ORIGINALLY from Ukraine, Alex Chernenko reluctantly followed his parents to Ireland as an 18-year-old for a summer and eighteen years later, he is now the CEO of his own company with a wife and three children, here in Cork.
Growing up in Ukraine, Alex learned a lot of languages and when he moved to Ireland, originally settling in Limerick where his parents are based, the Ukrainian could speak his native tongue as well as, Russian, English, Romanian and Turkish.
In Limerick, Alex also learned German at the University of Limerick after completing a four-year bachelor's degree in computer engineering.
“I like languages and developing software, they are the two things that I really enjoy,” Alex said.
After graduating from university in 2009, Alex went on to work as a translator and interpreter for five years on a freelance basis.
“I was translating documents, going to employee hearing tribunals, prisons, hospitals, business meetings, ministerial meetings, state visits, it was across the board,” Alex said.
After five years of working for others, Alex decided to branch out and to set up his own company Translit.
“I realised I could only get paid pennies working for others and clients were coming to me directly anyway, it seemed like the natural progression.
“Languages and computers, I love them both, so I combined them into a company for translation that is run or supported by technology.”
Alex started his company in 2009, which he said was the worst time to start a business due to the recession.
“Business declined everywhere. Twice I had to go back and get a job. So I went from working for others to working for myself to working for others and myself.”
Alex said things started to recover in 2012 but it was not until 2015 that he was able to focus completely on his company as the fully-fledged CEO.
“2015 was the last time I worked for someone else. Then I said that’s it, I’m making good money now on my own, the economy is fully recovered.”
Alex’s wife Tatsiana Skrabatun began helping the company in 2015 and Alex said that was a great benefit.
“When I was alone, it was tough. In 2015, I hired employees so it wasn’t just me doing everything, it got easier after I invested in other people.”
Chatting about the move to Cork after time in Limerick and Dublin, Alex said it was a bit of luck.
I had been in Dublin for three years and then I got a good contract in Cork, so there was a financial factor/reason to move to Cork, but after we moved there and saw all the Cork countryside, we wanted to stay.
“Limerick was too small, Dublin was too big of a city, too noisy, and Cork was the right hub for family, kids, and outdoor activities.”
In Cork Alex is involved in the Business House Athletics (BHAA) races, running 5km and 10km road races.
“I’ve been doing BHAA road races almost six years, I had a couple of injuries from soccer and had to stop for a few years. I had shin splints, ankles twisted and broken and I had to take a break from heavy running and kicking things so I took up yoga and stretching.”
Alex said he still does 5km and 10km races, but he is not as aggressive. “I’m more laid back, I don’t compete as heavily as I used to in the past.”
Having worked in Clonakilty but living in the city, Alex said he enjoyed the multifaceted landscape of Cork.
“I would consider moving to Carrigaline or somewhere closer to water. Being about 20 minutes from the city is ideal.
In his spare time, Alex reads business books about developing various skill sets and enjoys walking and visiting some of Cork’s beauty spots, like Garrettstown, Inchydoney and Kinsale.
The Ukrainian businessman also found some support and mentorship in Cork through the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) which he said was of great assistance to his business.
“We have been busy lately, we have launched new software products and grew the team to 20 people. We have two software products, one launched last year, one last month.”
Alex said his company developed an “Uber for interpreters” app that facilitated a way for people to book a translator in real time.
“It was a smartphone app, we launched it one year ago, but it didn’t pick up because of the pandemic. Everyone is working remotely now, so we are now offering remote interpretation for webinars, training courses, online meetings. It’s what the world needs right now.”
Chatting about progressing his company, Alex said it’s been an interesting journey, “challenging and exciting at the same time.”
Looking ahead, Alex said he would like to stay in Cork in the future.
“I enjoy the diverse and vibrant culture in Cork. I’m always looking for things to do and in pre-pandemic times, there is always something happening in Cork.”
Local Enterprise Week 2021 takes place from today to Friday, March 5, 2021. All of the events throughout the week are free of charge and online this year.
Throughout the week there will be workshops on helping with applying for the Trading Online Voucher, Business Advice Clinics and Funding the Digitalisation of SMEs.
For further information on the list of the free events and activities taking place in Cork City during Local Enterprise Week visit www.localenterprise.ie/CorkCity.