INSIDE OUTSHIFT

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Published on 06/11/2024
Last updated on 06/18/2024

Accelerating innovation at Outshift with platform engineering director and CISO Hasith Kalpage

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Name

Hasith Kalpage 

Job Title

CISO and Platform Engineering Director 

Location

London 

Joined Outshift Team

2024 

Hasith Kalpage has successfully navigated three transitions from individual contributor to leadership roles throughout his career. Each progression has reinforced his belief in the power of collaborative innovation and long-term impact that leaders make. Cultivating a culture that empowers teams to embrace innovation and develop agility in the face of challenges is a key tenet of his leadership philosophy.

If you want to do impactful work, you need to do it as a team,” Kalpage says, “It doesn’t matter how clever you are; you need a team in order to win.

During his 15-year tenure at Cisco, Kalpage has assumed various roles that have allowed him to influence the future of tech. Before joining Outshift by Cisco, he was an Engineer Director at Webex, leading the SaaS platform automation layer and a major initiative to transform the culture, processes and technology while adopting Kubernetes and cloud native ecosystem. 

Now, Kalpage serves as CISO and Director of Platform Engineering at Outshift. In these roles, he is dedicated to fostering an environment where his team feels challenged, encouraged, and enabled to drive innovation and deliver value to Cisco. Dive into our Q&A with Kalpage to discover his inspiring career journey, insights on collaborative innovation. and what excites him about the future of tech! 

Describe your role at Outshift.

Two areas of responsibility fall under my role. First, as the Platform Engineering Director, I’m focused on the developer experience and their productivity enabling us to reliably deliver new features to our customers, making development tooling and cloud delivery seamless. This part of my role empowers teams.

Secondly, as the CISO, I’m responsible for security hygiene without friction, ensuring we’ve conducted enough due diligence integrating with Cisco’s Secure Developer Lifecycle.  

As I’m new to Outshift, I've been observing and studying the teams, driving changes in team structure, processes, improvements, and innovation. We are also explicitly approaching the platform as a product.

I’m also pitching for a new business venture, which is the fun thing about Outshift. We’re an accelerator, so it is only natural to innovate. 

What drew you to join Outshift?

I picked this role specifically because I felt I could add significant value and make the biggest impact here. Cisco has a lot of unrealized potential, and as part of Outshift, it is our job to strive toward fulfilling it.

What aspects of your role do you find the most meaningful?

Innovation excites me the most and is the reason I get out of bed in the morning. I can deal with the monotony if I see something great and awesome happen within. This seed is what drives me and Outshift is the best place for it to flourish.

Can you share a significant moment in your career journey so far?

During COVID-19, my 8-person team and I fundamentally changed the course of a billion-dollar SaaS segment at Cisco. When a crisis happens, it’s all about how you make an impact. It was a massive challenge at the time but a lot of fun.  

Pre-COVID, Webex was the collaboration tool of choice for most enterprises. Hence, the demand increased fivefold overnight. Because I owned the platform for modern media backend, I was tasked with moving everything over to public cloud. At the time, almost 98% of it was running in private data centers. We needed to free up space and capacity, so we moved most of it to public cloud in the days and weeks that followed. In addition to the migration, we used this opportunity to realize a Kubernetes platform in production for the first time.

One of the most critical moments came when we had to re-IP subnets in an AWS (Amazon Web Services) region because it wasn’t enough to scale. Enabled by the new tech at the end of business on Friday, we decommissioned a few thousand nodes, brought everything back up on Saturday, validated it on Sunday, and it was working for our customers by Monday. Today, if you suggested doing something like that, even if you had the tooling and maturity, you’d be concerned about this amount of change happening.

Our small team changed the underlying platform layer. We completed a major technology transformation undetected and maintained a seamless service while scaling for conferencing needs during the pandemic.  

My only confidence at the time stemmed from our agility being key to navigate the uncertainty in front of us as we were fighting to keep people and businesses connected and working through Webex. 

What’s your favorite part of working at Outshift?

I interact with many creative and brilliant minds. It’s nice to have conversations with others where you feel like you’re being sharpened by each other.  

If you push for them, there’s also a real opportunity to realize new ventures. Seeing an avenue to pitch a new startup or an idea is exciting. It’s also interesting to see how new products like Panoptica and Motific go to market and are built end-to-end instead of just working on a smaller piece of an extensive and mature product. Additionally, having recently completed an MBA, I get to blend my engineering background with business knowledge to drive and pitch changes, which I find exhilarating.

What sparked your interest in emerging tech?  

Emerging tech offers the chance to seize opportunities and make something big out of them. Getting to do something new and transformative attracts me to incubation. I see myself bringing value by making the accelerator more efficient.  

What excites you about the future of tech?

The AI wave is going to transform many things. It’s important to think about how we embrace it and how we will need to rethink and do things differently.

If you hadn’t embarked on a career in tech, what industry could you see yourself working in today?

When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut or an airplane pilot, and then, at some point, I started leaning toward engineering. When I started my undergraduate studies, I first did mechatronics as I was looking to work on robots. When I realized the reality of the work involved, I decided that wasn’t for me, so I changed to electronics, which is where I found my love of programming. I liked how you could quickly iterate and develop electronic systems.


This Q+A is part of an ongoing series called Team Member Spotlight, which highlights individuals at Outshift. Search for open positions and join visionaries like Hasith Kalpage who predict and plan for future challenges. 

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