AnnouncementsLife at CalceyNews

Calcey Among Top 10 IT/ITeS Best Workplaces™ in Sri Lanka Again

Colombo – 26 May 2022

Calcey Technologies has been yet again recognised as one of the 10 Best IT/ITeS Workplaces in the country by Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka. The award is based on extensive ratings provided by a company’s employees in an anonymous survey conducted by Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka during the study 2021 – 2022.

The Great Place to Work® institute assesses all awardees using the Great Place to Work® Framework, a proprietary model. According to the 2021-2022 Study, the key drivers of the employee perception in the IT/ITeS Industry are Manager Reliability, Management Role Modeling, Mental Health, Good Facilities, Managers Keep Promises, and Egalitarian Treatment.

“Receiving this award, particularly for the second consecutive year, is an immensely satisfying achievement as it proves that the Calcey Way—the set of guiding principles behind Calcey, are functioning the way they should. As an exporter of knowledge-related services, our people are our most important asset and this award will definitely inspire us to raise the bar when it comes to what a great workplace can be,” said Mangala Karunaratne, founder and CEO of Calcey.

Calcey Technologies is a Gartner recognised technology consulting and software product engineering services provider based in the United States and Sri Lanka. For more information visit www.calcey.com

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and recognition programs, including Great Place to Work-CertifiedTM, Best Workplaces™ lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. Follow Great Place to Work online at www.greatplacetowork.com or www.greatplacetowork.lk

Life at CalceyOpinion

Why did we peg salaries to the dollar?

A few weeks ago, we gave our people the opportunity to have their salaries pegged to the US dollar. It turned more than a few heads, and lots of people asked us why we did so.

I also saw a fair share of criticism from some people. I don’t know why, so my knee-jerk reaction would have been to respond with something like this:

However, now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, I slept over it, and decided to write this blog post instead.

Why did we peg salaries to the dollar? Simply because it was the right thing to do.

“To avoid criticism do nothing, say nothing, be nothing” – Elbert Hubbard

Sri Lanka is home to our development center. The country’s economy is going through a really rough patch at the moment. And with inflation hitting all time highs even in the US, I don’t need to tell you how a frontier market like Sri Lanka is doing.

Raghuram Rajan, (Economist, Professor at Chicago Booth, and one time RBI Governor) once said that inflation is a tax which affects the poor the worst. He’s right. Inflation reduces your disposable income while you sleep. 

As a founder, I don’t want our people to feel the heat of rising prices, just because a central banker or politician miles away is bad at his job. And companies with unhappy people don’t stay in business for too long either.

As an exporter of services, Calcey benefits from a depreciating rupee as we bill in dollars and pay in rupees. By giving our people the option to peg their salaries to the US dollar, all we’re doing is sharing the benefit we gain from a depreciating currency with our team so they may sleep easy at night. Our salary pegging scheme is entirely voluntary, and we went so far as to offer it to all current employees who originally didn’t opt-in to the pegged salary scheme. We let them opt-in even after the Sri Lankan rupee was devalued overnight. At Calcey, we absolutely love the talented rock stars who work with us.

Calcey has a flat hierarchy and a no B.S. culture. The request for inflation-protected salaries first came from our own employees, and we acted fast to respond. We take so much pride in buying fair trade products, so why shouldn’t an employer show that same sense of fairness to its people? After all, they’re the reason we’ve been in business for the last two decades.

The main reason why we opted to peg salaries is because local labor laws prohibit us from paying people in other currencies. Even if we somehow found a way, those funds will still be subject to mandatory conversion rules. By pegging salaries, people will still get all their statutory benefit payments while their incomes are protected from inflation. Win-win!

We’re proud that we’ve been able to do this at Calcey, and we will gladly shout about it from the rooftops. If all employers in Sri Lanka decide to do this, we will be overjoyed about being able to blaze a trail in our own little way. We hope all peers who follow our path apply the pre-devaluation exchange rate to calculate base salaries in the interest of fairness.

If you’re reading this, and you don’t work at Calcey (yet), I invite you to come join us. We’re hiring! If you join us before May, your base salary (for pegging purposes) will be calculated at the pre-depreciation rate of 198.50. We will also let you work on multiple awesome projects in a flexible, remote-first work culture, and much more ✌

-Mangala

Mangala Karunaratne is the founder and CEO of Calcey Technologies.

