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Sanna Khaled

Matching engineering talent from Sri Lanka to European tech start-ups - meet Sanna Khaled, CEO & Founder of Lucytech and MSc in Economics alum.

Describe your role and what it is that you do overall and on a day-to-day basis.

I am the founder and CEO of Lucytech in Sri Lanka. We provide engineers to European scale-ups in the tech space that work as what we call remote team members. In essence, we help our clients with headhunting the right candidates for their open positions, hire the engineer and make sure they are looked after well by our operations team; anything from salaries and insurance to an amazing office and fun team events. However, the engineer reports directly into the client’s organization so we are not part of the actual software development process. Our clients view our engineers as one of their own, just that they are hired by us and based in Sri Lanka. So far, we mainly have clients from Sweden and Germany, but we are growing fast across several markets. Some of our most well-known clients include Fishbrain and Dynamic code.  

On a day-to-day basis I do everything from building the organization and processes to making the hiring process as efficient as possible, liaising with clients and solving problems to arranging fun team outings. We are still a start-up so I am involved across the board at Lucytech. Classic start-up life which is a lot of fun! 


What interested you about the field/company/role you are currently in? What inspired you to start your company? 

I have been living in Sri Lanka together with my partner (who also studied at SSE) since 2014. Before this I was involved in various ventures but a few years ago, because of the huge shortage of great engineering talent in Northern Europe for tech companies, I made the decision to start Lucytech. While demand for engineering talent is rising, Sri Lanka has a long tradition of IT with several large IT firms that has gone global so there is really good the talent pool here (which a lot of people don’t know about). I put two together and figured that it would be a win-win to connect the two worlds.


What does Lucytech do differently than other similar companies? What do you think is needed to increase the number of women in tech? 

I think we stand out by not being part of short-term projects and instead thinking very long-term. We only take on clients that think long-term and see our engineers as their own and treat them the same way. Long-term is key for us. This is good for both the client and for our engineers. Both in terms of job security and becoming a productive part of the client's organization. The more you work with a client the better you get to know them as an engineer, which therefore increases the quality of what you deliver in terms of coding.  

Regarding females in tech there is still a lot to be done. We make sure to always match salaries with the positions, which is not always the case when it comes to gender. We also have a good understanding that woman should be able to have kids and create a family without that hurting their career. But as I said, there is a lot to be done in this area. 


Why did you choose to study your subject area at SSE? 

I studied Economics at SSE as that was my passion at that time but have since then pivoted towards the business development in my career, which is what excites me now. Building well-functioning companies through processes while creating a great culture is a challenge I enjoy dearly.


How did your time/education at SSE help guide you to the career journey you have embarked on? 

As I mentioned, I come from an economics background but I also got to meet people from all over the world studying various other subjects while at SSE, which inspired me to move from economics into business and management. I still have great friends from my time at SSE but also a good network which is very helpful now connecting me with companies in need of tech talent.


What path did you take from graduation to where you are now? 

After I graduated from SSE I moved to Malta to join Bettson and I think that’s where my passion for tech and business developed further. Then I moved to Sri Lanka where my partner was already working, building a tech company for Kinnevik as the CEO (he also studied at SSE). After a few various ventures in Sri Lanka I finally landed in starting Lucytech, which is now doing very well in terms of growth and profitability. But we started from humble beginnings bootstrapping the first year.


Following your time studying, do you have any words of wisdom or advice you would like to share with our current students? 

Make sure to catch up with people at SSE studying other subjects than yourself to get a better understanding about future opportunities and perspectives. Just because you started, like me specializing in Economics, doesn’t mean you have to follow that path later down the line in your career.


What are three words that sum up your time at SSE? 

Friends, network and a great including atmosphere. I had some of my best year in my life at SSE making lifelong friendships.