As Mitra Innovation grows as a business, its employee base in Sri Lanka, and around the world, grows to meet the demand of new, challenging, global projects. We work hard to attract top talent and one of our brightest new stars is Shanaka Mendis, our new Practice Head for Integration. It’s impossible not to be enthused by Shanaka’s positivity for his role and his specialism and we thought we’d share with you the energy and expertise he brings to Mitra.
An MBA graduate from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura at PIM and with a Bachelor’s degree focusing on International Business & Management and Economics, Shanaka most recently worked at WSO2, so he brings valuable insight and experience to his role at Mitra.
1.Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into tech.
Growing up my interests firmly lay with sport, especially cricket and basketball, and my role models were all pro-athletes. After graduating from university, I started work as a door to door salesman in the US. This job launched my career in sales. Although extremely challenging for a shy youngster, I found the experience of selling to complete strangers taught me a lot about people and how to sell effectively. I did the job for two and a half years before returning to Sri Lanka
I got into tech by accident. My first job back in Sri Lanka was as an account manager at WSO2 for the US sales team.
I’ve just joined Mitra as Practice Head for Integration. I have continued my love of sport and am a basketball player and a scuba diver. I love travelling, and I have two cats.
2.Why did you choose WSO2?
At that time they were looking to expand their US sales team and I had lived and worked there for four years so I thought I’d be a good fit, as a Sri Lankan who had experience in that market. Also at that time, WSO2 was an established brand so I felt fortunate to get a job at such a good company.
3.Please tell us more about the WSO2 Platform?
WSO2 is an Open Source middleware company that mainly deals with integration, API management and identity access management. They’ve also built a couple of solutions using their core products, WSO2 Open Banking and WSO2 Open Health Care. Recently WSO2 has been working on cloud native, low-code integration and identity access management platforms called Asgardeo and Choreo, very exciting platforms which will revolutionise the developer experience.
4.What was your impression of Mitra before you joined?
I didn’t know a lot about Mitra! I knew they were a long standing WSO2 partner, with involvement in some key strategic projects, Travis Perkins and Kenya Telecom, however I’d never had the chance to work with them directly.
5.So why did you choose Mitra?
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.
6.Tell us more about your role and what you are hoping to achieve at Mitra?
As the Practice Head my main responsibility is to grow the practice in terms of revenue, head count, competencies and projects. The Integration team works with multiple customers around the globe, helping streamline the function of their legacy and new systems and services. It is the fastest growing department in Mitra and we’re looking to double the number of team members over the next 12 months, so it’s a very exciting time to be involved. That level of growth brings its own challenges, that I am very much looking forward to.
7.What projects are you currently working on?
We’re working with a number of clients globally right now, enterprise clients such as banks, telcos and internet providers, and health care providers too. Our specialisation has been in the BFSI sector where we don’t only work with established retail banks, but FinTechs, neo banks, financial institutions and central banks. We are mostly running integration projects, integrating multiple enterprise applications, as well as API management projects, involving complete end to end API lifecycle management.
8.How was joining a new company and meeting colleagues affected by Covid-19?
It’s challenging, but I think the new normal is here to stay, at least for the IT industry. We all have to work out how to do our jobs more effectively and efficiently in the new setting. This is particularly difficult when you are in sales, when you don’t get to meet your customers and have that face to face interaction, but as they say, the show must always go on!
9.What’s the best thing about working at Mitra?
I think the best thing about working at Mitra is the people. The company has a great culture and the people are the ones who are driving it. We have a lot of people coming from diverse backgrounds working in multiple technologies trying to solve very interesting business and technical problems. I think when you create an environment like that, based on collaboration and innovation, it automatically makes Mitra a great place to work.
10.What advice would you give to anyone thinking of applying to Mitra?
I think it’s a great opportunity for young people who want to grow and be challenged in their career, not only as a person but to be able to work with multiple technologies, with multiple third parties and to gain international client exposure. Mitra is a great place for women to forge their careers too. 30% of our leadership team are women, as is our CEO. One of my colleagues, Nadini Sahabandu recently won an award as one of the top 100 women in Tech. So, if you have a few years experience or are just graduating from University, this is a great place to start or grow your career.