AnnouncementsLife at Calcey

We are pegging salaries to the dollar

We are officially rolling out a USD-pegged remuneration scheme for all employees. The scheme is being implemented to safeguard salaries from exchange rate-induced inflation. 

“Our employees raised concerns about the impact currency depreciation may have on domestic price levels, and we devised this scheme in response to ensure that their living standards don’t take an undue hit due to exceptional macroeconomic factors,” said Gehan Dias, General Manager of Calcey Technologies. “The scheme is entirely voluntary and operates on an opt-in basis” he emphasized.

“Our people are our most valuable asset, and we’d like to actually walk the talk when it comes to treating them so. That’s the key motivation behind implementing this policy in its present form, and is just one of many other things we do to keep Calcey a happy and great place to work” concluded Ishara Walpola, Calcey’s Director – People and Culture.

We’re hiring! View all available openings here

Life at Calcey

Remote Work: Mostly Ups with a few Downs

Working from home was not a novel concept to Calcey, but Covid-19 saw our teams having to strategize and set themselves up for long-term virtual work.  Upon feedback from employees, Calcey made the informed decision to become a remote-first company in April 2021. We reached out to a few people, some old hats and some new to Calcey, to find out how it’s been going so far. Here’s what they had to say!

The good 

The general consensus was that remote work was much preferred over working full-time from the office. For employees such as Dhanura, it allowed him to live at home instead of having to stay in Colombo. ‘I love that I can be in my hometown, with my family and still work for Calcey. I used to travel every Friday to come back to Anuradhapura and working remotely saves me all that travelling. In terms of flexibility also, Calcey is way ahead. Everyone on the team is friendly and can be contacted at any time. I get to know my teammates through little chit-chats we have while waiting for pages to load or uploads to finish’.

For new parent Hasaru, working from home allowed him to be a hands-on father to his now ten-month-old daughter. ‘My wife and I take turns with the responsibilities, depending on our schedules. Some days she watches the baby more and other days I do. It’s an amazing thing, to be able to watch your child grow up and be there for the important moments. I’m happy I get that chance’.

For Sahan, who left Calcey in 2019 and rejoined in September this year, it was an interesting change. ‘The work-life balance as well as productivity is good when you work from home. Not having to commute daily from Panadura is also a huge plus’.

Those new to Calcey too, had mostly positive things to say. ‘So far, so good’ says Avindu, who joined Calcey in February this year. ‘Having been in the industry for a while, it isn’t overly difficult to work remotely.’ Avindu also enjoys the freedom of being able to have a personalized and comfortable workspace, which affords him maximum productivity.

Adjusting was a bit smoother for long-term employees like Sasanka, an SSE who has risen up the ranks at Calcey. ‘Working from home is less distracting and I find I can focus more. It also allows flexibility – if there is something urgent at home, you can plan your work day around it. I’ve also found that people on the team are quite independent and don’t need constant supervision- everyone does their work well.’

Some bad, and the occasional ugly

The main downside of remote work for most people was the lack of human interaction. ‘Everyone used to know everyone when you were in the office’ says Sahan. ‘Now you only know people within your team. We also used to have a lot of fun at the office and joke around and would randomly go out after work. But these days meeting up takes a lot of planning’.

When asked if they felt there was a culture shift along with remote work, Hasaru, Sasanka and Sahan all agreed that there was, but that it wasn’t necessarily in a bad way. The ‘work-hard-play-hard’ motto of Calcey still persisted, just in a different way. ‘It takes new joiners a while to realize that Calcey has a chilled-out work culture. They tend to overwork at the start but then, with time, realize how to balance things’ says Sasanka.

For those who do not have a dedicated workspace, concentrating and being on video calls proved to be a tad challenging. This was remedied by Calcey supporting its employees in building their own workspaces at home. People also found that reading one another and sensing whether or not someone needed help was tougher to do virtually. Coordinating with a number of teams simultaneously now required more effort and bad connectivity, especially during adverse weather, would occasionally lend to the frustration. 

The way forward

The current hybrid arrangement of being able to work from the office or work from home is one that seems to please everyone. ‘It’s good to have the option of going to the office and I do this whenever I need to be in Colombo for anything. The resources in the office are great so work can be done fast’ says Hasaru.

