For over 215 years, Wiley has been helping people and organizations develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed. As a global leader in research and education, Wiley believes that everyone can change the world. As such, the company is always looking towards the future to bridge the higher education gap by delivering content solutions in new and innovative ways that enrich the learning experience. To that end, the company has several technology centers spread across the globe, one of the largest of which is in Sri Lanka. In conversations with Arteculate Asia, the General Manager of Wiley Sri Lanka, Bimal Gunapala, shared how this team of technology professionals is driving Wiley’s global vision of unlocking human potential.
Inside Wiley Sri Lanka: One of Wiley’s largest technology centers
Today, Wiley has a team that’s 500-strong in Sri Lanka that works in product engineering and technology operations. They are in charge of building and maintaining the company’s technology platforms, which power the education and research ecosystems. These platforms enable universities, businesses, and individuals to move between education and employment and achieve their ambitions while enabling researchers to publish their work in scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly journals, books, and other digital platforms.
Those involved in product engineering work alongside Wiley’s product owners to transform innovative ideas into products and develop a roadmap for the continuous improvement of existing products. “Sri Lanka’s Technology Center assumes engineering ownership of certain products and platforms. We also take collective ownership of others where there are distributed teams spread across the rest of Wiley locations,” explained Bimal.
Those involved in technology operations teams are charged with the continuous smooth operation of Wiley’s platforms. They act as first responders to any issue and work to remedy them while also proactively ensuring such issues never occur in the first place. Technology operations often cover hundreds of products and platforms, ensuring customers have support around the clock.
Wiley’s belief in the strength of Sri Lankan tech talent
Wiley began operations in Sri Lanka in 2019 and, during its first year, reached over 200 employees. However, the global leader in learning had already, as far back as 2018, set its sights on the island nation for its newest technology center. Reflecting, Bimal shares, “Sri Lankan technologists are known for their passion for learning, self-improvement, high-quality deliveries, and great work ethic. We live and breathe the craft. It’s a great fit for Wiley.”
Since then, the company Sri Lanka has grown rapidly, but it hasn’t been a journey without challenges. In the short span of less than four years, the team weathered several challenges ranging from constitutional crises to Easter Sunday attacks to the pandemic to the current economic crisis. Yet, the company not only survives but thrives over these crises owing to its rich culture centered around trust, the global backing needed to face such challenges, and a long-term vision focused on the future.
Inside Wiley’s employee-first culture
Wiley always prioritizes the well-being of its employees. The company has built a culture where its employees are valued and given opportunities to grow. The company’s core commitments to colleagues are to provide Purpose, Growth, Community and Care. Alongside professional development, it has launched several initiatives to ensure employees are cared for in times of need. Importantly, as a global organization, Wiley offers unparalleled international exposure. “Working at a global company that embraces diversity always gives you more exposure. You get to experience different cultures, and best practices and meet a vast pool of people with different skills and experiences. This has become a mutual learning experience for all at Wiley,” stated Bimal.
Work-life balance + Vertical and diagonal career paths
Once joining, employees are given many learning opportunities to upskill themselves, including through both Wiley-owned and third-party learning platforms. Technology professionals often reach a point in their careers where they believe they must now choose between continuing to focus on technology and branching off to leadership positions. This phenomenon isn’t the case with Wiley. Engineers can continue their technical practices while moving into leadership positions if they want to. “Here we have a way of not only vertically progressing into career paths but also moving across career paths either horizontally or diagonally. With the continuous growth momentum, we are able to keep offering bigger and better career opportunities to not just external candidates but also to our internal colleagues,” explains Bimal.
‘‘Alongside opportunities for employees to craft their careers as they wish, Wiley has several initiatives to help build a work-life balance. One example is how employees are free of meetings for the latter part of every Friday. During this time, they’re encouraged to focus on themselves to advance their skills. For certain months of the year, we transform this to what we call ‘Happy Fridays’, allowing our colleagues to best use this time as they see fit, including focusing on their personal development or spending quality time with their families – it’s an investment in our colleagues’ personal well-being.’’
Caring for employees in uncertain times
Wiley also has various online and in-person physical and psychological well-being activities, including access to different well-being apps and platforms for groups and individuals. These activities and offerings are available both regionally and in Sri Lanka. The company also offers generous maternity and paternity leave for colleagues whenever a child is born or adopted into their families.
More recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company quickly shifted to remote working. Today, the practice has continued with a hybrid approach giving employees the choice of either working from home or at the office. At the height of the pandemic, the company supplied oxygen concentrators free of charge to any colleague, their family members, or anyone living with them when there was a critical shortage in medical facilities in certain regions. This helped our Sri Lankan colleagues immensely. Even now, as Sri Lanka faces its worst economic crisis in decades, THe company is supporting colleagues with financial and non-financial support especially focusing on the long-term well-being of colleagues.
The future of Wiley in Sri Lanka
Wiley’s global mission is to unlock human potential. As one of its largest technology centers, the team in Sri Lanka plays a critical role in achieving this goal by continuously improving Wiley’s products, platforms, and customer experience. Looking towards the future, Bimal believes that Wiley Sri Lanka will grow from strength to strength in its operation on this island nation.