Introducing Uresh Duminduwardena, the Vice President – Engineering, Platforms & Products: Digital Core #atthelab and a technology leader with over 19 years of experience. He is an industry professional and a researcher, a visiting lecturer, and the author of multiple IEEE publications and journals.
Upon his graduation from the University of Colombo, Uresh spent two years at Millennium IT before leaving for Japan to follow Masters at the University of Aizu researching Human Computer Interface (HCI).
Uresh joined Dialog Axiata back in 2005 and his passion for software engineering and delivery led to him working with various business domains/owners and engineers on many telco customer focused projects. Uresh’s communication and leadership skills did not go unnoticed resulting in Uresh to being tapped to join Axiata Digital Labs in 2019 and lead the Digital Core business.
We sat down with Uresh to hear more about the trajectory of his career and find out what the future holds for ADL.
Q: What challenges have you faced in your career?
A: I once undertook a critical overseas project almost 9 years ago which was the first time our team at Dialog functioned as a vendor which was an interesting transition for us. The project tested my management, leadership and even my team’s adaptation skills on being able to deliver on time while working with global and multi-cultural technical teams. I even spent 10 days at with the client, focusing purely on their unique requirement of documentation processes which was a challenging task to achieve. This project helped my team to learn how to operate successfully in a global market and this experience was vital in my transition to ADL as it helped me guide teams to build stronger relationships with customers.
At ADL, no project is the same. Every project we take on has its own challenges, at least from an engineering point of view. However, learning to build a sustainable company in its own right is a new experience for me. It was a lot of jumping in first and learning how to swim later. There has been a cultural transformation and that’s a good thing as we’ve had a hand in setting up a new culture for the company. However, the unexpected Covid-19 global crisis made the anticipated cultural transformation really challenging but I’m confident that ADL will succeed in this aspect as well.
Q: Which project are you most proud of #atthelab and why?
A: Every project I’ve led and worked on makes me proud for joining Axiata Digital Labs. However, what I think I’m most proud of is the approach taken towards each project by the teams. The engineering team worked on a new generation transformation of engineering and delivery practices at ADL such as aligning to microservices, cloud, agile, and CMMI standards. A lot of our customers’ revenue generation businesses depended on legacy systems which did not hold up to the newest technology stack. We worked together to realize which legacy systems would be the easiest and fastest to transform creating faster business benefits. This paved the way to overhaul the legacy systems, set up agile practices and transition to the cloud which in turn helped us relieve our customers of legacy licenses and bring down their cost, and more importantly, be ready for the future.
We have also set up many microservices networks and helped our customers become more cloud native while being able to dynamically scale with ever changing business demands and ensured a seamless transition for the customer.
Q: Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will change the way we work in the future and if so, how?
A: Yes of course! This global pandemic has transformed the way a lot of people and businesses operate. I believe there will be a permanent change moving forward. Businesses have been discussing suitable “work from home” systems, but most were never motivated to pursue it further. As a leader in digital solutions in the IT sector, we should have no issue being able to continue delivering innovative solutions that help other businesses follow suit. When we realized we had to work from at the start of the pandemic, we quickly worked up a model which anticipated a significant reduction in staff productivity. But from the first week, we were pleasantly surprised. I didn’t even see that much of a reduction, in fact, my team seems more efficient than they were even in office in some cases.
However, we cannot ignore the change in culture. While things are working with this strategy, I think it has developed a new range of challenges from an HR and personal viewpoint and we need to ensure that we balance working from home with time at the office to make sure we have a cohesive team. Overall, it has been a surprise to me to see how well my engineers have taken to this.
Q: As the VP of Engineering, Products and Platforms what do you hope to see ADL accomplish in the next 5 years?
A: I want ADL to build a work culture that is focused on discipline which can weather all the highs and lows of the industry. Being professional and disciplined and combining that with the right culture. Projects will come and go and there will always be new software out there, but the people, culture and disciple will always endure. I see a lot of larger companies struggle when they get too big because they don’t focus on those three things.
Disciplined engineering, disciplined delivery and the right culture is what creates and will create a unique asset inside ADL.
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