Third time’s a charm

IT expert from Sri Lanka finds his place in Finland and now develops mobile services for a bank.

Lakshan Costa, originally from Sri Lanka, could not have imagined in his home country that life would take him to Finland. He left for Dubai in search of a better life in 2016, then for Tallinn in 2020, before moving to Tampere just over a year ago.

Costa works for the Vaasa-based company Regtech, which develops software for its owner, Svea Bank. Costa’s role consists of making the bank’s customers’ mobile payments easier. His skills include full stack development, cloud technology and several programming languages.

Four days a week, Costa lives in a rental studio apartment in Vaasa, the city where the company’s office is. “The seafront in Vaasa is so beautiful. I ride my mountain bike in the forest there in the evenings.”

On the weekends, he goes home to Tampere, where his family and friends live.
Costa first heard about Finland from a friend of his wife’s. When they visited that friend in Tampere for the first time, they felt that moving to Finland could be possible.

“I saw that Finland has a good welfare state and opportunities for bringing up kids and studying.”

A band that blends cultures

On Saturdays, a band called the Peacemakers, that Costa plays guitar in, practices in Tampere. Three of the other members are Sri Lankan, but the pianist is Finnish.
“We play traditional Sri Lankan music and Western songs in English. At some stage, we’ll add Finnish songs to our mix: then we’ll have a great playlist.”

The family has settled in Finland well, and the customs in the Pirkanmaa region have become familiar to them.

“We’ve gone to the restaurant at the Prisma hypermarket in Pirkkala and tasted their black sausage a few times. It’s really good. I also like oven-baked salmon in cream sauce and mashed potatoes.”

After having lived in three other countries, Costa believes that he and his family will stay in Finland. He realizes that he could earn more for the same work in some countries, but that is not at the top of his mind.

“The work-life balance is the best in Finland, and there’s a big international community here.”

Studying while working

At the start of this year, Costa was working as a software developer at Silo AI in Tampere. Before that, he developed software at Seven Principles in Tallinn, Mangosoft Solutions in Sri Lanka, and ITS the 1 Solutions in Dubai.

He has educated himself around the world. He earned a degree in web software technology at the Esoft Metro Campus in Sri Lanka and studied math and science at the St. Joseph Vaz College. Currently, he is studying data processing at BCS in London, alongside his day job, and he travels there when necessary. His sights are set on a master’s degree.

“Friends of mine have earned degrees while working, and they said I should ask my employer to let me spend some of my working hours studying. I got permission to spend some of my work time on certain modules.”

Finnish language studies await

Costa’s family consists of him, his Sri Lankan wife, and their five-year-old child. They retain strong links to the places they used to live in. His brother and parents live in Sri Lanka, and he and his co-workers in Estonia formed a tight-knit bunch that he still keeps in touch with.

His wife earned a master’s degree in international relations in Estonia, but in Finland she realized that finding work that matched her qualifications required speaking Finnish. That is why she planned on taking the language test required for citizenship at the end of the summer.

Costa is also starting to attend Finnish classes in the fall at the Vaasa adult education center.

“Citizenship is one goal, but first I have to learn the language. It demands more practice than my studies, so I need to start speaking it with the locals.”

Costa had not accrued vacation time by the summer, but he spent a weekend camping with his family and friends at the Toivolansaari campsite. He now knows the local landscape a little better.

Text and photo: Janne Luotola