When Sangeetha Navaratnam and Peumalee Chandrasiri took over the governance of the Australia and New Zealand region in July 2020, they were facing the daunting task of re-engaging with a region isolated by Covid. Relationships with clients had suffered through a lack of travel and face to face interaction, and it was almost impossible to win new business given the constraints. They were both chosen for their tenacity, their amazing communication skills and their determination to reinvigorate relationships with existing customers in the region and through recommendation, win new business.
Initially they were looking after four main logos, Ramsay Healthcare, TerryWhite Chemmart, Leap In! and an ethical micro-trading company which dealt on the US stock Market. Sangeetha was appointed as Head of Technology and Peumalee as Head of Regional Delivery. Peumalee says, “The personal challenge for me was huge. I’d just moved from a role as Delivery Manager with Virtusa in Australia to a new country and a new company. My role had also changed enormously and now encompassed everything from lead generation to delivery.”
2020 was a year of planning and getting to grips with the scope of the challenge within the region. Sangeetha says, “I moved from Delivery Architect to Head of Technology. Being given responsibility for running part of the business was overwhelming to start with, but we had great support from Chinthi and Sanjeev, and although we were thrown in at the deep end, they kept the training wheels on, so it worked very well.” Peumalee concurs, “Although we were responsible for the Profit and Loss of the region, there were certain aspects of profitability that we were not held accountable for, so this helped ease us into the role somewhat.” Peumalee adds, “The amount of pressure was matched by the level of support we received, and we had the opportunity to learn on the job.”
The global pandemic made everything harder, with international travel curtailed, and Australia in particular, closed for many months. Peumalee says, “Sustaining existing client relationships and following up leads was extremely difficult, but I think we did an OK job. In some respects, because we don’t have boots on the ground in Australia, our clients were more impressed with how well we managed through lockdown, with our commitment and communication as well as our cultural sensitivity.”
It took Peumalee and Sangeetha around 6 months to get fully up to speed with how the business in the ANZ region is run. They started with the day to day issues, managing client success factors and client escalations, and then moved on to thinking more about the future and building a project pipeline to ensure they had more work going forward in order to build the business. Part of this shift was to more strategic planning, client negotiations around rates and timescales and striking longer term deals. “Both Sangeetha and I had experience of all the issues we were now dealing with, but being in charge of the whole orchestration was a steep learning curve,” says Peumalee.
By Q1 2021 some returns on all the hard work could be seen. The ethical micro-trading application was acquired by an emerging Neo Bank based in Australia and Mitra was retained to deliver a real time trading app to the Australian market. Although there were a few issues with the project, these were quickly resolved and Mitra now has scope to provide development support on their Python tech stack. Another new acquisition in Q2 2021 was a unique start-up in Property Technology (PropTech), which introduced a one-of-a-kind financial instrument to Australia.
The PropTech start-up brought an off-plan property purchase model to market, where offering insurance backed contracts meant buyers didn’t have to pay any upfront fees. They chose a third party technology provider to build the platform, using R3 Corda blockchain technology for the secure payment segment and AWS to host. Problems ensued with the project; communication, support and delivery were all poor and two years ago they approached Mitra Innovation, and Peumalee and Sangeetha, to help them rescue their product. With just a codebase to work with, and no associated infrastructure or supporting documentation, Mitra used R3 Corda to deliver the secure financial transaction segment between the PropTech start-up and their insurers providing transparent, seamless, fast and collaborative transactional exchanges. Mitra was able to completely re-architect and mostly re-code a failing system, bringing the product to market in a much accelerated time frame.
Other logos and partnerships followed, Veracity, who specialise in product evaluation, R3Corda, CloudX, Fitness Passport, Bant.io and WSO2. Peumalee explains, “In most cases the engagement has started small and grown with the business. In the case of Veracity we have a managed services agreement in place and with the PropTech start-up there is a team of 8 working on the product just now, though this is likely to double with work planned for Q3 2022.” Sangeetha explains about our partnership with R3Corda, “We were introduced to R3Corda through our relationship with the PropTech startup, and we have trained about 15 of our developers in Corda. Of those, 5 are fully certified Corda developers, and we are continuing to grow the capability and certifications, as well as our expertise on the sales side.”
Presenting with the PropTech start-up at Asia Pacific events has also increased Mitra’s brand awareness in the region, with CloudX and Bant.io being our lead generation partners.
In 2022, the successes are mounting up. Sangeetha and Peumalee are very much in control of the ANZ region, understanding the business, converting leads and developing existing client relationships. It’s safe to say the training wheels have come off. Sangeetha says, “There was a lot of trial and error during the first year, but we have learnt so much and have a sound strategy to take us into the new financial year.” Peumalee agrees, “We spent a lot of time with our clients developing the relationships, working through issues, and this is why word of mouth has worked for us, with strong recommendations bringing in new logos for both development work and managed services contracts.”
Mitra is justly proud of the work done by Sangeetha and Peumalee. Business in the region is blossoming under their leadership, and they have developed a multi-pronged strategy for growth and success. Peumalee asked me to mention that Mitra’s diversity and inclusion values have made this success possible for two working mothers. The Mitra leadership knows exactly what it is doing when they champion talent, determination and ingenuity in each and every employee.