The CEO Magazine Sri Lanka - November 2020 Flipbook PDF
The CEO Magazine Sri Lanka - November 2020
FLIP PDF 371.87MB
11/20 Cover Photography Jonathan's Studio *Interview Articles
CSR INITIATIVES OF FASHION BUG
LEADER 16 20 24
A round-up of inspiring news from around the globe
The Man of ‘WORDS’
FIONA JURIANSZ MUNASINGHE PRADEEP & MANIK AMIRTHANAYAGAM
DFCC CELEBRATES 65 YEARS OF OUTSTANDING SERVICE
WHO DO I HIRE FIRST?
WHY DO I ENCOURAGE MY BEST EMPLOYEES TO CONSIDER OUTSIDE JOBS
Marketer, Mom, Mentor and Multi-tasker
Envisioning The Future
40 8 TOXIC EMPLOYEES WHO RUIN GREAT COMPANIES
IN EVERY ISSUE 08 PUBLISHER’S NOTE 10 PUBLISHING PANEL 104 LAST WORD
Catch up on invest ideas and advice
11/20 lAVISH 60
NEWS Catch up on invest ideas and advice
SHAMEER RASOOLDEEN A Journey To Remember
FOUZUL HAMEED Quality: The Name of the Game
PESHALA WIJEWARDANA Going the Extra-mile
Catch up on invest ideas and advice
80 MAHEESHA RATNAYAKE
Resplendent To Its Core
84 DR. IRAIVAN K. THIYAGARAJAH Quality, Affordable Healthcare
live-tech 88 NEWS Catch up on invest ideas and advice
92 PRIYANTHA FERNANDEZ A Digital Drive
96 LAHIRU WICKRAMASINGHE Evoke International: A Digital Success Story For Over 12 Years
100 HEALTH TAKE AWAYS FOR THE WORKING ENTERPRENUER
The COVID-19 crisis will come on top of the pre-crisis challenges of the traditional Banking business model: revenue pressure and low profitability and increasing competition from shadow banks and new digital entrants. As businesses and individuals struggle through this crisis, the Banking system of the country has to play a crucial role in the mobilization and better allocation of funds. In light of this, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has imposed a number of measures to support borrowers with moratoriums and low interest working capital loans. Together with these measures, the CBSL has also provided flexibility to the commercial banks to enable them to withstand these moratoriums by allowing not to consider these as trigger for significant increase in credit risk and, therefore, not necessitating a change in classification, increase drawdowns on capital buffers and defer meeting minimum regulatory capital requirement The COVID-19 pandemic has induced a deep global economic crisis. Yet, in the middle of the financial turmoil over the past few months, banks were a source of resilience, pandemic crisis will also be a test to banks running digital transformation programs as digital interactions become the primary option for clients. On this issue we have the Banking veteran Mr. Sivakrishnarajah Renganathan, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, sharing his experience as a Banker for 39 years and the Bank’s responsibilities towards the people and businesses affected by the COVID-19, and the future of the country. He also explains how the demand for digital services grew exponentially during the pandemic period and how the Banking sector directly affects the economy of the country. He had held several key positions in the Bank and had led his team to successfully achieve the organizational goals. During the lockdown period, Commercial Bank not only helped its own customers, but the customers of other banks as well, especially by facilitating cash withdrawals by deploying mobile banking vehicles equipped with ATM machines and POS machines, which were operated in pre announced routes. We also have many stories in this issue from various companies that are bouncing back and thriving in the midst of the pandemic. Hope you will feel inspired and enjoy this issue.
Shobiya Clinton Publisher
NO. 05, CHARLES PLACE, COLOMBO 03
Publisher: SHOBIYA CLINTON Executive Director: SUJEEV VICTORIYA Contributing Institutions HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW MAGZTER BUSINESS HUB SHUTTERSTOCK RIU FINANCE INSIDER COLOMBO STOCK EXCHANGE ADA DERANA BBC NEWS BLOOMBERG
Editor KESHALA DIAS
Contributing Editor STEPHANIE NUGARA
Art Director ALOKE PERERA
Photographers ARANTHA SIRIMANNE JONATHAN’S STUDIO ARUNA UDAYA ALWIS SASSANDA LIYANAARACHCHI DILSHAN AYESHMANTHA
FOR SALES AND MARKETING CONTACT +94 776 699 947 All copy appearing on CEO MAGAZINE SRI LANKA is copyright. Re-production in whole or part is not permitted. All the opinions expressed are held solely by the contributors and are not endorsed by CEO MEDIA PVT LTD unless otherwise indicated. CEO MAGAZINE SRI LANKA is a property of CEO Media PVT LTD and not affiliated with any global publishing companies.
CSR INITIATIVES OF FASHION BUG With Director of Fashion Bug SHABIER SUBIAN
What does CSR mean to your company? We have grown over 25 years from a small store to a household brand. This journey would not have been possible without our staff, suppliers, and customers, and we believe that we need to give back in helping these communities to grow as well. Simultaneously, we believe that it is important that our employees feel respected, valued and feel a sense of belonging. The tangibility of the positive impacts of the company should be felt not only by the community but by the employees themselves through CSR. Our key social sustainability platform, Sisu Dirimaga ensures that all projects that focus on underprivileged students will stem from one platform.
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What are the challenges to implementing CSR projects? We conduct a series of Career Guidance Programs, through our Sisu Dirimaga platform. Currently, given the unfortunate spread of COVID-19, conducting our career guidance programs is no longer feasible as large groups of individuals and families, including children would have to interact. It would be irresponsible and counterintuitive for us to continue these programs as it would put the community at risk. As such, these career guidance programs have been temporarily suspended till the pandemic situation is more stabilized. Time is another factor that has to be taken into consideration when undertaking a CSR project. CSR projects require extensive planning and the allocation of resources in a sustainable manner. Certain projects require specific resources that are, at times, costly to the company. Following the completion of a project, it is important that necessary steps are taken to follow up with the communities targeted by the CSR projects. We have to ensure that the projects we undertake are not simple ‘touch-and-go’ projects for the community that we serve. What we do, has to have a sustainable and long term impact on the particular beneficiaries. This is why most of our projects are a series in multiple stages.
