Wiley global technology’s pursuit of growth amidst Covid-19

Bimal Gunapala, General Manager of Wiley Global Technology Sri Lanka.

Expansion continues for this two centuries-old firm which, in 200 years, has seen crises come and go, so it is little surprise that resilience is deeply embedded within its culture

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted businesses worldwide and many companies are scrambling to get a hold on the situation. For Bimal Gunapala, General Manager of Wiley Global Technology Sri Lanka, companies could either brace for the storm or fold under pressure.

Specialising in online education, training and research, Wiley is leaning into the storm to see it through because resilience is part of its DNA. Having been around for over 200 years, it has continued to move forward whilst facing a major global crisis, remaining even more optimistic during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

“Wiley has been through the test of time in the last two centuries, so this is nothing new to us; we know how to adapt to change,” Bimal Gunapala, General Manager of Wiley Global Technology Sri Lanka said. “You can react to this in two ways: dig into a hole or look adversity square in the eye. Wiley has one option and that is facing this pandemic head-on,” he said.

Wiley, a global brand in research and academic publishing mainly in the form of print, electronic books, and journals, is in the midst of a digital transformation. One key component to this transformation is Sri Lanka. Wiley decided to enter Sri Lanka for its unparalleled technology talent pool. It opened one of its three major technology centres in Colombo last year amidst the Easter Sunday attacks. Its other technology centres are in Brazil and Russia.

“Wiley’s journey in Sri Lanka was tested from the start. When the country was chosen as a candidate for its latest Technology Centre the board paper for this was presented in December 2018, Sri Lanka was going through some political instability,” Gunapala said. “And immediately after we started our recruitment operations in 2019, the terrorist bombs went off, but we continued operations and recruitment, proving that Wiley’s resilience is embedded deep within its culture,” he said.

Despite some of these external factors, the Sri Lankan office was able to open and steadily grow. They are now 280 plus employees in just 13 months. Wiley Sri Lanka plans to continue its expansion over the coming months. Gunapala says Sri Lanka’s talent pool in the IT sector, even though small in number, is significant in terms of quality, especially with highly skilled engineering professionals.

“As a company which employs more than 8,000 people across 18 countries, Wiley is nimble, changing course where needed with their futuristic approaches even under normal circumstances,” Gunapala said.

The company is also deep-rooted in its ‘people focused’ culture. Employees are referred to as ‘colleagues’ to reinforce Wiley’s collegial and collaborative nature. Things like dignity and respect are valued and they live by ‘human beings first, professionals second’.

The team in Sri Lanka has quickly embraced this culture as well – and makes comradery a priority, including connecting outside of the office, such as on the cricket field.

“We also continue to make training and development of our staff a priority, while many others are not thinking of training at this time but focused on surviving this pandemic,” Gunapala said. “Wiley truly knows the power of research and education. It is so powerful that it can help eliminate disease, deliver innovation, and create opportunity for everyone,” Gunapala said. “What we do is more important than ever, and it’s a privilege to help play a part in this.”

In fact, during the crisis, Wiley has made scientific and medical research, digital courseware and online education services freely available. They opened up COVID research studies to help in the search for effective vaccines and treatments. On the education side, Wiley also made digital courseware and online education services freely available and helped many with their virtual operations.

During the ongoing crisis Wiley’s businesses in peer reviewed research, online education, and corporate e-learning are seeing long-term positive trends. These are all an essential component of the global economy.

“The novel coronavirus has proved one thing clear, that the new normal would be more centred in the virtual environment. Therefore, we will intensify our focus in these areas,” he says.

Taking education online and making it accessible and more affordable to all is Wiley’s focus so that students can be recruited into the job market with much ease. These past few months of the pandemic have made one thing clear: there is an accelerated shift to digital courseware and e-learning, and Wiley is right there. It also is apparent that the industry is on the cusp of a new era of learning – one which technology fuels.

As a company which employs more than 8,000 people across 18 countries, Wiley is nimble, changing coast where needed with their futuristic approaches even under normal circumstances

Technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can deliver a personalized learning experience for every individual. Personalized learning levels the playing field. When we take into account each individual’s learning pattern, both students and instructors alike benefit. Students will have a tailored experience to their strengths and weaknesses, and instructors will know exactly how a student learns best.

Wiley sees this power everyday with its adaptive platform Alta. Alta uses AI to identify gaps in a student’s knowledge. These technologies also underscore another crucial area: data and analytics. Good data is needed to fuel these impressive technologies, and the team in Sri Lanka is also working closely on this aspect.

Wiley’s mandate is to bridge the skills gap by delivering content solutions in new and innovative ways to enrich the learning experience. Its mission is to deliver lifelong learning for all – and that mission has never been more important. It is estimated that 120 million workers worldwide will need to be retrained as a result of some of the new technologies that are emerging.

Quite simply Wiley has always focused on helping customers succeed, wherever they are in their education and professional careers. And on the research side of the business, Wiley is dedicated to ensuring work is not only published quickly, but is open, accessible and transparent.

Wiley also has made headlines as of late with some of the many exciting companies they have acquired. These include mThree Global Research – a market research and recruitment service provider, zyBooks, Knewton and others. Wiley has a storied history and has continually reinvented itself over centuries. If there is one thing they have proven time and time again is that they know not only how to adapt to changing conditions – but to lead through them.