Calcey’s office space at Trace Expert City, Colombo 10 is maintained at Covid-19 safety standards and allows employees to pre-book a slot for the day they would like to come in (a maximum of 20 slots are available in keeping with regulations). Teams have used this system to meet in-person after months, and bond for at least a few hours. Most found that, once this initial contact was made, working together felt easier.

‘Remote work is all about managing yourself. If you make sure you have a routine, work to a schedule and do things the right way, then it’s easy’. These words of wisdom from Sasanka certainly hold true. Calcey prides itself on well-managed teamwork, while placing the utmost trust in our employees to do nothing short of their best. Adaptability is part of the ‘Calcey Way’ and we are confident that we can make the best of any situation that comes our way in the future.

Photo by Dessidre Fleming on Unsplash 

AnnouncementsLife at CalceyNews

Calcey Among Best Workplaces for Millennials in Sri Lanka

We’re proud to announce that Calcey has been recognised as one of the best workplaces for Millennials by Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka. We won this accolade based on extensive ratings provided by our employees in an anonymous survey conducted by Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka during 2020 – 2021.

“As a millennial myself, I always try to look beyond the pay slip and venture more into what this company can offer, whether this culture will embrace me like one of their own, whether it has a clear purpose that we can be proud of, and whether the company invests in the growth of its employees. And Calcey easily ticks all these boxes. We have a vibrant culture. Everyone is very helpful, and that’s why I love Calcey as a millennial”, said Chomal Miguntenne, an Associate Tech Lead at Calcey.

“It is indeed an honour to be recognised as one of the best workplaces in the country for a cohort of employees who are now entering their prime years as professionals. As employers, we have a responsibility to invest in them, as they are going to be the drivers of our future growth” said Mangala Karunaratne, founder and CEO of Calcey.

Commenting on the award, Gehan Dias, our General Manager said “The millennial generation of employees are different from those before them in that they are driven to harness their talents to the maximum, and possess a strong sense of ethics. They demand more of themselves and their employers, which motivates both parties to aim to continuously raise the bar for excellence”.

Calcey Technologies is a Gartner recognised technology consulting and software product engineering services provider based in the United States and Sri Lanka. For more information visit www.calcey.com

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and recognition programs, including Great Place to Work-CertifiedTM, Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. 

AnnouncementsInterviewsLife at Calcey

#WhatsUpCalcey – Our new recruitment experience for experienced developers

Look, we are hiring. And we’ve got lots of openings.

But we know that switching employers is not easy. There is a lot you may not know about a new company. Who will I work with? What is life like at this company?, and so on. These are all valid questions and you have every right to know the answers to them. 

The traditional interview process can make it harder to coax the information you need out of an interviewer. That is why we decided to switch things up a little.

#WhatsUpCalcey is a brand new recruitment initiative from us that is aimed at giving experienced developers the chance to understand the Calcey Way by talking to our own senior managers whom you will work with side by side on a daily basis. Moreover, you will be able to do so at your own convenience!

Here’s how #WhatsUpCalcey works:

  1. Visit www.calcey.com/WhatsUp
  2. Answer the two questions on the page
  3. If your profile fits our immediate requirements, you will be able to schedule a call with one of our senior managers immediately. On this call, you will be able to talk to them and ask any relevant question, no strings attached. It’s an exploratory chat after all.
  4. If you come away impressed with Calcey, our no B.S approach to work, and our remote-first operating model, you can let us know if you’d like to join us. We will then fast track your interview and take care of the rest.

What’re you waiting for? Go check out #WhatsUpCalcey now!

AnnouncementsLife at Calcey

Placed among the best

We are delighted to be recognised as one of the 10 Best Small & Medium IT/ITES Workplaces in the country by Great Place to Work® Sri Lanka. Companies that make it onto the list are Great Place to Work – Certified and are confirmed to have performed better than peers in the same sector.

The Great Place to Work For All model was used to select the 10 Best Workplaces and in addition to the overall results, employee perception pertaining to the areas of Hiring and Fit, Collaboration, Work Life Balance, and Growth and Development were prioritised to arrive at the final ten awardees.

“For nearly two decades, we have worked hard to foster a culture where passion is welcomed and talent can thrive. We are delighted to see those efforts come to fruition by way of our inclusion in this list. Most importantly, we are just getting started. In time, we hope we can go on to become one of Sri Lanka’s very best workplaces” said Mangala Karunaratne, founder and CEO of Calcey.

