A shared vision…
When interviewed in 2016, the founders of Mitra Innovation were asked about the origins of the company and the values it held. The response still holds true today:
Dr. Ashok Suppiah
Group CEO & Co-founder Mitra Group
Founder and COO at Mitra Innovation
Co-Founder & Executive Vice President – Mitra Group
“Three founders with a single vision came together to help entrepreneurs and enterprises build and launch disruptive technology solutions. Having worked with Fortune 500 enterprises and helped over a hundred tech startups in the US, we wanted to accelerate innovation by building end-to-end capabilities. Our goal was to help launch as many successful products and ventures as possible.”
In 2022, Mitra is a global enterprise celebrating ten years of designing and building innovative, disruptive and game changing technology, with an ever growing back catalogue of successful and happy clients and a highly skilled and accomplished workforce who consider themselves a family.
A development, digital transformation and IT services company, headquartered in the UK, with offices in Sri Lanka, Singapore, Australia and the US, the business delivers scalable, digital transformation and integration solutions, with the right level of resource at the right price and with minimal risk. Mitra works collaboratively with organisations, providing insight and creative thinking, combined with expertise of new and emerging technology.
Derek Bell, Co-Founder and COO says: “Innovation is absolutely at the heart of what we do, whether that’s with people or processes or technology, we’re always looking for new angles to deliver innovative customer solutions.”
What we’ve achieved…
There are too many successful innovative customer solutions across the last 10 years to name them all, but let us celebrate a few.
One stands out for endurance and scale. The Travis Perkins Group operates over 20 businesses across the UK, including retailers such as Wickes, Tile Giant and Tool Station and employs more than 29,000 employees across more than 2,000 sites. One of the Mitra stars of this story is Kushan Athukorala, Software Architect in Engineering, who has spent 14 months on the project and learnt a whole new technology, which he in turn trained several colleagues to use.
Kushan says: “We went from a 6 month pilot to a 3 and a half year engagement. This is a large-scale integration project, and we designed a new model for working, establishing a pool of trained engineers.” By becoming the expert on this project, and training the team, Kushan has helped de-risk TP’s long term move away from legacy systems. Chris Stone, Head of IT Development at Travis Perkins says: “There is a strong relationship between us, which is bolstered by Mitra’s drive to find innovative solutions and ensure the best result. The determination and commitment of Mitra is enabling us to achieve our goals for delivering the next generation of tech evolution for Travis Perkins.”
There are many such examples of Mitra employees going above and beyond, bringing complex and challenging projects to successful conclusions. And many of those projects use technology to help people or communities thrive.
Leap In! was one such project and this is what Jane Sheehy, CTO of Leap in! said about Mitra: “Some tech teams are special. They understand the business they’re supporting, have deep technical knowledge, their quality practices support excellence and real achievement, they collaborate and communicate well, everyone works in harmony, and when they make a commitment to achieve a deadline – they deliver it. In short, they make a difference in people’s lives. The Mitra Leap in! team, is a team like this.”
One of the biggest reasons Leap in! was such a resounding success was the involvement of Chief Architect Thilina Herath. Thilina has a tendency to use his engineering expertise to over deliver on projects, making him a favourite with clients. He tells us: “Leap in! was a project that gave Mitra the opportunity to build a service that helped disabled people access the money and services they were entitled to. We took a complex, multi-layered, manual process that was prone to failure and delivered a streamlined, simple, resilient app that is widely used by the disabled community in Australia. I feel we really made a difference.”
Nadini Sahabandu shares the passion for the Leap in! project: “Leap in, being my first engagement on joining Mitra in 2017, has made so much impact on my life. It’s a unique approach to enriching the lives of people with disabilities, helping them achieve their life goals! I‘m proud to have had the chance to work with such a passionate team from both Leap in and Mitra, who truly made a difference. Leap in remains one of my favourite case studies to quote, simply because of the difference they make and the passion of the team to uplift lives.”