What would a more sustainable model look like? In order to facilitate positive impact on communities on a larger scale, we always look at partnering with a national cause or collaborating further with ministries such as the Ministry of Education. We aim to give back to the community on a long term basis and have a lasting impact on the community. Taking into account the ‘Roo Siththam’ all-island Art Competition, the progress of this event was assisted through partnering with the Department of Arts of the Ministry of Education. This gave us an opportunity to reach out to more schools and students, as well as to get the Educational officials involved in the project. Another example is when Fashion Bug partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health, where we sourced products such as soft toys and accessories that were made by in-house patients of the institute. This initiative had a huge impact on their mental well-being as arts and crafts is one of the therapy methods used at the NIMH. These items were sold in our outlets and the proceeds went to the patients themselves. The impact we were able to make was recognized by the then President Maithripala Sirisena, and Fashion Bug was rewarded with a special Award of Recognition for this project. Identifying the correct organization or institute to partner with, can give a boost to any CSR project. There will be avenues such as reaching the target community, logistics, and network that these partners can facilitate. Therefore, this will certainly have a better impact.
How do national policies support and complement CSR? Most local companies conduct very effective sustainability projects. But there are times when bottlenecks in the bureaucratic system become an obstacle to carry out these plans. When corporates set forth on community projects, it would be a great help if tax free systems and similar methodologies were in place with the bigger picture in mind, so that companies are encouraged to invest more towards uplifting the community. Easy access for documentation, processes and approvals within local governing bodies will also make it easy for organizations to activate projects faster.
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What are some of your company’s major CSR projects? The ‘Sisu Dirimaga’ arm is our key CSR platform through which we push many of our projects. The main objective through this project is to support education. One of the main events we conduct under this is the ‘Roo Siththam - Annual All Island Art Competition’. It was initiated in 2011, with the objective of identifying the creative talents of school children. It is dedicated to improving the education of students in Sri Lanka and is organized under the supervision of the Department of Arts of the Ministry of Education. A specific category for children with special needs was introduced in 2017, the entries of which are judged by teachers from the Ceylon School for the Deaf and Blind, Ratmalana. We also developed our own scholarship program as part of our signature CSR initiative. In addition, we conduct career guidance for Advanced level students in collaboration with the Provincial Education Offices. Advice on how to get through A-level exams effectively, time management, planning their future, information on new industries, strategic planning, areas of risk and so on are often addressed during these career guidance programs. We aim to reach over 100,000 students through this project. We also conducted regional teacher training programs. The last, which was held in the Matara educational division, was attended by over 250 teachers representing 101 schools. The program was used to advise teachers on training methods for children, how to build healthy student-teacher relationships, counselling, work life balance and the importance of the role played by a teacher. The impact of social media on education was yet another CSR initiative undertaken by Fashion Bug, where we addressed this topic at schools in Kotahena. With the rise in the use of the internet for educational
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purposes, the exposure of students to the digital world has both its advantages and disadvantages. The program addressed the safe use of mobile phones, responsible usage of social media and the productive use of educational apps to ensure that students were educated and aware of the potential threats that can be encountered on the world wide web. Another successful CSR project that was undertaken by Fashion Bug was the sponsoring of over 350 varieties of plants inclusive of vegetables, medicinal plants, ornamental plants, and flowers to facilitate the development of a garden at Sunethra Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Pepiliyana. This ‘1st School Green Garden Project’ also involved construction of walkways and landscaping. This initiative was motivated by the need to set an example and to encourage the younger generation to engage in conservation efforts. The project is also a part of one of the projects led by the Ministry of Education under the NCFSLM-BPP-1(2) programme. Fashion Bug again assisted the students of Sunethra Devi Balika Vidyalaya through the donation of computers and peripherals to the school. Through ‘Sisu Dirimaga’, we place much importance on assisting students and the younger generation through many such initiatives. Furthermore, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Fashion Bug, we are also renovating and refurbishing a multitude of hospital wards at different hospitals that have been in much need of attention. Some wards that have so far been completed are the OPD of the Badalkumbura Base Hospital in Monaragala, the maternity ward of the Teaching Unit at Ragama Hospital, Ward No. 25 of the District Hospital in Matara and many others. We continued the commemoration of our 25th anniversary by taking on and completing the task of renovating and furnishing Ward No. 5 of the Base Hospital in Diyatalawa as well.
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SHOWCASING THE INNOVATORS AND CHANGE MAKERS TO EXPLORE TODAY’S WORLD
SRI LANKA TO ENSURE NO NATION DOMINATES INDIAN OCEAN: GOTABAYA RAJAPAKSA President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said that his country is against any country dominating the Indian Ocean and that it would stay neutral. “As a strategically placed country in the Indian Ocean, it is our priority to ensure that the Indian Ocean is maintained as a zone of peace where no country could gain advantage over any other,” he said in a pre-recorded speech to the annual high-level session of the General Assembly.
eader news TRUMP DEMANDS A PLAN TO WITHDRAW U.S. TROOPS FROM SOMALIA President Donald Trump has told top advisers he wants to withdraw U.S. troops from Somalia, according to people familiar with the matter, allowing him to make good on campaign pledges to bring soldiers home even though the country remains beset by insurgents linked to al-Qaeda. The Pentagon has begun drafting plans for the President, and discussions have involved National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley, according to the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. The U.S. has 650 to 800 troops in Somalia, according to the U.S. Africa Command, including special forces that are helping train Somalia’s Army. All or almost all were sent during Trump’s presidency.
PHILIPPINES’ DUTERTE WANTS SOLDIERS TO GET COVID VACCINE FIRST President Rodrigo Duterte said he wants the poor, soldiers and police officers to receive the first shots of the coronavirus vaccine once available. “I need my soldiers and policemen healthy. They are really vital to the security of the state,” Duterte said in an address. Vaccines from China and Russia will be prioritized, he said, adding that Moscow has expressed intention to set up a pharmaceutical plant in the Philippines. The Philippines, which has the most infections in Southeast Asia at nearly 347,000, has the funds to buy the vaccine, Duterte said. Its capital region has brought down active coronavirus cases to 7,800 from 20,000, while Cebu City has managed to keep its case count down after government disallowed patients to quarantine at home, virus task force Chief, Carlito Galvez said in the same briefing.
BIDEN SAYS CORONAVIRUS VACCINE MUST BE 'FREELY AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE' Former Vice President Joe Biden outlined his plan to address the coronavirus pandemic, including providing free vaccines to all Americans, as he began delivering his closing argument to voters. "Once we have a safe and effective vaccine, it has to be free to everyone, whether or not you're insured," the Democratic presidential nominee said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware. He said that if elected, he would direct the Federal government to "bulk-purchase as many doses as necessary of the COVID-19 vaccine so we can provide it free to those who are uninsured, underinsured or Medicaid-eligible." Eleven days from Election Day, Biden homed in on his four main priorities to combat the pandemic. In addition to distributing a free vaccine, he said, he would ask governors to mandate masks in their states, put a national testing plan in place and increase the production and distribution of personal protective equipment. In each section of his speech, a screen behind him provided visuals to illustrate his argument. As he spoke about mandating masks, for example, pictures of people wearing masks appeared onscreen.