Commenting on the award, Gehan Dias, General Manager of Calcey said “Building a company that is a true meritocracy has been one of our guiding principles since day one. It is what has helped us build a high trust, high performance culture where excellence is the norm and not the exception. However, all credit should go to the entire team at Calcey who always strive to do what is right and equitable regardless of seniority or title. It has helped us get to where we are today, and I’m sure will continue to propel us forward”.

Calcey Technologies is a Gartner recognised technology consulting and software product engineering services provider based in the United States and Sri Lanka. 

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on high-trust, high-performance workplace cultures. Through proprietary assessment tools, advisory services, and recognition programs, including Great Place to Work-Certified™, Best Workplaces lists and workplace reviews, Great Place to Work® provides the benchmarks, framework, and expertise needed to create, sustain, and recognize outstanding workplace cultures. 

AnnouncementsLife at Calcey

We are now a Great Place to Work®!

Last week, we learned that we’d been recognised as a great workplace by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work® in Sri Lanka. This new development delights us no end, for it validates our philosophy of building a workplace where talent can thrive.

In Gehan Dias, our General Manager’s words, “We are extremely happy and humbled by our employees rating us as a Great Place to Work. It confirms that our values, culture, and processes are all aligned with each other and are working in tandem to foster an exemplary work environment”.

Our certification as a great workplace comes on the back of a series of in-depth and completely anonymised surveys conducted among all our employees. The surveys are designed to evaluate us as a company on a wide range of attributes including credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie—all of which are extremely important for a happy, high-performing workplace. 

According to the surveys, 92 percent of employees said that they are proud to work for Calcey, and 94 percent affirmed that Calcey is a great place to work. We also found that we ranked much higher on most metrics compared to last year’s top 40 participating workplaces, who themselves had done a very good job at setting the bar for what a great workplace should be.

We see this accolade as yet another feather in our cap and it rounds out a phenomenal twelve months for us during which we posted our best performance ever. As a knowledge and people-driven company, our employees and customers are the two most important stakeholders with the power to drive our success and we are proud of being able to delight them both during the 2020/21 financial year. Our customer satisfaction scores (as measured by our Net Promoter Score) reached world-class levels in 2020, pandemic notwithstanding, and a whopping 96% of employees told us through an internal survey that they would recommend us as a potential employer to their close friends! Upon hearing this, our CEO Mangala Karunaratne and our HR Manager Ishara Walpola felt like doing a few cartwheels around their home offices, but quickly realised they lacked the athletic ability to do so. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are going to rest on our laurels. In keeping with our indomitable Calcey spirit, we will continue to strive to be better. Not because it’s fashionable to say so, but simply because it is a duty we owe our customers, employees, and the next generation of IT professionals in Sri Lanka.

AnnouncementsLife at Calcey

Empowering the Future Generation with Coding

Education is the passport to the future; for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today

Malcolm X

Keeping this quote in mind Calcey recently dived into a partnership with the Karuna Trust to empower disadvantaged youth. Our goal was to create and support a full-time training program that would provide young people who had completed A/L’s, but not got selected to local universities, a foundation in IT and software development, preparing them to take up internships in software companies within 6 to 8 months.

A call for applications was sent out and participants for the program were chosen through a shortlisting process. It was encouraging to see a significant number of female applicants. The program curriculum was designed by Calcey and YMBA Maharagama provided a venue for conducting classes. Calcey interviewed and hired a full-time instructor. Then the program kicked off on the 27th of June, 2019 and is now underway with sessions also being delivered by Calcey team members, who have industry experience and expertise in the various technology or subject areas being discussed.

We’ve been thrilled with the feedback we’ve got so far. It’s great to see the students enjoying the curriculum we designed and wonderful to see their enthusiasm to learn. Our team members facilitating the program are energized by the thought of supporting these youth to become self-sufficient and acquire skills in a growing industry that can take them anywhere in the world.

Calcey has conducted a similar program in Rambuka before and its success led to many requests for another batch to be provided the same opportunity. This time we chose to locate it in Maharagama, so that its easier on our team members who are volunteering their time for this worthy cause.

Cheers to more sessions to come.