Another example is Kraydel. Based in Northern Ireland they took on the challenge of building an innovative new assisted living service that enables elderly people to live independently in their own homes. Paul Moorhead, CTO of Kraydel says : “The team at Mitra Innovation have provided us with the ability to launch our exciting new service and product onto the market and grow at an accelerated rate.”
The passion for helping new businesses achieve their potential saw the launch of Mitra Ventures in 2019. Ashok explains: “Mitra Ventures is like a private equity firm that provides acceleration services to start-ups. We select the best ideas from the entrepreneurs who approach us and incubate them, providing everything they need to become a successful business.” Bivendra Narangoda, Chief Operating Officer at Mitra Ventures says: “Success of a new product or a venture depends on the ability to incubate and take it to market. A good strategy, strong execution and the right people are key to this success”.
Mitra Ventures has seen huge success incubating new entrepreneurs, with Ortom8, a cloud based, adaptive and dynamic Workload Automation platform delivering enterprise-scale, on-demand and fully flexible workload management; experienz, an ESG monitoring and reporting tool; LowCodify and Foodie to name a few. There’s more information on all of these on our website.
A global pandemic wasn’t in our thoughts in 2012, but Mitra responded by helping communities navigate difficult times.
Foodie was a wonderful example of strategic thinking and cooperation. Ashok Suppiah explains: “As an innovator, I strive to see the gap, the place where technology can be developed to fill a need. By ordering online from local businesses and favourite meals from restaurants, in an easy, seamless way, some sense of normalcy can be returned to the individual, while throwing small vendors a lifeline.” When working with banks to allow seamless funding failed, creativity lent a hand: “We approached YouCAB, one of the largest taxi services in Sri Lanka. Their passenger services had dried up during lockdown and they were looking for new revenue streams. We also approached Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara for investment capital. They saw the project as an opportunity to help small vendors and joined us as equity partners. We chose to make Foodie a non-profit app in Sri Lanka from a strong sense of social responsibility, that desire to give something back that launched the project.”
Mitra has also forged strong partnerships over the last 10 years, with AWS, R3 Corda, Azure and especially with Creatio and WSO2. Looking at our long list of case studies you will see many involve our low-code or integration services. These partnerships are not only about providing resilient, industry tried and tested platforms and methodologies to our clients, but also about trust. Trusting the products themselves to deliver, but also trusting the respective teams to support Mitra and, in turn, our growing clientbase.
Such is the success of our partnership with Creatio, in 2021 we launched LowCodify, created to partner the power of the Creatio low code platform with Mitra’s digital transformation expertise. LowCodify accelerates innovation and software development for clients, helping them create new solutions quickly and cost effectively. Alex Donchuk, Global Partner Manager at Creatio says: “With a strategic alliance of Mitra innovation and Creatio more businesses worldwide will have an opportunity to benefit from the top-notch intelligent tools designed to streamline, orchestrate and accelerate key business processes. Mitra Innovation is our reliable partner when it comes to the delivery of low code/no code requests from our existing and potential customers. We’re excited and thrilled to build this partnership and evolve it to the next level.”
Our people make the difference…
But none of this would be possible without the people of Mitra, the employees that work so hard to make the vision of the three founders a reality. We can’t name them all, but we hear from a few who have been with us from the beginning.
When asked what Mitra means to her, Thanuja Wijewardena, Software Quality Assurance Lead in Digital Services and one of our longest serving employees said:
“Mitra means my second family. Mitra has been there with me for all my ups and downs as a family. Whenever I faced a problem, or any happy milestone in my life, Mitra was there either to support me or share the happiness of my achievement. Especially the three founders who were the greatest inspiration for me.”
Thilanka Godakumbura, an Associate Technical Lead in Engineering feels similarly.
“I have been with Mitra for 6 years and this was my first job after university. There is a professional relationship between top to lower-level employees so we feel like a family. Mitra taught me, even though every individual has their own talents and strengths, without teamwork we cannot achieve our goals. Mitra is one of the best companies to work for as a woman with such a flexible work life balance. I’d like to wish Mitra all the best for their 10th Anniversary.”