DEMAND TO RESTORE ARTICLE 370 IN J&K IS INSULT TO BIHAR : PM MODI Prime Minister Narendra Modi said those demanding restoration of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir were dishonouring the sacrifices made by soldiers from Bihar who died defending India’s border in the Galwan valley. “People were waiting for the abrogation of Article 370 for a long time. The NDA government abrogated Article 370. These people say they would restore Article 370 if they return to power. After saying this they dare to ask for votes from Bihar. Is this not an insult of Bihar,” said Modi at Sasaram, in his first physical campaign in Bihar for the assembly polls. Modi, who addressed election meetings also at Gaya and Bhagalpur, came out strongly in support of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a show of solidarity aimed at ending speculations over a BJP-Janata Dal (U) rift. Kumar was present at Modi’s Sasaram election meeting.
The Man of
WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE ARUNA UDAYA ALWIS
DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
WORDS MAKE SENTENCES AND SENTENCES MAKE LANGUAGES, MAKING COMMUNICATION POSSIBLE, WHICH DIFFERENTIATES, BETWEEN US AND ALL OTHER LIVING CREATURES. WORDS ADVERTISING HAS STRIVED TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF BRANDS WITH CONSUMERS. THE MAN AT WORDS, ROHAN RAJARATNAM, ACTUALLY BEGAN HIS CAREER IN THE FIELD OF ACCOUNTING, FAILING IN HIS ATTEMPT TO BECOME A CHARTERED ACCOUNTANT. HIS DECISION TO BUILD ON HIS FAILURE HAS NOW MADE HIM A RESPECTED ADVERTISING INDUSTRY PERSONALITY WITH OVER 30 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE.
laborating on his mesmerising journey, the Managing Director of WORDS stated, “Though a tad late in the day, it suddenly dawned on me that I would rather not be a ‘bean counter’ but would prefer to dabble in Marketing which was a special subject in my Bachelor of Commerce degree. So, I returned in 1986, to the country of my birth which had always tugged at my heart strings right through my early years of learning in India and joined the then Grant, Kenyon & Eckhardt as a trainee Account Executive, working for the ‘Father of Advertising in Sri Lanka’ Deshabandu Reggie Candappa. I worked on a number of prestigious accounts among which was Brown & Co. with brands such as Massey Ferguson, Exide Batteries, Makita Power Tools and Canon with such ‘Gentlemen of Marketing’ as Srilal Perera, Monty Candappa, Eksith Fernando and Ian Dias Abeysinghe, all outstanding gentlemen of fine calibre and astute acumen whose immense experience shaped me in my formative years. Grants then aligned with an international agency network and became Grant, Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon and Eckhardt in the late eighties. “Grant Bozell as it was subsequently known, gave me the opportunity to work with multinational corporates such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Singer
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among many others. It was at this juncture that stalwarts such as Hemaka Amarasuriya and Gamani Abeysuriya from Singer, Shanthi Nadaraja from Coke and Rajiv Deraniyagala and Graham Campbell at Nestlé played a pivotal role in shaping and molding who I was and would be in the field of Marketing Communication. In 1990, Bozell New York welcomed Sandya Salgado a colleague of mine and me to a training programme for a select group of representatives from around the world, driving me to higher levels in this profession of Advertising. In the mid-nineties, Grants re-aligned itself with the world’s largest Advertising network, McCann Erickson and became Grant McCann Erickson and 1994 saw me in Manila at the Asian Institute of Management undergoing a vigorous course in Management in Marketing Communications. The tie up with McCann also brought the opportunity for me to work in their Sydney offices from 1997-1998, initially on Nestlé and then as Worldwide Account Director on their Reckitt & Colman business from which I was able to gain much experience and learning that has stood the test of time. In July 1999, we won the newly liveried SriLankan Airlines Account and in July 2000, I took up the challenge of handling the Account as the Worldwide Account Director while being on the Board of Management, which I did till I left Grant McCann in 2003.”
Rohan Rajaratnam | LEADER
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LEADER | Rohan Rajaratnam
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Rohan Rajaratnam | LEADER
A short spell with the Agency Triad Advertising came next when he had accepted Dilith Jayaweera and Varuni Amunugama’s invitation to join the then 10-year-old Agency, followed by three years as Managing Director of Minds FCB. Later, in March 2009, he had begun his own Advertising Agency ‘WORDS’. He further elaborated, “When I joined Advertising, we had only one radio station, Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation and two television stations, Rupavahini and ITN. You can imagine the time and skill required to plan schedules with these media channels. It was a walk in the park, compared to today. We only had to deal with ANCL or the Upali group, mainly, in terms of Print Media. The experience gained at the ground level over the years and the difficulty with which we had to carry out our work with no computers and no software based presentations, makes today a cakewalk comparatively and gives me the confidence that anything and everything is possible if you have the right attitude.” Speaking about the global communication trends, Rohan explained that the only global trend that we need to emulate is the adoption of technology, processes and best practices which must be done sooner than later. He said that in terms of communication ideas, it is our inborn ability to vocally and visually interact and impact with other human beings and that is best done when telling the truth in the most convincing and empathetically relevant manner that we know would stimulate the receiver. On the topic of the challenges faced by the Advertising industry in Sri Lanka, the respected industry personality stated, “The first and foremost challenge is the lack of trust and understanding among the fraternity. As an industry, we need to come together to resolve key issues without being suspicious of each other’s motives. There are a number of pressing issues that need to be discussed, such as a Code of Conduct, a Code of Ethics, an industry wide minimum fee Rate Card, Rules & Regulations with regards to Pitches, Intellectual Property Rights in advertising etc. These are from a macro perspective but given the aftermath of the pandemic there are specific issues also that need to be addressed such as legislative initiatives that need to be passed into law that creates a legal platform for representation, discussion, implementation and monitoring, for an industry that is so critical to the economic development of the country”. In his assessment of Digital Advertising, Rohan mentioned that digital is only a channel or medium for communication to pass through – it is only a means to an end. “As long as we remember that, when developing communication, it will be an effective tool”. Of the evolution of the Sri Lankan Advertising industry and where it stands with that of the region and beyond, Rohan shared an unusual perspective. “Mainstream movies are not made with a specific target in mind, not even Disney targets children. It is targeted at a conceptual mind set. So, in my opinion if the local industry is successfully communicating with
