As country head for Sri Lanka and global head of investment research at Moody’s Analytics Knowledge Services, Chanakya Dissanayake is leading efforts to grow Sri Lanka’s talent pool in specialised financial services, so businesses like the one he leads can grow global market share. Dissanayake was a founding employee of Amba Research; a company able to do something that no one else previously was able – have a large pool of welltrained capital market analysts working for Wall Street companies out of Sri Lanka. With the growth in India and Costa Rica, Amba finally grew to the point at which it was acquired by a Fortune 500 entity: Moody’s Corporation.
“If you see the areas of relative success in Sri Lanka, it’s all about people who have built extremely niche businesses.”
He is quick to point out that Moody’s Analytics has busted several myths associated with Sri Lanka. One is that companies from here are not able to scale to serve global clients. The second is that Sri Lanka’s universities are sub-par. “Those are thoughts we are disproving,” he says. Dissanayake’s outlook is that the industry’s success will itself contribute to creating its supply of talent. “We made a call that if we are going to grow in Sri Lanka, we need to form robust relationships and formal partnerships to work with the top six universities in the country,” he says. Now, tertiary partnerships are no longer a subsidiary of Moody’s corporate social responsibility projects.
Instead, it’s a core part of their talent-sourcing programme. Faculty members from these universities take their sabbaticals at Moody’s Analytical, while its senior analysts frequently guest lecture at universities. Senior analysts from Moody’s conduct Python training for aspiring young data scientists at the University of Colombo. Python is a software programming language.
Dissanayake’s teams help the University of Kelaniya carry out capital market competitions and collaborates with the CFA Institute to conduct a world-class investment research challenge among the top universities in Sri Lanka. The island doesn’t have the scale or the low-cost advantage that is created by a massive population to do things in a commoditised manner. “If you see the areas of relative success in Sri Lanka, it’s all about people who have built extremely niche businesses,” says Dissanayake.