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Friday September 30th, 2022

Veracity Group: Enhancing Leadership For Growth

Jeevan Gnanam Founder and Group Chief Executive – Veracity Group

Veracity Group is investing in growing its leadership team to give the company sharper perspectives and deepen its expertise around industry domains and new-age tech for faster growth.

Veracity Group currently employs approximately 300 staff and serves over 30 customers across Australia, Singapore, Norway, India, the U.S, and the Middle East. It aims to build impactful integrated disruptive platforms out of Sri Lanka with capabilities from Web 3.0, managed services, FAO, software development, integrated digital marketing, IoT, blockchain, and AI/ML.

To achieve these goals and become one of the fastest-growing purpose-driven companies in Sri Lanka, the founder of Veracity Group, Jeevan Gnanam, strengthened the leadership team with new appointments to key leadership roles. He invited proven leaders like Eric Selvadurai to assume the mantle of Chairman, and Anton Ravindran an expert on Artificial Intelligence, as an Independent Non-Executive Director. Jeevan serves as the Group Chief Executive and Vice President of Veracity Products. In this interview with Echelon, Jeevan and Eric discuss the reasons for the new leadership structure.

Eric Selvadurai
Chairman – Veracity Group

Jeevan, what was your founding vision for Veracity and how has that evolved?

Jeevan: When we started several years ago, we felt that there was a huge untapped market for building a platform for financial services in Sri Lanka that could leverage the large population of CIMA-qualified skills in the country. We then focused on more high-end services in new-age technologies like AI and machine learning as our strength, which we started to discover, was disruptive innovations. What Veracity is good at is helping create exponential companies by helping them leverage algorithms either in their current business processes or to create new products and services.

We are building AI and ML-driven solutions that can potentially solve problems in Sri Lanka and scale for a global clientele. One such example is Spectrify AI, where we leverage AI, machine learning and spectral analysis to create value and deliver consistency in quality control across the supply chain for tea, herbs and spices. Earlier, there was a problem with quality because there was no view of the chemical structures of these natural products in their journey from the plantation to the end product, but Spectrify AI has solved that problem.

That is one example of what we do. Another is we can help clients figure out new products using data and help them monetize through a detailed one-year journey. We can offer them possible ways to add value to existing data and even build models that will enable them to improve their processes in the future.

On the insurance side, we have an application that can understand automated damage claims. It takes a picture of the damage to a car and immediately gives the estimate. Through our partner WENN, whose clients are some of the largest auto rental companies, we will now take this product into Asia.

We have a range of domain knowledge enabling us to take out tech solutions to different industries and different verticals. We have expertise in several domains like agriculture, FinTech, insurance tech, and manufacturing. We are learning as we grow, so we want to expand our areas of expertise and get into new domains whenever possible.

Can you take us through the thought process that saw you restructure the leadership, inviting Eric Selvadurai to Chair the group?

Jeevan: I wanted Veracity Group to make an impact and grow faster, and I felt it was critical to bring in new perspectives and expand our worldview. Eric has a global track record of building successful businesses and transforming several companies into large corporations or publicly listed companies. We needed someone like him to help structure the teams and give an outside perspective, even to me, because there were things that I was doing wrong in structuring leadership, like trying to do everything myself. I believe we have positioned Veracity to exploit its strengths, build on them and accelerate growth.

Eric, you possess over three decades of experience in multiple spheres of management and leadership positions in several global organizations. You have set up many large-scale IT offshoring operations in Sri Lanka and South Asia and taken several of them public. In that context, what attracted you to Veracity?

Eric: Having been in corporate leadership for over 40 years, I decided to step down from active corporate life and work with young entrepreneurs to help them achieve their dreams. Jeevan approached me to assist him with building Veracity Group into a global IT and IT Services company. Veracity had the ingredients to become a global player but needed the discipline and a sustainable execution framework. I am working with the Veracity leadership to take the company to its next phase, exponential growth.

What can Veracity do to move up the value chain and scale quickly? What will be your approach to elevating the leadership at Veracity to take the group to the next level?