the conceptual target audience it planned to reach, then we are as good as anything that is being done globally. It is not fair to compare advertising between markets to some extent because it is a case of ‘each to its own’. Our customs and traditions are different, our habits and attitudes are different, our choice of colours is different, and so is our advertising. We would not be aroused by Japanese or Chinese advertising as they would not be by ours. So, each to their own is my opinion, as long as it is effective”. You need to have local insights and local knowledge and garner the power of the local dialects to effectively communicate to a local audience. When questioned about the effects of Advertising on the economy, Rohan replied, “If, as Peter F Drucker says in his Journal of Marketing in 1958, Marketing is the engine for economic growth and development, then I would opine that Advertising is the spark plug that makes that engine work. Especially in times of a recession or depression, Advertising will drive demand which in turn will drive supply and slowly but surely turn the vital economic wheel, which sustains life as we know it. It is imperative that marketers understand the need to shy away from that knee jerk reaction to cut advertising to improve the bottom line on the short haul during times of stress and forge ahead with driving demand so that the economy does not falter at any time. The ‘show must go on’ whatever be the circumstances.” WORDS won the first Gold EFFIE in Sri Lanka for ‘Trail’ a Social Responsibility campaign to raise funds for the construction of the first cancer facility in the North of the country in the immediate aftermath of the civil war. WORDS has also won EFFIES for their two long standing and clients ‘Pizza Hut’ and ‘Sampath Bank’ both of whom have been with WORDS for over a decade. However, Rohan believes that awards are not an essential or a critical part of the life of an Agency, as Client budgets should be spent to deliver on the marketing objectives the client has defined for the brand. ROI in this case stands for a “Return on Ideas”, ideas that work for the Client and their brands. If as a consequence of fulfilling that objective, the Agency wins an award, that would be great. On the other hand, award winning work does not automatically guarantee effectiveness in the marketplace. “We have not won or lost business as a direct result of having won or lost at the awards. Awards have come to stay in every industry but to me they are not a measure of the quality of the product or service offered nor a direct reflection of the health of the brand and are now more a business venture than a fair determination of the standards of that specific industry,” Rohan added. As the Managing Director of WORDS, Rohan will steer the organisation, to continue to be a strategic communications’ solutions company that is nimble and potent, capable of building relationships between Agency and Client and Brands and Consumers, built on truth and trust and concepts that endear and endure.
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MARKETER, MOM, MENTOR AND MULTI-TASKER WORDS STEPHANIE NUGARA
CAPTURE & DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
THE GOLD AWARD WINNER IN MARKETING AT THE 2017 TOP 50 PROFESSIONAL & CAREER WOMEN AWARDS, FIONA JURIANSZ MUNASINGHE IS ONE OF THE LEADING FEMALE PROFESSIONALS OF THE SRI LANKAN CORPORATE WORLD. SHE CARRIES OUT HER RESPONSIBILITIES AT HOME, AS WELL AS AT HEMAS MANUFACTURING (PVT) LTD AS DIRECTOR OF MARKETING.
I began my career at Hemas Manufacturing as a Management Trainee 16 years ago. I quickly progressed to Assistant Brand Manager and then to Brand Manager, handling the second largest brand in the company within two years of joining the Company.
From Hemas, which is a fast-paced local company that works with some much-loved local brands that take multinational brands head on, I moved to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer Healthcare as Senior Brand Manager. Here, I handled Panadol, which was and is one of the most trusted and popular brands in the country. After a while my role expanded to handle the entire Analgesics portfolio, which was the largest contributor to the company’s bottom-line.
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LEADER | Fiona Juriansz Munasinghe
After three plus years at GSK, I moved back to Hemas as a Marketing Manager to overlook the Oral Care, Laundry and Personal Wash categories. Skincare was added to my portfolio and after 3 years I was designated as General Manager Marketing. Effective from April 2018, I was promoted to Director - Marketing, overseeing the marketing functions at Hemas FMCG.” Speaking of how she maintains a healthy balance between the personal and professional aspects of her life, Fiona explained, “I am fortunate that I work at a company that respects that people have multiple dimensions to their lives. When I work, I give it my 100%, and when I leave office, I try to avoid bringing work home with me whenever possible. When my children are up, I mentally try to switch off from work mode, and give them and my family my undivided attention. Any work that I do at home I do late in the night once the children are asleep or early morning before they wake up. I also try to maintain discipline in terms of scheduling to avoid long, late evening meetings that can unnecessarily interfere with my and team members’ personal lives and commitments outside of work. I have to keep telling myself that I can’t do everything and accept trusted help whenever possible. It’s not easy, and at times it means giving up professional commitments such as cocktails and other social events or leaving early, but this is a choice that I consciously make.” When asked to describe the most educational moment in career journey, Fiona responded, “It’s a tough question as every day has its challenges and learnings. Moving from a local company to a multinational company with stringent standards and dealing with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and multiple stakeholders was a big move that took me awhile to adjust to.” Describing the makings of an effective marketing team, Fiona stated, “Number one, I would say is consumer centricity; Marketers need to have a good feel for their consumers. Marketers must work with diverse stakeholders so having great communication and teamworking skills is a must. Being good project managers and being able to share credit is also important. Essentially good Marketers need to have a diverse skill set as they must work with consumers, multiple stakeholders as well as have a good understanding on their financials and how the business works to be effective.” On the topic of the most productive steps a marketing professional can take when it comes to crisis management, Fiona advised, “I think the most important thing in any crisis is to be flexible. One has to have a good sense of the pulse of consumers and where consumer sentiment is going to settle going forward. I feel Marketers will be required to reevaluate demand based on changed consumer sentiments
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and understanding consumer sentiments and evaluating the best solutions to address the issues at hand. Marketers will also need to re-evaluate their marketing mix to cater to the changed context and quickly change gears. Strategy will need to be re-visited with the changed context in mind. Marketers will also need to relook at how they spend their marketing investments to get the best bang for their buck and redirected in line with the heightened priorities brought about by the crisis.” “I think the lockdown period was a good forced trial of the use of digital for many people. Some of the usage has understandably gone down vs the period when people were in lockdown with limited access to other people, entertainment and shops. With busier lives, there will be a growth, especially with the youth, in mobile phone usage for entertainment and engaging with others as well as increased online purchasing as infrastructure gets better (delivery, cash on delivery etc.). This will affect Marketers as this medium will require much more real time content, responsiveness and higher levels of experimenting. Marketers will need to gear up to more content, faster response time and deal with consumer complaints that can potentially come into the public domain within a very short period”, said Fiona voicing her opinion on how the sudden growth in the use of digital by consumers will impact the future of Marketing. The younger generations, Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are more concerned about the sustainability of the products they use rather than exclusivity and price tags. This trend has the potential to make a significant impact on the Marketing industry, as Fiona confirmed. According to the Director - “This has significant implications for the Marketing industry. However, this depends on the product category as many categories may be lower priority and more price sensitive – often the stated intent does not translate into actual purchase. Having said that, this is the wider direction where many products will go towards as the impact of stress on the environment actively affects our lives. This is something that Marketers and product development teams need to proactively work on to continuously innovate in these lines. Brands that act proactively and with genuine intent can connect better with the sustainability concerned consumers (irrespective of age). I personally feel that manufacturers and all citizens of this planet have a responsibility to do their part to ensure we minimize our footprint on the planet.”
