Customertimes stands with Ukraine

Alex Patsko on AI, Robotics, and Accessible Technology

Alex Patsko exhibited an aptitude for technology at an early age – but he sometimes expressed it in ways that alarmed his family. 

“I grew up in Ukraine, and when I was 7 or 8, I was keen on sticking wires into electrical sockets to scare my parents,” says Alex, CEO CT Software at Customertimes. “And I have to say, I was successful in my goal.” 

Alex’s mischievous phase didn’t last long, however. He joined a computer club, taught himself coding BASIC and FORTRAN, and wrote his first mainframe computer code at the age of 13. 

“By the time I was 15, I was writing computer games,” he recalls. “I was living and breathing code. I’d sleep, wake up, eat, write code – that was about it.” 

Given his commitment and innate talent, it’s no surprise that Alex’s skills and ambition expanded rapidly. He moved from binary code to fuzzy logic, the foundational template for today’s AI, and soon, Alex discovered a certain knack for entrepreneurship: he began selling games at Kyiv’s urban markets. 

“I sold a lot of games, and in order to be able to explain what the game is about, I played them all… I did enjoy this gig, especially the entrepreneurial side of it, but soon I felt I needed to move beyond selling computer games.” 

Ukraine as a Tech Hub

It didn’t take long to find something better. Ukraine was developing as a European hub for technological expertise by the mid-1990s, and Alex landed a job at a major national systems integrator; in short order, he was promoted to business development manager.  

“In 1998, I was hired by SAP – I was one of their first Ukrainian recruits, and I led Ukrainian market development for their ERP.” 

A few years later, Alex joined one of his clients as a project manager on an SAP implementation for Sales & Revenue Management, which happened to be one of the first SAP CRM projects in Europe. Determined to optimize his administrative chops, Alex enrolled in the MBA program at INSEAD in Paris. He secured his degree and joined one of the first mobile gaming companies. “This was the first time I felt that my career made the first full cycle,” said Alex. “I felt like I had played those games already back in the market in Kyiv”. 

He wanted something more, though – so he started his own company, MyVocal, a mobile audio content service for commuters. Alex spent 2 years building MyVocal, nurturing his vision from initial idea to product release in Europe, the US, and Australia. However, the life of the entrepreneur is bumpy, and he eventually sold the assets and moved to a “normal job” at the railway engineering company ALSTOM.  

“The job at Alstom was so different from my previous startup jobs that I literally considered resigning on my second week. But I ended up working more than 4 years there, meeting many brilliant people and signing several hundred-million-dollar-plus projects. 

“At a certain point, I was about to become a regional MD of Alstom, and I met my friends from Customertimes. They invited me to Dreamforce 2013, and there it became clear that I missed the dynamic IT world so much. Taking an executive role at Alstom would be a one-way ticket for my career, so I took a deep breath and resigned from Alstom to start building what became CT Software and CT Europe a few years later.” 

AI, Robotics, and Good Coffee

If Alex’s decision was Alstom’s loss, it was certainly a gain for Customertimes. He currently leads CT’s initiatives in Europe, spearheading multiple commercial campaigns across a range of business sectors. And while his role is administrative, he attributes his effectiveness to his lifelong passion for technology. 

“In a lot of ways, I’m still that little kid in Kyiv, splicing wires and sticking them in electrical sockets,” Alex says. “I can promote and implement our solutions because I understand how powerful and effective they are – I know and believe in the technology that supports them.” 

Nor have his creative impulses waned. He continues to build things simply because he can, and he loves doing it. Currently, his main DIY project is a robotic coffee dispensing machine that he hopes to install at CT booths in upcoming trade shows. 

“I’ve always been fascinated with robotics, and I really enjoy the hands-on aspect of hardware,” Alex observes. “It’s magic when software and hardware come together, especially when it results in accessible technology like this coffee dispenser. It came about after I spent some time observing people interacting at trade shows, and I realized two things motivated them to hang around and chat. First – you have to have something cool at the booth, something that engages interest. And second – people like good coffee. My machine meets both requirements.”

Alex doesn’t cast himself as a futurologist, but his sensitivity to technological trends is both central to his nature and part of his job. So what does he see evolving in the near-to-mid-term? 

“I think we’re at that tipping point where we see AI really fulfilling its promise,” he says, “and robotics is going to be a huge part of that. The necessary technologies are widely dispersed now – inexpensive and literally taught in primary schools. The conflation of AI and robotics is accelerating and exciting. It feels like Isaac Azimov stories will become reality in the near future.”  

CT: Culture and Family

For Alex, Dreamforce is an opportunity to connect with colleagues who are at the point of the spear of digital transformation.  

“I’m looking forward to participating in the events and socializing,” he says, “but for me, the greatest value is confirming CT’s strategic position in the Salesforce ecosystem. We want to strengthen relationships with existing clients, and through their endorsements, develop relationships with new clients. 

“Customertimes is a culture – even a family,” he says. “We understand if somebody wants to leave and try something else… but we’re also extremely happy when they come back… Quite a few of our associates made this comeback, so we are always extending the farewell drinks with an offer to come back.” 

Alex is also proud that Customertimes was founded by Ukrainians and remains active in – and resolutely committed to – Ukraine.  

“The fact that we started in an emerging economy and organically grew to the size we are says a lot about our cultural DNA,” he says. “And as terrible as the war is, it has reinforced my sense of national identity. One of CT’s primary missions is creating more jobs in Ukraine, and that’s my personal mission as well. I’m contributing a good deal of my time and income to making that happen, to making Ukraine a top destination for IT careers.  

“And the response we’re getting from both the global community and Ukrainians eager to participate has been overwhelming. I feel honored to be associated with my company, and I feel privileged to be Ukrainian.”

figure

Coming to Dreamforce?

Meet with Alex and the rest of the Customertimes solution experts in San Francisco Sept 20-22. Find us at booth 441!

I'll Be There