provided legal support to underprivileged demographics in Ukraine and grew to be highly influential on a regional political scale in 1995-1996. A proactive citizen engaged in youth policies, Tania found the business field more transparent than political structures of that time, pursued further managerial education, and turned to the long-term path of business ownership. After 10 years of leading small businesses and upscaling to top management in international companies for another 15 years, Tania was acknowledged as one of the 2019 awardees in Person of the Year Ukraine, an annual award program in professional and public fields.

Tania joined Acvian shortly after its genesis in 2022. As she says, the current position is the perfect meeting point for her personal and professional ambitions to build a self-sufficient, steadily growing company on the international scale.

 

Welcome, Tania! With a professional biography as extensive as yours, why did you decide to test the waters in the Employer of Record field, and how is the journey going so far?

 

Hello and thank you for the question! I am professionally attracted to challenges that come with business growth, and Acvian was conceived in challenging times, so we ‘clicked’ very fast. The switch to Employer of Record, then a relatively new type of service on the global market, was smooth due to my background in the legal field – I basically started my career path with labor law and compliance. When we were still at the startup phase, the global switch to hybrid and fully remote work environments happened, and we embraced it quickly. The whole ‘work-life balance’ approach, or rather ‘LIFE-work’, deeply resonates with me, so I rearranged the company into one with a partly remote, internationally based team and a strong local presence in the European region. So far, we’re witnessing gradual but steady growth: Acvian has established entities in Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia and Czech, and has passed registration of an upcoming branch in Austria. Our team is expanding, too, and this year we are releasing a highly requested branded HR management and payroll tool. 

 

Sounds good indeed! The times that you refer to as challenging, meaning the pandemic years and the following economic issues were not only an emotional rollercoaster for us as individuals, but also reframed the global business vision. What gave you the courage to start, and what kept the company afloat?

 

Lately, ‘crisis’ has been a recurring word – as soon as we hear about a new one, the old one is forgotten. I believe that any crisis, in life or in business, should be perceived as a kind of pause that nurtures an opportunity. For a business, this means the opportunity to access the company’s current position, engage in strategic planning, and review the marketing approach. The time to focus on researching the market and your competitors, on improving the product itself rather than output and sales.

Microsoft is a great example. They increased investment in the Microsoft Teams product when more and more companies worldwide were switching to the remote work model and needed high-quality conferencing software. After the pandemic crisis passed, Microsoft was able to retain its new, broader customer base. And I can think of many more tech solutions tailored specifically for remote work – in Acvian, we use over 25 types of software on a daily basis!

The EOR niche also caters to digital-driven reformation of the global work environment. Even extremely qualified specialists may lose their jobs in locations where the market is oversaturated, becoming available to employers worldwide who are ready to hire internationally. This is when Employer of Record steps in, helping forward-thinking companies to optimize their workforce and spendings.

At Acvian, we knew that any crisis is followed by recovery. Another thing is, in a crisis you have nearly (or absolutely) nothing to lose, but also cannot afford a nonchalant attitude to budgets and resources. The circumstances pressured our team to be mindful and productive, and it became the basis for a slower paced, but steadier progress. In fact, I’m not a fan of venture capital in EOR, and firmly believe that building a self-sufficient company that fuels its own growth at a sustainable pace is the best approach in the long term.

 

In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of venture capital funding vs. traditional business financing in EOR?

 

Venture funding means investing in a company’s equity capital and generating returns through capital gains, while traditional funding comes from a company’s current income. Venture capital is a great way to kickstart a business with significant market potential, but it comes hand in hand with a high risk of flopping. Traditional businesses tend to avert potential risks and focus on gradual and sustainable growth.

EOR companies unsurprisingly attract venture capital. It’s a market that grows fast in line with tech advancement and popularization of remote work. Over the past 3 years, EOR platforms have become a separate segment of the market, offering a convenient way of service delivery more than the service itself. Generous budgets allow players fueled by venture capital to blow up fast, hiring big teams and splurging on digital marketing. These spendings result in higher service fees for the end client and do not necessarily convert into service quality. 

They are opposed by traditional HR companies that have been in the labor resources segment for decades and continue to develop in a self-sufficient way. As times change, the traditional approach loses quite a bit of the market share. These companies need to adapt and transform in order to stay afloat in the technologically advanced reality.

Both groups cannot deliver their services without reliable local partners, such as Acvian. I was taught to approach business with stability and thoroughness as top priorities, and Acvian offers the missing pieces of puzzles to both EOR models as a local provider. A business matures like a living being, as one of my mentors said. As we mature, we gain experience, adaptability, and a better understanding of how to reach customer satisfaction.

 

As you’ve mentioned before, a part of your team works and is managed remotely. How do you personally feel about remote leadership? Are there any long-term benefits to it?

 

Acvian is a company with a mixed form of presence: our European entities have physical locations, with colleagues working hard on-site, while Accounting, Compliance, and Marketing are fully remote. Our hybrid team structure allows for maximum productivity and exchange among departments, and the latest digital tools completely reformed our workflow in the way that saves everyone’s time and resources. Our team members work from different time zones, providing 12 hours a day of availability to clients and their employees.

Now, to my personal experience. I used to work in office environments for decades. It took some time to get adjusted to the new reality, but after 2 years of partly remote leadership, I’d never go back! Maintaining the team spirit and keeping motivation levels high can be challenging in a digital environment, but it’s worth it. I travel a lot for business and frequently see some of my colleagues in person, but can’t deny the benefits of working from home. It spikes productivity and leaves way more time for life: healthcare, hobbies, physical activities, traveling, and socializing outside work. After all, I believe that people’s lives come first. This is the main principle that defines our working ethos, and one of my key personal values. I am building a business with people and for people.

 

This is something we all would love to hear more often, especially at work! Thank you for your time, Tania!

 

Thank you, too! My well-wishes go to our readers, and I hope we all manage to find and retain the balance between professional success and personal priorities.

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