Fiona Juriansz Munasinghe | LEADER
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ENVISIONING THE FUTURE WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE & DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
MANY BELIEVE THAT FAMILIES TEND TO SPLIT UP WHEN RUNNING A FAMILY BUSINESS. HOWEVER, PRADEEP AMIRTHANAYAGAM AND HIS SON MANIK HAVE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE. THEY BELIEVE THAT FAMILY IS WHAT DRIVES THE SUCCESS OF HOLMES POLLARD & STOTT. PRADEEP IS THE CHAIRMAN AND MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE 30-YEAR-OLD AGENCY, WHILE MANIK IS ITS GENERAL MANAGER. HOLMES POLLARD & STOTT IS AN AWARD-WINNING ADVERTISING AGENCY WITH A STRONG PORTFOLIO OF CLIENTS DRAWN FROM ACROSS THE CORPORATE SPECTRUM.
radeep – with a career spanning 35 years in the industry – is the main force that drives the Agency forward. Respected for his business acumen, he is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) and an Associate of Trinity College London (UK). He has served as a Director of the 4As (Accredited Advertising Agencies Association). He was also active in the Rotary movement, becoming the 50th President of the Rotary Club of Colombo West, and being awarded Rotarian of the Year 2012. Pradeep is also a Media icon, and presented the news on both state TV and radio. He was an interviewer and cricket commentator. He also has the distinction of having been trained at Bush House – the headquarters of the BBC in London – and was a CNN correspondent for Sri Lanka. The eldest son of Pradeep, Manik brings dynamism into all aspects of operation. He plays a vital role in the Agency’s creative strategy and future direction. He also works closely with the client service, media and production teams. He aims to offer clients the most effective solutions in an industry that is constantly evolving. He sees innovation as the key to the industry’s future outlook.
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Manik has valuable exposure to the global Ad scene as he regularly attends international Ad festivals. He has also successfully completed several globally-reputed Advertising programs ranging from Cannes Lions to Ogilvy Consulting UK, Ascential and WARC (World Advertising Research Center). These have given him valuable insights into how the Agency can move forward. Manik believes in unleashing the full potential of clients. His hands-on approach to every campaign undertaken ensures its success. He has honed his strategic skills over the years, and has a good understanding of what makes brands work. Describing what it’s like to work with family, Pradeep stated that ‘family at home’ and ‘family at office’ should be differentiated, and clear lines of communication should be maintained so that the relationship doesn’t suffer in any way. “I’m quite aware of what I should do to ensure family harmony as I have seen families split up in family businesses.”
Holmes Pollard & Stott | LEADER
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LEADER | Holmes Pollard & Stott
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Holmes Pollard & Stott | LEADER
When questioned about the same matter, Manik replied, “Though people assume that it’s easy to work for family, this isn’t quite the case. In fact, it is often more challenging as one needs to balance the personal relationship with professional responsibilities. As the son of a father who has achieved much in the fields of Media and Advertising, I find that the bar is set high. However, I strive to carve my own path and pursue my own identity.” Pradeep stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy professional and personal relationship. He said, “I believe that once you leave office, work shouldn’t be discussed. Official matters should be discussed in office and the work done accordingly, and at home a normal family relationship should be maintained.” Manik stated that all relationships – personal and professional – are built upon clear communication. “That is all that matters.” According to Pradeep, the agency has benefitted from Manik’s entry to the business. He said, “Manik has been able to break through some of the old ways of doing things. He has brought fresh perspectives to the business. He has also made sure that the company spends time and resources on Digital Advertising. He believes in leveraging digital advances towards his strategic creativity.” Manik added that they have created a synergy that works; this combines experience with youth, tradition with new perspectives, and prudence with innovative strategy. “These I believe are the ideal mix for any great partnership.”
Pradeep stated that a valuable lesson he learnt from his son was the urgency to get things done without delay. He added that being around children inspires and makes him want to do better. Manik too has learnt valuable lessons from his father: “His qualities that have influenced me the most are patience and diplomacy. I have learnt that these two traits are imperative to successfully manage people.” Every organization has its strengths and weaknesses. Both father and son asserted that Holmes Pollard & Stott’s greatest strength is its people. “We are now 30-years-old, and have at least five employees who have been with us for 25 years,” Pradeep said. “They are loyal and hardworking, and they breed the organization. They ensure that newcomers are nurtured and given every opportunity to grow.” He added that the Agency also sends people overseas to allow them to be exposed to what’s happening in the world. “At least three employees are sent for international training, because we feel that they need to be kept up to date – they need to sharpen their skills and be aware of what’s happening in the industry.” Manik described their people as the greatest asset. He stated, “We are made-up of a truly diverse team whose creative ideas, when bounced off each other, result in something unique.” With regard to the future of Media and Advertising agencies in Sri Lanka, Pradeep said that the future is uncertain due to the prevailing situation. He, however, stressed that if the industry stands united, all could succeed and prosper.
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Who Do I Hire First | LEADER
rowing a team is an important (and intimidating) step for a startup. And when money is tight, the pressure is on to get every hire right.
Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, who’s known as the king of hedge funds, is famous for saying, “Hire right, because the penalties of hiring wrong are huge." These are obvious words from a brilliant man. But the problem is, there’s no script for hiring “right” when you’re in startup mode. You have a hundred different needs but can afford only a handful of positions to do the work. So before you begin, do yourself a favor and lower your expectations. You don’t need to make many hires all at once, and you don’t have to fill hyperspecific roles in your company. Rather, you just need to find the right types of people who will best support early growth. What are the right types? To find the answer, look at your own biggest weak-nesses. Where are your blind spots? What is your Achilles’ heel, the thing that could have a crippling effect on early-stage growth? When you know the answer, you’ll know your hiring initiatives.
