Equality is the Soul of Liberty – Founder of Ascentic Ltd, Anna Kalm

Distinguishing much potential to set up a good business in Sri Lanka, Anna Kalm, Founder of Ascentic Ltd., is now setting constructive trends in the tech world. Hailing from Sweden, Anna possesses an educational background in engineering with a core focus on design and product developments. 

Sharing a sense of common interest with her Co-founder in going abroad, the duo’s first visit to Sri Lanka was for a vacation. Anna talks about falling instantly in love with the place and people. Due to her passion for surfing, the beautiful ocean waves had also won her heart a great deal. During her visit, Anna took note of the strong market presence in IT and offshoring of IT services within the country. “Knowing the challenges of Swedish companies and finding the competence they need, we decided to go to Sri Lanka to start a business there”, Anna explains. And thus, with a bare minimum of researched knowledge about the country, Anna moved to Sri Lanka in 2016 and brought Ascentic Ltd. to life in 2017.

The era that we now call ‘the new normal’ is undoubtedly caused by the ongoing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, amidst which many industries were negatively impacted in terms of finance and stability. However, Anna mentions that the need for such solutions in the software industry has been growing during the pandemic, which has given Ascentic the ground to stand on in the face of such setbacks. An additional part of the new normal was the need for companies to work from home. Ascentic is known to always have a flexible work from home policy. “People can choose where they want to work from, it’s the results that matter ”, Anna says. Nonetheless, the need for tools and processes in the software development industry and the rise of questions concerning the mental aspects such as the motivation and inspiration of employees alongside balancing work and family life stole Ascentic’s focus, thus creating a sense of challenge. 

Having won quadruple acknowledgements for being the best workplace earlier this year, Anna believes greatly in practising and creating an environment filled with diversity and equality. When asked about the launch of Ascentic’s unique paternity leave policy, Anna talks about the story behind her idea that occurred during her quarantine stay in Sri Lanka following a trip from Sweden. Anna explains that the global IT industry has an imbalance of gender equality, with more males than females holding senior positions. “In any company having a balanced portion of males and females is an important part of the diversity aspect”, Anna says. Having had a look into the parental leave policy, she realized that while the mothers were the only ones given the option to take leave, the fathers weren’t; which meant that mothers staying at home for more extended periods could have their careers impacted.  

Anna recalls the presence of such a policy back in her homeland, where one and a half years of parental leave is equally provided to both parents, whose salaries are then funded by the government. In contrast, Anna mentions the need to comply with certain legal obligations here in Sri Lanka. “For example, how much leave the mother gets, but when it comes to the father, it turns out it is not regulated at all”, she expresses. 

Talking further about Ascentic’s paternal leave policy, Anna decided to provide four months of leave for both mothers/fathers/partners. While it is Ascentic that bears the financial cost of paying their salaries, Anna is set on bringing forth change and a positive impact in the IT industry, in hopes of generating equality and sustainability while also allowing parents to pursue a successful career pace while maintaining a family and work-life balance. “We hope that it will inspire other organizations and create a bit of a debate for parents to ask their employers”, Anna says. 

Proliferating in the tech world since the beginning of their venture, Ascentic owns a “solid customer base today” and continues to accomplish significant milestones by opening a branch in Gothenburg, Sweden and earning a gold competency partnership with Microsoft both within 2021. Anna looks forward to “growing with quality and keeping the focus on how to be a good employer” while also “challenging the norms and positively impacting society”. Holding a strong belief in the following words of wisdom and inspiration, “Positive change always starts with one individual who steps up and says: We can do better. Be that individual, and you will be successful regardless of what you take on.”, Anna aspires on improving Ascentic much more in the days to come. 

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