Another of our long standing and talented employees is Kalana Wijethunga, a Software Architect in the Engineering Department. He tells us:
“I joined Mitra as a Senior Software Engineer, a little over 7 years ago. Coming from one of the largest IT corporations in the country, Mitra was a breath of fresh air. Small team with more of a ‘family-like’ culture. After all, it was just 8-9 people sitting around one large table! (the table was borrowed from Dammika’s Mom’s house.)
It has been an interesting journey from that moment onwards. I can still remember the excitement and energy back then. We celebrated even the smallest wins! For me, the journey meant getting exposed to a lot of opportunities that shaped my career. I had the chance to bear responsibilities and face challenges at such an early stage in my career. Over the years, Mitra provided the environment for me to build not only my technical knowledge but my prowess as an IT professional. I always look back at the past 7 years with fondness. Friendships were built, and memories were made.”
Nath Wijayagunasekara, Associate Team Lead in Managed Services was also one of the earliest to join Mitra. “I joined the Mitra team way back in 2015 when it was just under 20 employees, starting managed services operations with just 5 members. I then worked in internal IT operations but transitioned back to the managed services team in 2020 with a global pandemic enforcing a new way of remote working. Now in 2022 Mitra Managed Services boasts 25+ L2 and 10+ L3 team members supporting a wide variety of clients on many different technologies. During the past 6 years at Mitra I have seen the company grow from small to a large scale business, people have come and gone, been through ups and downs but the core value of putting people first and taking good care of them has remained. The founders have always been down to earth, encouraging the employees to be the best of themselves, to achieve higher goals and helping them out when in need. As Mitra celebrates 10 years I wish Mitra and everyone involved the best things to come in the next 10 years!”
Bivendra Narangoda is Chief Operating Officer at Mitra Ventures. Biv is one of the longest serving leaders at Mitra who is now shaping the company’s future success. He remembers:
“I was the 7th person to join the team at Mitra in 2015 and it was definitely a humble beginning. After I joined the organisation, Mitra showcased exponential growth, doubling the revenue and headcount in consecutive years. It brings pleasure to me to see how Mitra has grown from a start-up to a leading software provider with a global footprint. In that journey there was never a dull day, and we, as a team, challenged ourselves to achieve the best versions of ourselves at work.”
Providing the right environment, training opportunities and industry exposure to its employees is also something Mitra excels at. Kithsiri Ekanayake, Senior UX Design Lead in Marketing says that although it was Dammika who interviewed him and gave him the opportunity to work for Mitra as the 4th employee in the company, it was reporting to Ashok that gave him the freedom to be creative and develop his skills while doing the job he loves:
“Ashok encourages you to take your ideas further and supports you through the challenges. I love using UX to solve customers problems and have had the training, industry exposure and opportunities to do just that.”
Roshan Menaka, Senior Network Solutions Lead, IT OPS remembers long hours and resolving a particularly difficult compliance issue: “Though Mitra is my second home now, there was a time when it was almost my home! We used to come to the office early in the morning sometimes even before 4:00 AM and we worked at the office until midnight. There was a compliance requirement for departments, teams and projects to be segregated into different network segments. Only very limited vendors had these kinds of solutions and they were very expensive. The challenge was to deliver an enterprise grade solution within limited budget and resources. My solution matched the requirements, using available resources and with no subscription fee. I never feel tired or bored while working at Mitra. Every day is a new day with new challenges and a lot of new hopes. With the fullest support of the founders and management, I enjoy almost every moment while working at Mitra.”
When asked why he chose to work at Mitra, new recruit Shanaka Mendis, Practice Head for Integration said this: “The main reason I chose Mitra was the challenging role that they offered me, to take over the Integration Practice within the company. The second reason was that I wanted some guidance and mentoring in my career to take it to the next level. I felt Mitra was the perfect place to learn and grow and hopefully contribute.”
And when asked how Mitra had helped her develop her career Nadini Sahabandu, winner of the TechWomen100 Global Award for Achievement 2021, said:
“At Mitra there are a lot of opportunities, and I was given responsibility from day one and trusted to run with new initiatives. I have had roles in many different areas of the business so have had the opportunity to learn how each job is done. What I have learnt informs each role, increasing my knowledge and confidence to be able to tackle whatever comes next.”