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LEADER | Who Do I Hire First
In my experience, startup founders tend to be weakest in storytelling, industry expertise, and product development. If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to focus on hiring at least one of the following people: a visionary to drive your marketing, an industry leader whose knowledge will help you accelerate, and a technical wunderkind who can transform your product. Don’t worry about roles and responsibilities; at this stage, you’re focusing on creating a well-rounded team…even if it’s you and one or two other people. Now that you’ve identified the type of person you need to hire, you’ll need to filter for who’s the best fit. Keep in mind that the survival and ultimate growth of your business depends much more on values than skills. Early-stage companies need a shared vision, mission, and purpose. You don’t need everyone to agree, but you do need trust and alignment. Ask early candidates why they value the business, and— most important—how they would contribute to and further improve the culture. This way, you can avoid groupthink or too much homogeneity, both of which hinder startups. If you can’t afford to fill all the gaps, you can also get creative with your resources. Despite what many people believe, successful growth is not dependent on building a big team filled with skilled employees.
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It’s entirely possible to find quality contractors who are both readily available and adaptable to almost any business. It’s a benefit I’ve seen work time and time again for startups. Here’s how I approached it: When I was building Pen Name Consulting, where we blend strategy and content with analytics, user experience, and data to grow our clients’ businesses, I knew I needed help with the analytics and user optimization part of the business. Those were my weak points. So for my first hire, I pried my brother Jordan away from his datadriven life at Deloitte and brought him aboard at Pen Name. He had the skills I didn’t, and I trusted him to share my vision. For two years, we were the only fulltime staff. We outsourced the rest of the work until we had enough growth to add to our team. What’s next for you…and, for that matter, for us? Don’t worry about it now. You’re not hiring the team that will necessarily be in place in five years. The staff that gets you from zero to $1 million likely won’t be the same staff that takes you to $50 million—and that’s OK. A long-term vision is important, but shortterm focus is what you need to survive and advance.
Who Do I Hire First | LEADER
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Why I Encourage My Best Employees to Consider Outside Job Offers | LEADER
My Best Employees to Consider
Outside Job Offers
very day we get new reminders of just how tough the war for talent can be. It isn’t enough to attract the greatest employees — you have to retain them. That’s become a bigger challenge with “job hopping” on the rise. One survey found that 64% of workers, and 75% of those under the age of 34, believe frequently switching jobs will benefit their careers. Why, then, would I actively encourage even my best employees to pursue outside job offers? The answer is simple, if counterintuitive: It helps the business succeed. In my last job, as senior director at HubSpot, and now as CMO of G2 Crowd, I’ve not only encouraged my employees to look elsewhere but also told them that I keep an eye out for potential new jobs for myself as well. Ironically, all this helps me win — and quite often keep — terrific employees. Here’s why. EMPLOYEES WANT DEVELOPMENT, NOT LIP SERVICE. Today’s employees, especially Millennials, “want jobs to be development opportunities,” Gallup explains. 87% of Millennials and 69% of non-Millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important. But many businesses are failing on this front. Less than half the Millennials surveyed by Gallup strongly agreed that they’d had opportunities to learn and grow in the previous year. And only one-third said their most recent learning opportunity was “well worth” their time. So while almost every company promises to develop its employees, all too often that’s just lip service. And it’s up to managers to ensure their companies live up to the promises of professional development. As executive coach Monique Valcour wrote in HBR, the “manager-employee dyad is the new building block of learning and development in firms.” When I make clear to my employees that I want them to consider all options for their careers, they see that I’m genuinely committed to helping them learn and grow. They know it’s not lip service; I care about their development. If I think they’ve gotten to the top of their learning curve on my team, and I can’t figure
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LEADER | Why I Encourage My Best Employees to Consider Outside Job Offers
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Why I Encourage My Best Employees to Consider Outside Job Offers | LEADER
out a way to help them grow, I will support their efforts to get a job somewhere else.
about the brand. If they feel good about me, they’ll encourage great people to come work for me.
As research has found, employees often quit not because of their company but because of their manager. They stay for a manager they believe in — one who wants to help them achieve their goals. I’ve had employees tell me they chose to come work for me, and chose to stay, because of that commitment.
This is why, once it’s become clear that there’s no way I can keep them, I offer advice to help my staff negotiate the best deal they can get at their new employer. Every employee is unique. So it’s true that not everyone is entirely replaceable. But when someone leaves, it is an opportunity for me to bring in someone else with different strengths and new things to offer the team.
OPENNESS ALLOWS CONVERSATIONS TO THRIVE. By encouraging my employees to consider outside possibilities and sharing my stories with them, I foster a culture of openness in our communication. When they get outside offers, that communication makes a big difference. As LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman wrote in HBR, employees often feel they can’t speak honestly with their managers about their career goals “because of the reasonable belief that doing so is risky and career-limiting if the employee’s aspirations do not perfectly match up with the manager’s existing views and time horizons.” So they don’t share information about outside offers until they’ve gone “far down the road” with the potential new employer. By showing my team that I want to support them either way, I am creating a culture in which my employees feel comfortable sharing every career step with me. This open dialog gives me time and opportunity to find a way to keep them. Often, there’s something I can do — such as get them a new experience or project, add to their responsibilities, or negotiate a raise. I’ve found that most employees don’t realize how much flexibility a company has when it comes to finding a way to retain high-performing talent. This process also makes them feel respected. As Christine Porath and Tony Schwartz found in a survey, half of employees don’t feel respected by their bosses. Those who do are more likely to stay. THERE ARE BENEFITS TO THEIR LEAVING. This may be the most counterintuitive point of all. But when great employees decide to leave on good terms, there can be an upside for the company. Out in the world, they’ll be in a powerful position to speak honestly about their experiences. If they leave our company feeling good about us, they’ll speak positively
THEY’RE MORE LIKELY TO RETURN. Not every new venture works out. Some employees leave to try their hand at startups, which have a high failure rate. Others work at new companies only to find that the job isn’t what they expected, or that the culture isn’t the right fit. So these great employees may be looking for work again someday — and you want to be at the top of their list. These so-called boomerang employees are on the rise, and serve as an “increasingly valuable source of talent,” HBR has noted. So a goodbye party for an employee may turn out to have been a “farewell for now.” If you can help them feel that the place they’re leaving is something of a work “home,” they just might return. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to handle employee relationships. People have different styles and different comfort zones for communication. And businesses have different hiring and recruiting strategies depending on their company cultures. No matter what I do, some employees will choose to be more secretive and to keep their outside opportunities closer to the vest. That’s OK. As long as I make clear that my door is open, and that while they’re wanted here we won’t try to trap them here, we build a culture of employee empowerment. And no matter where they end up next, if they become hiring managers, I want them to have learned valuable lessons about giving their own employees this same freedom and encouragement. This is how we build stronger work cultures.