Eric: The company has huge potential. Often, leaders constrain themselves by their limitations. Leaders must think big and be bold to assemble talent who are sometimes smarter. The leaders must be focused and not be distracted from the set goals.

In my approach to elevating leaders, I focus on two critical components. One, leaders must lead from behind. It is like learning to ride a bicycle, there is no substitute for the rider, but the rider needs support until the rider can do without it. Yes, the rider may fall but will get better with practice. Sometimes leaders fail to understand this concept. They cannot expect the staff to learn by watching them, but a true leader must trust people and guide them to execute while having the appropriate controls in place. Second, leaders must make quick decisions. In a high-performing organization, making timely decisions is critical. As leaders, we must make quick decisions. If you have 100 decisions to make, it is better to make 100 decisions and get 80 right and 20 wrong with a success rate of 80%. You can course-correct the wrong decisions rather than making only 20 decisions and getting all of them right for a success rate of 20%.

What is your vision for the company, and can you share your plans for growth and goals for Veracity Group?

Eric: The company is restructured into four strategic business units. We picked the right leaders and empowered them to grow these business units. We have further inducted industry experts to advise the business unit leaders. Global contracts have doubled within the last 12 months, and our focus will be to increase global reach and grow the defined businesses. I believe if we execute our plans for each business, Veracity will emerge as a significant player in the global IT and IT services segment.

Veracity Services is our services arm, the team has been augmented and services are well defined. We know what we want to do and what we do not want to do. The focus is on expanding the global customer base and delivering value to customers, not just labour arbitrage. We have exceptional talent and want to provide exceptional services to our customers. By doing so, we provide employees with the opportunity to learn and develop their careers.

Veracity Digital is our Data Science and Engineering team. This business provides AI and Data science technology and services. The team works closely with customers to find innovative solutions to assist the client’s business requirements. The team works with start-ups and mature organizations to create and deliver sophisticated business solutions.

Veracity Products is our own products division. This division creates technology products licensed to corporates and consumers. We have a portfolio of multiple products and develop specific solutions for specific industries on request. We see huge potential for these products both in Sri Lanka and abroad.

And finally, Veracity Ventures: This is the strategic investment arm of the company. Its purpose is to identify sound investments that complement the group businesses and bring growth.

EXPLORING THE FRONTIERS OF TECH

At Veracity Ventures, we provide seed capital to startups and tech solutions that have the potential to disrupt and innovate industries. In addition, we are engaged in venture building focusing on industry segments that are aligned with VeracityAI’s broader strategy.

Given AI’s role as one of the frontiers in the evolution of the tech industry, it is an exciting time to be in this space. Our team has myriad experiences from our own AI products to providing bespoke tech solutions, and it is an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with our multi-talented teams across the group.

Lakshan De Silva
Vice President – Veracity Ventures

DEEPENING RELATIONSHIPS, THRIVING IN DIVERSITY

I work with wide-ranging clients, from varied sectors, spread across different geographical locations and contrasting cultures. I find this diversity a truly enriching experience as it demands both agility and adaptability in my relations with each of these clients.

My role predominantly oversees the migration of services from clients to Veracity and in providing the requisite services I am required to have a thorough understanding of the client’s needs, expectations, and the business. In this regard, the learnings gained and shared have been a fulfilling experience. I’m fortunate to have a dynamic, well-rounded, and experienced team who has constantly exceeded expectations in service delivery. Working with such high-performance individuals has been a pleasure and the team is constantly committed to evolving in terms of excellence.

Shazil Ismail
COO/CFO – FAO Services

BUILDING A COMPELLING VISION

We are now venturing into new territories and focussing on digitization to help new and existing clients re-invent how they work and help them to transform into digital-first organisations, enabling them to unlock growth opportunities and thrive. I am truly excited to be part of this journey. We come from diverse backgrounds and domain expertise which we can all tap into and learn from each other.

The collective knowledge and experience are helping me to create a compelling vision for the company that I lead and plot our journey forward. Furthermore, as a leader, it also provides me with the opportunity to serve our employees and be a part of their success in life – it gives me great joy to see them grow and thrive.

Rohith Pradeep
CEO – BPM Business and Digitization