Organizational Changes Due to the Pandemic and Ways to Handle it with Dr Upendra Pieris

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This article is a lightly-edited summary of the key takeaways from our speakers’ appearance on our podcast, “The Shape of Work.” If you haven’t listened to our show yet, be sure to check it out here. These speakers have an incredible stable of startup experiences to draw from, the kind of stories that are unbelievably helpful for HR/people managers to hear.

On this episode of The Shape of Work podcast, we welcome Dr. Upendra Pieris. He has over 15 years of experience in the global IT industry.


Name of the guest: Dr. Upendra Pieris

What he does: CEO of OREL IT.

Find him on LinkedIn.

Get Smart: “My customers are at concern. So if my customers are concerned, I would treat them on a different level because I need my customers to continue with me.”


In this episode, you will get valuable insights into:

  1. Upendra’s first 90 days of being a CEO
  2. How to view leadership?
  3. How did the pandemic affect their company?
  4. The role of the HR team during the pandemic
  5. Significance of employee recognition
  6. The tech development in Sri Lanka


First 90 days of being a CEO:

Being a CEO from a Vice-President has been a huge change for Upendra. He explains the challenges of being the last in the line of designation. For the first 90 days, Upendra worked on clearing the basics.

He looked back at what he did as a vice-president. Being the CEO made him realize that there are small things that often get neglected by employees. These are the things he focused on. He made certain plans to put in front of the team and the management.

Upendra feels that switching to a higher position might have created a gap between him and his employees. But he believes that one should put full effort to reduce this gap.

How to view leadership?

Upendra sees leadership in two contexts.

  1. Leadership by example: Leaders need to walk the talk. He promotes the belief that leaders need to practice what they teach their employees. They need to sit with their people and participate with them in informal activities. 
  1. Suggest employees to treat others the way they want to be treated: Designation makes no difference except for handling more responsibilities. It does not decide the importance one gets. Moreover, there should be a constant focus on the upskilling of employees. 

How did the pandemic affect their company?

When the pandemic began, the company was not known to the concept of working from home. They have a lot of focus on data processing, and they have their own data centers. Hence, the work-from-home facility was not available. Within five days, the tech companies started distributing computers to the employees. They now have a well-managed system with 60%-70% people working from home while the rest work from the office. They have taken certain restrictions. 95% of customer demand was delivered that year.

The role of the HR team during the pandemic: 

When the company initiated ground-level HR operations, it was termed the ‘customer care unit’. The main motive is to highlight how the employees of the company are equivalent to the customers. They have HR teams in different locations, and they maintain an element of diversity in each team. But their motto has always been customer service for both internal and external customers. They believe in treating them equally. The HR team also has the responsibility of organizing entertainment and interaction sessions to motivate the employees.

They have also arranged medical and doctor support and ensured that employees receive timely deliveries of certain facilities and food at the time of need.

Significance of employee recognition:

Upendra talks about the significance of positive recognition and constructive feedback. Not giving any feedback makes employees feel left out of the organization.

It is okay to tell people about their mistakes and the need to fix it. Upendra believes that everyone deserves a second chance. This chance would be their turn to achieve the next level of their career. In addition, appreciating employees for their hard work also motivates them to do better.

Tech development in Sri Lanka:

According to Upendra, Sri Lanka is not lacking tech but rather tech marketing. The world does not know about their tech developments because they have not been marketed efficiently.

However, several organizations have excelled individually, and they are facilitating the giants in the international industry.

Another concerning factor is the skill migration in the companies. He also highlights the improvements needed in the education system of the country. However, Sri Lanka has the ability and is also now backing Indian operations.

Dhristi Shah

Hi, this is Dhristi, Content Writer and Editor at Springworks India. I am a keen learner and am passionate about everything related to writing.

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