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WHO RUIN GREAT COMPANIES
SOMETIMES THE GREATER "EVIL" LIES JUST BENEATH THE SURFACE.
ddly enough, it isn't the truly terrible employees who cause the real problems. Whether clearly incompetent or unbelievably lazy, they're easy to spot. So although it's never fun to fire anyone, at least you know there's a problem--and you can quickly let the person go and move on. The real problems are caused by employees who appear to be doing a satisfactory job but meanwhile act like what a friend once called an "insidious cancer," slowly destroying other employees' performance, attitude, and morale--and with it, your business.
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LEADER | Toxic Employees
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Toxic Employees | LEADER
Here are eight destructive qualities of employees you absolutely must address--or, worst case, need to let go:
THEY LEAD THE MEETING AFTER THE MEETING. You have a meeting. Issues are raised. Concerns are shared. Decisions are made. Everyone in attendance fully supports those decisions. Things are going to happen. Then someone holds the “meeting after the meeting.” Now she talks about issues she didn’t share earlier with the group. Now he disagrees with the decisions made. And sometimes they even say to their teams, “Look, I think this is a terrible idea, but we’ve been told to do it, so I guess we need to give it a shot.” And now, what was going to happen never will. Waiting until after a meeting to say, “I’m not going to support that,” is like saying, “I’ll agree to anything, but that doesn’t mean I’ll actually do it. I’ll even work against it.” Those people need to work somewhere else.
THEY ACT AS IF THEY’VE ALREADY PAID THEIR DUES. An employee did great things last year, last month, or even yesterday. You’re appreciative. You’re grateful. Still, today is a new day. Dues aren’t paid. Dues get paid. The only real measure of any employee’s value is the tangible contribution he or she makes on a daily basis. Saying, “I’ve paid my dues,” is like saying, “I no longer need to work as hard.” And suddenly, before you know it, other employees start to feel they’ve earned the right to coast too.
THEY SAY, “THAT’S NOT MY JOB.” The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done. Even if that means a manager has to help load a truck or a machinist needs to clean up a solvent spill; or the accounting staff needs to hit the shop floor to help complete a rush order; or a CEO needs to man a customer service line during a product crisis. (You get the idea.) Any task an employee is asked to do--as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal, and it’s “below” his or her current position--is a task an employee should be willing to do. (Great employees notice problems and jump in without being asked.) Saying, “It’s not my job,” says, “I care only about me.” That attitude quickly destroys overall performance because it quickly turns what might have been a cohesive team into a dysfunctional group of individuals.
THEY THINK EXPERIENCE IS A TANGIBLE COMMODITY. Experience is definitely important, but experience that doesn’t translate into better skills, better performance, and greater achievement is worthless. Experience that just “is” is a waste. Example: A colleague once said to younger supervisors, “My role is to be a resource.” Great, but then he sat in his office all day waiting for us to come by so he could dispense his pearls of wisdom. Of course, none of us did stop by--we were all busy thinking, “I respect your experience, but I wish your role was to do your job.” How many years you’ve put in pales in comparison with how many things you’ve done. Saying, “I have more experience,” is like saying, “I don’t need to justify my decisions or actions.” Experience (or position) should never win an argument. Wisdom, logic, and judgment should always win--regardless of in whom those qualities are found.
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LEADER | Toxic Employees
THEY LOVE GOSSIP. Before a meeting, some of us were talking about supervisors in another department when our new boss looked up and said, “Stop. From now on we will never say anything bad about anyone unless they are actually in the room. Period.” Until then, I never thought of gossip as a part of a company’s culture--gossip just was. We all did it. And it sucked--especially because being the focus of gossip sucked. (And in time, I realized people who gossip suck too.) If an employee has talked to more than one person about something Martha is doing, wouldn’t everyone be better off if he stepped up and actually talked to Martha about it? And if it’s “not his place” to talk to Martha, it’s definitely not his place to talk about Martha. Saying, “Did you hear what he did?” is like saying, “I have nothing better to do than talk about other people.” Not only do employees who create a culture of gossip waste time better spent on productive conversations, but they cause other people to respect their coworkers a little less--and anything that diminishes the dignity or respect of any employee should never be tolerated.
THEY RUSH TO GRAB THE GLORY ... OK, maybe he did do nearly all the work. Maybe he did overcome almost every obstacle. Maybe, without him, that highperformance team would have been anything but. But probably not. Nothing important is ever accomplished alone, even if some people love to act like it. A good employee and good team player shares the glory. He credits others. He praises. He appreciates. He lets others shine. That’s especially true for an employee in a leadership position--he celebrates the accomplishments of others secure in the knowledge that their success reflects well on him, too. Saying, “I did all the work,” or “It was all my idea,” is like saying, “The world revolves around me, and I need everyone to know it.” And even if other people don’t adopt the same philosophy, they resent having to fight for recognition that is rightfully theirs.
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THEY USE PEER PRESSURE TO HOLD OTHERS BACK. The new employee works hard. She works long hours. She’s hitting targets and exceeding expectations. She rocks. And she eventually hears, from a more “experienced” employee, “You’re working too hard and making the rest of us look bad.” Where comparisons are concerned, a great employee doesn’t compare herself with others--she compares herself with herself. She wants to “win” that comparison by improving and doing better today than she did yesterday. Poor employees don’t want to do more; they want others to do less. They don’t want to win. They just want others to make sure they don’t lose. Saying, “You’re working too hard,” is like saying, “No one should work hard, because I don’t want to work hard.” And pretty soon very few people do--and the ones who keep trying get shunned for a quality you need every employee to possess.
... AND THEY RUSH TO THROW OTHERS UNDER THE BUS. A vendor complains. A customer feels shortchanged. A co-worker gets mad. No matter what has happened, it’s someone else’s fault. Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They willingly accept the criticism or abuse, because they know they can handle it (and they know that maybe the person actually at fault cannot). Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship. Few acts are more selfish than saying, “It wasn’t me,” especially when, at least in part, it was. Saying, “You’ll have to talk to Martha,” is like saying, “We’re not all in this together.” At the best companies, everyone is in it together. Those people need to work somewhere else.
