WSO2 10 Years: We are Only As Strong as the Confidence of our People


Many folks who’ve been around at WSO2 since its inception have great tales to tell, ranging from their first impressions, long hours spent before a product release, the many challenges faced, and funny stories behind the scenes. However, one thing is clear – WSO2 has inspired each of them in many ways and challenged them enough to be able to outperform and make great strides in their careers.

Recruitment for any startup is hard, especially if you don’t have a fancy office and no great success stories to share with potential employees. Back then too, all we had to convince people to join us was the confidence we had that this business will scale and a promise to inspire, challenge, and motivate them every day.

It was perhaps a Shifu-Po situation like in Kung Fu Panda where an empty scroll (supposedly sacred and powerful) is handed over – all there is in the end is confidence and ability to believe in what you do and do it with great confidence.
“I joined WSO2 in late 2005, a few months after its inception. I still remember the moment I walked in for the interview. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I’d want to work at WSO2 as it was a very small office with less than 20 employees. All that changed when I had my ‘interview’ with Sanjiva. In fact, it was more of a friendly chat. What keeps me motivated to date is the unique culture and the pioneering work we do. Over the years, I have learnt something new everyday! Looking back I’m happy that I decided to join this company.” – Afkham Azeez – Director, Architecture

“I cherish the opportunities I’ve got while working at WSO2 – I was around when the first secured messages were sent with a C Web service engine; I was also there when PHP was used to write completely secure Web services and clients. I still remember the day the first reliable message sequence was passed between a PHP client and a service. They were all first-ever moments and all of these were witnessed within the first two years of my WSO2 life. At that time, I did not know, or imagine, that the best was yet to come. With WSO2 Carbon, we redefined the middleware space … and I was fortunate to be part of that team. More than technical skills, it is people skills that I’ve developed. While it is a luxury to play a leadership role in one of the most smart teams in the world, it is also one of the most challenging jobs. The exciting part is that life is always full of challenges – you always have an opportunity to invent something new. And that is one of two key reasons that motivates me every morning to work for WSO2.”– Samisa Abeysinghe – Vice President, Delivery

So, is there a secret ingredient to success? Like Mr. Ping tells Po, it’s nothing! Many would say it’s the open culture, environment, and opportunity WSO2 has given them to brainstorm, throw in ideas, try things out, make mistakes and learn from them, and eventually be able to move forward with the best decisions – that’s how we’ve been able to innovate and thrive. And great ideas can come from anyone, whether you’re an intern, a senior person, or a clumsy ‘Po’ in the company, hence everyone’s ideas are equally important.

“My career at WSO2 began as an Intern of the C team in September 2007. Within the first year of employment, I was able to contribute to two major product releases and also earn membership at the Apache Software Foundation. WSO2 has helped me steer my career and enhance my knowledge and offered several other employee benefits to me too. The ability to tailor my work schedule based on various deadlines is one such advantage. I’m proud to a part of such an amazing team.” – Senaka Fernando – Solutions Architect

And sometimes, we take daring to new heights – doing whatever it takes to be where we have to be!

“Upon arriving in Colombo for meetings in May 2010, my colleague and I were informed that the road from the airport to Colombo had been closed due to the flooding that had been affecting many parts of the city for several days. I was to appear on a panel at a conference event the next evening, and nobody seemed to know precisely where the problems were or what their scope was, and whether we would be able to make it to the event at all. We booked into an airport hotel for the night.  The next morning the road was still closed to most traffic, but some trucks and larger vehicles were able to wade through. We hired a car to take us to the flooded section, where Sanjiva was waiting for us in his oft-teased purple jeep, which made it through the flood zone with water up to doorframes but without major incident. No more would the purple jeep be the butt of jokes after such a heroic performance!” – Jonathan Marsh – Vice President, Strategy

The great lessons learned possibly by each employee at WSO2 as well as the company as a whole is to not wait until everything is just right, but to move forward with confidence and implement and make the required tweaks as we go along. We’ve learned that things will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less-than-perfect conditions. But what’s important is to get started now. With each step we’ve taken, we as a company have grown stronger, more skilled, more self-confident, more successful, and today we’re bigger and better.

As Po (or the Dragon Warrior) says “I’m not a big fat panda. I’m THE big fat panda.”

Happy Birthday, WSO2!