Strong leadership is something Mitra has always considered vital for the growth and prosperity of the business and part of that is having the vision to help your clients on their journey. Chinthi Weerasinghe, Chief Executive Officer at Mitra Digital says: “A lot of digital transformation fails because it’s not just about transforming your experience for customers. It’s very much about transforming oneself, your organisation. If you think of digital transformation as an opportunity to overhaul your process, talent, operations and through that overhaul your relationship with customers, you’re bound to think of this in the right way.”
Our future stars…
While the last 10 years was about the people who built Mitra, there is always an eye to the future and finding and nurturing the right talent going forward is something all three founders see as vital to the success of the business. A strong investment in education and training from an early stage helps to build careers, confidence and brighter futures.
With Mitra strategically located in Moratuwa, close to one of Sri Lanka’s best universities, we have developed an Intern programme for tech and business undergraduates, often supporting them with fees where necessary. But we didn’t stop there. Dammika Ganegama joined forces with Sarvodaya Development Finance’s CEO Mr Nilantha Jayanetti to bring high quality technology exposure to young adults in his hometown of Kethsirigama, in rural Sri Lanka. Mitra provided a source of highly skilled and dedicated volunteers to run the life-changing Mitra Inspire project, and those who passed the course were given a 6 month paid internship at Mitra.
Rusiru Samarasinghe, the Inspire Program Lead, designed and developed the training course with the support of Mitra’s expert volunteers. Rusiru said: “What was so overwhelming was the enthusiasm and commitment of the students. They were really engaged and completed all their assignments on time. I really felt we were making a difference to their lives. I am also so proud of the commitment and dedication of the amazing Mitra and SDF volunteers.”
Dammika Ganegama: “Amidst a surging global ICT demand, Sri Lanka has an excellent opportunity to create ICT knowledge workers with higher salaries, uplifting the lifestyles of our youth, while driving innovation and positive social change. Given the wide reach and spread of SDF’s rural village network and their community-led ongoing social impact programs, Mitra found it most impactful to join hands with Sarvodaya Development Finance to drive this unique program.”
And when you hire new recruits, nurturing that talent is crucial. Ashok says: “We hire mostly through our recruitment process and invest a lot of time educating, mentoring and coaching our employees. I am a strong believer of teach-by-example, guiding new recruits and helping them where they need support.”
With Environmental, Social Governance (ESG) and themes of corporate responsibility emerging in the last 10 years, it’s reassuring to know Mitra has always been well ahead of the curve. As Fraser Bell explains: “I’ve always liked how Mitra has supported employees efforts to give back over the years whether it be vaccination programs for stray dogs, championed by our own Anuradha Prasanna;
a UK coast to coast bike ride for Lizzie’s fund in aid of the Brain Tumour Charity, which Derek Bell took part in;
or more recently the Pearl Protectors beach cleanup after the XPress Pearl disaster where Sherine Bandara helped organise Mitra volunteers.
Mitra has always been active where it can and keen to support employees in efforts they care about. Now Mitra has started a full outreach program with Sarvodaya Development Finance to train young adults in rural Sri Lanka, as well as continuing to participate in career fairs at Universities and hosting hackathons (EvolutionAI).”
Time to celebrate…
The Mitra family has grown to become a global enterprise, with 300 staff in 8 locations worldwide. It has done this by helping to build successful tech start-ups and nurturing new entrepreneurs, providing the right ecosystem for innovative solutions and products. It has done this by forging strong partnerships and client relationships. It has done this by finding, training, mentoring and challenging employees, old and new. And it has done this by caring about our wellbeing, our environment, our prosperity and our future.
Listening to our clients, our partners, our employees and the market is one of our biggest strengths, but it is in supporting the next generation of technology professionals and entrepreneurs and championing innovation where we make the biggest difference.
As a celebration of our 10 years, we will be organising a series of events, so look out for more details. We’d also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who has worked towards making Mitra Innovation a success, a very Happy 10th Anniversary!