A ‘Legend’ workplace for Sri Lankans: Celebrating the People’s Culture at 99x

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The Great Place to Work Institute in Sri Lanka recently awarded 99x, a leading technology company in Sri Lanka, the Great Place to Work Legend title, highlighting its commitment to maintaining an open and diverse workplace for all and, more importantly, standing by its employees in the face of adversity.

Indika Rathnasekara, Eeshani Ranadheera, Kalana Wijesekara, Deeni Amith and Obasha Priyankara

99x, widely regarded as a people-first organisation, has received the prestigious title for its dedicated and long-term approach to its workplace culture efforts. The company’s conscious efforts relating to culture and leadership, and its focus on people have resulted in high rankings in Sri Lanka since 2013. Despite rapid growth and multiple crises, 99x has maintained its highest ratings by implementing corrective measures at the appropriate time.

Several 99x employees came forward to share their journey with 99x, talk about how the company has allowed them to grow as individuals and empowered them, and why they think 99x is a ‘Legend’ workplace. Our conversation with them was based on the below questions:

  1. What has your experience been working with 99x?
  2. What are some of your most memorable moments at 99x?
  3. How do you view the culture of the organisation? How has it benefited from becoming who you are today?

Below are some excerpts from them:

Kalana Wijesekara- Director, Software Engineering

I joined 99x in 2011 as a Software Engineer. Since then, I have been exposed to multiple projects, product developments and tech stacks. One thing that stood out for me about 99x since the day I joined was the company’s prominently diversified and inclusive culture. Many companies use the word “family-like” to describe their company’s culture, but 99x takes it to the next level by empowering employees to be who they are. Every member of the 99x team is genuinely waiting to see you grow and cheer you on. 

Another thing that stood out to me about the culture of 99x is the opportunity to participate in ventures and initiatives aside from our job role. This allowed me to contribute directly to the company’s growth and get a wide range of exposure as well, which was the purpose of this role model that is made specifically for employee-driven companies. 

The company objectives at 99x are clearly defined and broken down into pathways to enable employees to execute their passion projects seamlessly. To support that, volunteer groups are established. 99x also supports a flat hierarchy and an open-door policy that allows us to reach anyone from interns to the CEOs, providing consistent workflows, good relationships and better work culture. 

During these trying times, 99x rolled out a cost-of-living allowance scheme as one of its key initiatives. The rollout ensures that all its employees in Sri Lanka will receive a robust salary package, improving and revising all employees’ salary and allowance levels to reflect the rising cost of living better. As a company, 99x believes that ensuring economic stability will help the company retain employees and improve their productivity and satisfaction. Furthermore, 99x partnered with online medical consultation services, including oDoc and InReach Global, to facilitate online health consultation for its employees to fortify their wellness, especially during the first and second waves of COVID. These wellness platforms help the workforce build mental resilience, improve productivity and maintain motivation with their psychology-based tools for individuals and the workplace.

A turning point in my career was awarded the CEO’s Award for Employee of the Year in 2015. It was a memorable night in my life and encouraged me to be consistent in what I do. I was a part of the corporate leadership by 2015, and in 2019, I was promoted to the management team. I achieved this through the fantastic culture that 99x has put forward. 

Eeshani Ranadheera- Senior HR Executive

I started my journey with 99x in 2017, when I was a fresher from school. I joined as an intern in the HR department, and I have seen the department grow from four to ten members in five years. This is my first corporate world experience, and 99x has also seen me grow from a fresher to a graduate. I’m also currently studying for my MBA, so all I have been in the corporate world thanks to 99x. It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience.

The primary speciality of 99x is the people we work with and the culture we follow. We have a supportive environment; we promote work-life balance, share ideas, bring ideas to life and inspire innovation. The management gives us all an equal share of voice to grow within the company and as individuals. Even incentive-wise, everything that is given to the company is shared equally.

I got proper exposure to the practical environment because of 99x; the direction I got by directly working with the leadership team has been a turning point in my career and life. 

The reason I think 99x is a ‘Legend’ workplace is the fact that we are all equal within the company. We are valued and treated the same way, which gives us ammunition to drive the company forward with passion. 

Obasha Priyankara- Associate Tech Lead

I joined 99x in 2016 as an intern in Software Engineering, and even back then, we had heard great things about 99x and how it was a great place to work at. One thing that stood out for me about the culture at 99x from the day I joined was that we were never treated as interns. Our advice and contributions were valued just the same as other employees, and we were all involved in all the internal processes and not kept on the sidelines. We were all raised to believe that we were leaders, and the levels of responsibility given to us were immense and generated a significant amount of exposure. 

When I joined 99x as an intern to the Dotitude channel, I joined a team of about 20 people and have seen the company grow from there. I have also seen myself grow with the opportunities granted to me and because of the tremendous cultural aspects at 99x. Currently, I serve the company as an Associate Tech Lead. 

One of my most memorable experiences at 99x was organising the ‘Xians’ Got Talent’ Talent Show because that offered a great opportunity to connect with the internal staff of 99x and have great fun. Also, something unique and wonderful about 99x is the two hours per day they allocate for all employees to invest their time in what we call 99x Innovatives. This allocated time is for all employees to be part of an initiative outside of their day job and express their more creative and innovative side. 

The main factor contributing to the growth and success of 99x is the mindset of the team members. We are all very approachable, and our attitudes have helped us be more sympathetic and connect with everyone in the company. Since there is also a flat hierarchy, we have no issue connecting with anyone from the organisation, asking or giving advice or help and receiving great feedback and acknowledgement at every level. 

Indika Rathnasekara- Technical Architect

It is strange and uncommon these days to hear that a person has worked in one corporation for nearly 20 years. But it just shows how much I have enjoyed this environment and the challenges that it brings every day. I have gained a lot of experience working with diverse communities, especially in the company, which hails from many generations. Also, this industry changes daily, which is a challenge as technologies expand daily, and we have to meet that demand. In terms of workplaces, we have a great platform where anyone can come in and excel; there is a transparent and open culture. 

Since I started working at 99x, the most significant revolution that has come about is the introduction to social media. Back then, when 99x was called EuroCenter, many people were the same age as I was, and there were fewer younger people. We were like a family, and work was less hectic. The seed of culture that we planted then is what has blossomed into the great place to work that 99x is today. We have been experienced and resilient while navigating many things, from recessions to pandemics to economic crises. 

Our initiatives made a massive difference in the perception of our presence in the local industry. Working with international clients for over 20 years has made me become a professional with skills I’ve gained from the best in the industry. The turning point in my career was when I got to work with PuzzlePart from the Nordic region. It was the perfect opportunity to get the best out of the exposure given to me. I gained excellent knowledge on how to cope with customers, meet customer needs, and be open with the customer. My mentor always encouraged me to be truthful and honest with our customers, which was one of the most valuable pieces of advice I got then.

I believe 99x is a ‘Legend’ workplace because our values drive our culture, nurture work-life balance, and don’t create our culture manually. We foster our staff and team members until they grow to the best version of themselves.

Deeni Amith – Intern- Digital Marketing

I became a part of the 99x family in January of 2022. I joined as a trainee in digital marketing in the final year of my undergraduate degree. 99x gave me the best training from the day I joined and made me grow into my role as a digital marketer. It also helped me generate better content, think out of the box, create better communication strategies and push me further than my limits in a way that made me appreciate the corporate culture and experience. 

99x believes in creating equal opportunities for everyone regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and background. This creates a more peaceful environment where everyone’s voices are heard, and everyone can contribute equally to the growth of projects and the company as a whole. This is why I think 99x is always a Great Place to Work Legend. 

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