Three Quick Ones – Jehan Perinpanayagam

Jehan Perinpanayagam plays a central role in Sri Lankan business and in strengthening trade relations with the Nordic countries. He is the President of the Sri Lanka Nordic Business Council and the chairman of SLASSCOM (Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies) which brings together a growing number of members. He has been with John Keells Group, Sri Lanka’s largest business conglomerate, for nearly 30 years. Since 2005 he is the CEO of its subsidiary Infomate.

Located just south of a market giant, how does Sri Lanka compete?

We don’t compete, we co-operate. We talk about India+1. The respective strengths of our offerings are different. India is ideally suited for very large projects, whereas for more niche projects Sri Lanka is better suited. Diversifying risk across multiple countries is becoming increasingly important in a geopolitically complex and turbulent world. Sri Lanka’s IT/BPM industry offers some of the best and most cost-effective talent. For example, Swedish software company IFS has 2,000 employees in Sri Lanka. There are several other companies in the IT / BPM space from Sweden, Norway and across Europe that have established delivery centers or partnerships in Sri Lanka. Many emphasize quality and innovation as key factors.

What are the main lessons learnt from the pandemic?

The pandemic was a challenge for all of us. In Sri Lanka, we have emerged with some valuable lessons which will strengthen us. Digitalization took big steps forward, both during the pandemic and afterwards. At the same time, risk thinking became more sophisticated with an increased focus on security. We also learnt to take advantage of the fact that we work in a different time zone from many of our clients and partners. Working from any geographical location became a matter of course and a new normal in the post pandemic world. People are more comfortable with working across borders and accessing talent globally.

How can trade relations between Sri Lanka and Sweden develop?

Sweden and the rest of the Nordic region, along with the US, UK, Australia and the Middle East, are key markets for Sri Lanka’s IT / BPM sector. We recognize that we have a job to do to raise awareness of what Sri Lanka can offer. Therefore, co-operation with the SSLBC is key, as well as with chambers of commerce at national and regional level. We would welcome online and in-person meetings including inward missions and matchmaking. Industry and financial analysts have a growing role in this work through their in-depth analyses that contribute to sophisticated knowledge dissemination. We welcome visits from analysts and journalists and those keen to understand firsthand Sri Lanka’s fast-growing IT/BPM sector, world class talent and partnership opportunities.

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