CodeGen is a homegrown Sri Lankan technology company set on building the future through pioneering research and innovation. As one of the biggest names enhancing several verticals such as travel, automotive, agriculture, energy, and education with its cutting-edge products, the success of CodeGen lies within the talent pool of people that have grown with the company. Accordingly, names like TravelBox, VEGA Innovations, ChargeNET, and AiGrow fall under the umbrella of CodeGen and are collectively uplifting the local IT industry and its home nation. Walking through the journey of CodeGen and how it differs from the rest, Dasun Athukorale, Senior VP -Strategy, and Dhammika Kariyawasam, Senior VP of Engineering, shared a behind-the-curtain experience of life at CodeGen.
From startup to industry leader: The rise of CodeGen
The core business of CodeGen began in Sri Lanka over 22 years ago and has since grown from a team to 2 to 700 with offices in the UK, US, Dubai, and India, and is the first Sri Lankan offshore company to set up an office in the Port City. During this period, the company’s core values of Excellence in Service, Customer Focus, and Continuous Improvement have remained unchanged. “I believe this is one of the reasons CodeGen has stood out in the industry over the years and built a global clientele that utilizes our products,” shares Dasun.
With innovation at the core of its culture, CodeGen values the development of its IP above all else. “As a company with a diversified portfolio such as ours, we are always looking to enhance our products by absorbing new technologies to provide end-to-end business solutions to our customers,” Dhammika conveys. Accordingly, he adds that despite having a global footprint, the CodeGen team in Sri Lanka handles the turnkey development of its products from initial contact to final delivery and handover.
How TravelBox by CodeGen transformed the travel industry
Reflecting on the company’s earliest days, Dasun reminisces that much of the travel industry at the time mainly utilized legacy systems, and organizations were wary about rocking the boat. Building on this gap, developed the initial version of its flagship platform, TravelBox – an intelligent reservation, retailing, and fulfilment platform. Today, it is utilized by world-leading travel and tourism brands to deliver brilliant and differentiated customer experiences through digital transformation.
“TravelBox has evolved considerably since its inception. It’s now a powerful platform capable of supporting the most complex business structures and demanding workflows through B2C / B2B channels. Further, the system was designed to scale up to achieve the business objectives of many travel organizations, including Tour Operators, Airlines, Cruise Companies, DMC, and Resorts & Attractions,” Dhammika expresses. CodeGen’s continuous commitment to innovation has led it to become an industry leader at the heart and soul of travel companies across the globe.
The culture of collaborative innovation within CodeGen
According to Dhammika, the culture at CodeGen in its early days was a simple extension of university life. The team had a strong commitment to building personal relationships with each other as they worked together to create transformative digital solutions. “Over time, the culture certainly evolved as we worked on different products and with larger international clients,” he shares.
Yet, the core tenets of CodeGen’s culture – building personal relationships and helping people grow remained intact. Even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, the company undertook several initiatives to keep people connected and upskilling. Together with this, it was pivotal that research and innovation remain within the DNA of CodeGen. Hence, the company has instilled several processes that ignite the spark for new ideas as part of its culture.
Living the CodeGen ethos of research and innovation
Comprising some top university graduates, the R&D Division of CodeGen dedicates itself to developing new products and using the latest technology to complement its existing products. The company is also one of the top 10 in Sri Lanka to have invested in its R&D, working on several projects with cutting-edge technologies such as natural language processing, machine learning, and more in several domains. This team is the living embodiment of CodeGen’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of innovation.
In addition, the company also conducts regular competitions and a series of technology-focused brainstorming sessions and workshops to encourage members of other departments to think out of the box. “If anyone comes up with a bright idea, it’s discussed and evaluated by the R&D team alongside stakeholders from other divisions. Each idea is evaluated based on its value addition, which could be either a commercial or product/process improvement,” states Dhammika. These efforts have helped CodeGen evolve from a software company to areas of electronics, mechanical, mechatronics, and AI.
Growth through continuous learning
CodeGen has also developed its own Continuous People Development Platform – CodeGen Academy, to upscale talent and familiarize new technologies. The Academy is focused on different material and helps to onboard recruits by bridging the gap between academia and industry while also being open to everyone at CodeGen to grow their careers. “We feel that our primary objective should be the growth of our people. When our people grow, our company grows,” Dasun expresses. Beyond this, the company offers financial support for those signing up for upskilling courses.
Moreover, CodeGen has built strong relationships with several academic bodies to help open up opportunities for the youth to enter the IT industry. The company has a mix of initiatives under its Techrookie program and Qbits Labs. The former offers scholarships to promising school leavers so they can study while also working part-time and gaining invaluable industry experience. On the other hand, the Qbits Labs offers assistance with PhD programs at several local universities. CodeGen aims to establish such a presence in all higher education institutes in the country within the foreseeable future.
Another notable initiative by CodGen under the umbrella of continuous learning and giving back to society is the TekXila Academy. The initiative is a career boost program offering real-world experiences for students to explore, design, and discover practical solutions beyond theoretical projects. Its purpose is to help students, undergraduates, and professionals improve their skills and prepare them for the future job market, where companies won’t be focusing on titles but rather on skills that reflect a person’s passion and willingness to solve problems quickly.
Life and Well-being at CodeGen to help establish a work-life balance
Today, CodeGen has spared no expense in ensuring its employees enjoy an inclusive work environment where they can work to their full potential. A shuttle service has been organized for those coming to its offices to arrive and leave the office at routine times. On top of this, CodeGen also has a dedicated accommodation facility in Rajagiriya for its team members traveling to and from Colombo who are engaged in time-critical projects. The facility is complete with a laundry service, meals, and security to ensure they have peace of mind.
Additionally, CodeGen offers gym memberships to its teams and has an onsite CurryMunch cafeteria with professional chefs and a modern cafeteria at its Rajaigirya accommodation facility. The company also uses an in-house platform to monitor projects’ performance and working hours to ensure its team members are not overworked or falling behind. “As a global service provider, some of our members also work the night shift to be available for 24/7 support. To them, we give the next day off,” shares Dasun.
“The working environment at CodeGen has always been very relaxed from day one, such that even the CEO takes time to maintain a good relationship with everyone at the company, right down to the interns,” Dhammika highlights. Company events are organized every 3 to 4 weeks, while day-outs and team-building events are also quite frequent. The office premises have an in-house band and entertainment lobby for employees to unwind when they need a break. CodeGen also encourages its members to participate in sports by sponsoring teams to participate in mercantile events throughout the calendar year.
The future of CodeGen welcomes new talent
Looking to expand the reach of its products as it increases its presence in the Middle East, Europe, North America, and Asia, CodeGen plans to upgrade its products with cutting-edge technologies like Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. “In doing so, we will ensure the continued evolution of our products to help our customers meet their business objectives while setting the standard for the industry and the country,” Dasun shares. In addition, he states that the company is looking to break new verticals, such as consultancy and services, which would drive the company to new heights