Life at Calcey

Mohomed Thahsan: How I Got Into Code

We at Calcey consider ourselves to be different⁠—the square pegs in the round holes if you may. This is also reflected in our hiring practices. Most other software firms in the country choose to recruit only from the top universities, but not us . The way we see it, a talented problem solver is a much more valuable asset than an expensive degree.

Mohomed Thahsan is an Associate Tech lead at Calcey who joined us three and a half years ago. A proud self-taught coder, Thahsan is a living testament to how powerful a cocktail of passion and hard work can be. 

Thahsan, extreme left, with some of his mates at a coding competition in Sri Lanka

Q: What piqued your interest in coding?

Growing up, I was the less talented sibling in my family. In comparison, my brother was leagues ahead. In other words,a code-junkie through and through. Naturally, I didn’t want to be like him. In my mind, I crafted an imaginary future for myself away from brightly lit screens.

I grew up, did my Advanced Level exams, and just about managed to pass. As I sat at home, pondering my future–a fuzzy abstract I had no means of comprehending, a relative told me to give IT a shot. In the absence of any worthwhile alternatives, I decided to try my hand at coding. And so it all began.

Q: As with every story, did yours have an important turning point?

Of course, it did. I enrolled in a short course with the aim of learning Android app development. I don’t believe I gained much out of it, but it did give me the impetus to start experimenting on my own. I began trying to develop small apps. The breakthrough came when I managed to develop a basic calculator app and get it running. Observing my own creation come alive on the screen was all that it took to solidify my path as a coder.

As a coder, that first success is quite important. It is the fuel that keeps you going till you bag your next win.

Q: What brought you to Calcey?

While I was busy teaching myself Android app development, I obtained a job at a small-scale software development firm. There were only a handful of employees. Coupled with the flat structure, I was involved in all development efforts at the firm. As a result, I had the chance to frequently challenge my own capabilities. A seating position next to a colleague who was well-versed in Java proved to be advantageous. A client of that firm referred me to Calcey, and here I am.

Q: How has Calcey helped you grow?

Calcey is where I came into my own as a well-rounded developer. Of course, I had my fair share of struggles. The first few days at Calcey, I left work exhausted simply because I was learning so many new things in such a short timeframe. Fortunately Caley gave me a mentor, Pramuditha, who kindly showed me the ropes. Things were much better from thereon.

Q: Do you have any particular method you use to help you learn?

The most important thing is to break problems down into smaller pieces. Then I try to look for something I already understand very well, even a basic ‘Hello World’ function would do. Using that as a platform, I try to put the disparate pieces of the puzzle together, eventually solving whatever problem I originally faced.

Q: Did you ever think of giving up at any point?

I did, and most people will. That’s normal. But what I realised was that entertaining the notion of giving up, along with all the mental torment that comes with it, was part and parcel of every amateur coder’s journey towards becoming a professional. The ‘Learn-To-Code’ journey is perfectly illustrated by Thinkful’s blog post.

The journey to coding competence is full of valleys and peaks / Credits: Thinkful

In essence, the journey towards becoming an accomplished coder can be divided into four parts.

  1. The Hand-Holding Honeymoon: You get to make use of all the well-polished tutorials and learning material that is available to you. You will still be learning the basics, but you will feel good about your accomplishments.
  2. The Cliff of Confusion: Stuck in a constant loop of debugging, you realise that coding is a much harder affair than you initially thought.
  3. The Desert of Despair: A long and lonely journey through a pathless landscape where every new direction seems correct but you’re frequently going in circles and you’re starving for the resources to get you through it.
  4. The Upswing of Awesome: Once you reach this stage, you realise that you’ve finally found a path through the desert and pulled together an understanding of how to build applications. But your code is still siloed and brittle, much like a house of cards. Now comes your search for a job.

Q: Any words of advice to an aspiring coder?

The best advice I can give anyone is to keep learning and keep experimenting. Follow your curiosity and start learning to code in the direction that your curiosity guides you. There will be times when you will be tempted to tear out your hair in frustration, but don’t. Spend your energy working through things, one step at a time.

Second, keep an eye out for new trends. I’ve subscribed to the Medium Daily Digest so that I can keep up with everything going on in the world of tech. It’s quite helpful and saves me a lot of time, which I would otherwise spend on mindless browsing.

Third, find a good environment to help you grow. For me, Calcey was the place which helped me improve my skills and become the proficient coder I am today. It’s an opportunity that I’m very grateful for.