Toxic Employees | LEADER
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65 YEARS OF
DFCC Bank, the Bank for Everyone, celebrated 65 years of outstanding service to the Sri Lankan community and the country’s economy. Incorporated in 1955 under an Act of Parliament, DFCC Bank is one of the oldest development banks in Asia and the first Bank to be listed on the Colombo Brokers’ Association, predecessor of the Colombo Stock Exchange. Commenting on the milestone of 65 years, Lakshman Silva, the Chief Executive Officer of DFCC Bank stated, “Over the years, DFCC has evolved, diversified and grown to meet the changing needs of Sri Lanka’s resurgent economy, our customers, institutions and the people. DFCC would have never reached this position in such a competitive space without the trust placed in us by our customers, backed by the support of our loyal staff. DFCC has always been, and will continue to be focused on developing individuals and businesses to grow through innovative and responsible financial solutions, which will lead to sustainable progress for all. “As we strive in becoming the most customer centric digitally enabled bank we will continue to serve our customers with the best customer service and a plethora of financial products from time to time making everyday banking a more convenient and friendly experience.” The Bank has been a true pioneer, daring to lead the development of key sectors such as small and medium enterprises, resort hotels, mobile telecommunication and more recently renewable energy. The Bank also ventured into new and complimentary areas of business such as investment banking, unit trusts, stock broking, venture capital and industrial estate management. 46 | CEO Magazine Sri Lanka
Over the years, DFCC was recognized for its service in the development and corporate social responsibility areas and its role in the development agenda of the country. It has also been in the forefront of sustainable development financing, being a net transferor of financial resources. As part of the Bank’s anniversary celebrations, the Bank launched its new logo to commemorate its successful 65 years, and declared the month of October as the Bank’s anniversary month and planned a number of activities to engage with varied stakeholders. Among its latest attainments is the state-of-the-art DFCC Pinnacle Centre which is located at Horton Place, Colombo 7. The elegantly designed space will be a center of excellence dedicated to meeting its customers’ financial requirements. The DFCC Pinnacle centre is well-planned and designed with a boardroom, lounge, cycling bay, changing rooms, hotdesking facilities and entertainment areas to be patronized exclusively by its Pinnacle customers. In line with the Bank’s Sustainability strategy of promoting ‘Cycling’ for a healthy work-life balance, the Pinnacle centre has been designed to accommodate cycling to the Centre where it is also equipped with changing rooms for customers who want to cycle to this location.
DFCC partners with Caritas on an Educational Scholarship Programme Additionally, DFCC decided to give back to the community at large by organizing numerous CSR activities. Together with Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC, a partnership was formed to provide educational support to over 100 youth who are from low income families with educational scholarships, so as to enable them to continue their education without any interruption. DFCC’s Flagship branch in Kurunegala DFCC’s Kurunegala branch will be relocated to a state-ofthe-art building to coincide with the Bank’s 65th anniversary at No. 77, Colombo Road, Kurunegala. This five storied building is also equipped with an auditorium and training centre, a regional office, a credit hub, and promises improved convenience, a sophisticated atmosphere and an enhanced customer experience. Being true to the Bank’s promise on its Sustainability goals, the building consists of solar power and an energy efficient cooling system thus playing a key role towards a greener environment. Hand Wash Booths to 65 Schools across the Country With the objective of curbing the spread of COVID-19, DFCC initiated a special school project offering hand wash booths to identified rural schools across the country which has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education. These booths will be installed and maintained by the Bank at multiple locations identified by the schools within the school premises. 65th Anniversary Offers • In an effort to give back to its customers, numerous bundled offers and fee waivers on products and services will be offered to customers acquired during the month of October. Customers could avail themselves of a Free School Bag and Water Bottle for every deposit of for Rs. 10,000/- and above made to the DFCC Junior Children’s Savings Account during this anniversary month. •
65% discount on the processing fee of Home Loans, Personal Loans and Leasing facilities will also be offered to retail customers who come on board during the month of October.
65% discount offers at supermarkets, hotels, online shopping, clothing outlets etc. will be offered on DFCC Credit Cards at over 50 merchant partners during the anniversary month.
Staff related activities As an ode to its loyal staff members, DFCC be commended the efforts of its people by hosting a hybrid anniversary event that was partly attended by staff and viewed virtually as well at a number of branches and at regional locations. Further, all long service staff of the Bank was also recognized for their loyalty. Various other memorabilia which highlights DFCC’s 65th anniversary, including t-shirts, badges, and limited editions, was also distributed to the staff. Many more internal activities spearheaded by the HR division were organized to ensure that the staff experiences the Bank’s 65 year journey. To coinside with the 65th Anniversary, the following loan schemes were re-introduced by DFCC to facilitate the progress of customers. DFCC Sahanaya Loan Scheme for SME Clients ‘DFCC Sahanaya’, a concessionary loan scheme was introduced to provide relief to the export-related businesses identifying a significant need in the market owing to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local business sector, and the country’s small and medium-size exporters to aid the revival of the sector in the island. The new loan scheme amounting to approximately LKR 2 billion has been extended to export-related, export-oriented customers in order to provide immediate relief and encourage them to avail market opportunities for the future. MSME Supply Chain Financing DFCC recently added a Supplier Financing Scheme to its existing gamut of products targeting suppliers of Export Agriculture Crops (EAC), namely spices (Cinnamon, Pepper, Cardamom, Nutmeg etc,) and high-value fruits and vegetables, thus showcasing its commitment toward un-banked and the under banked Segments. Further, the scheme is expected to ease out the working capital cycle of the exporters engaged in EAC, and hence result in a providing a financial solution to strengthen the value chains of EAC.
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BILL GATES BLASTS U.S. RESPONSE TO COVID-19: 'MOST GOVERNMENTS LISTEN TO THEIR SCIENTISTS, NOT ATTACK THEM'
SHOWCASING THE INNOVATORS AND CHANGE MAKERS TO EXPLORE TODAY’S WORLD
Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates slammed the U.S. government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. had attacked its scientific experts, fallen behind other countries on testing, and failed to get its citizens to wear masks, he said. Many countries have "done very, very well" on getting people to change their behavior — but not the U.S., he said. Testing results take longer to come back in the U.S. than in other countries, Gates said, which he described as "mind-blowing".
egend news SAMSUNG GROUP TITAN LEE KUN-HEE DIES AGED 78 Lee Kun-hee, the Chairman of South Korea's largest conglomerate, Samsung Group, has died aged 78. Mr Lee helped to grow his father's small trading business into an economic powerhouse, diversifying into areas like insurance and shipping. During his lifetime, Samsung Electronics also became one of the world's biggest tech firms. He was the richest person in South Korea, according to Forbes, with a net worth of nearly $21bn (£16bn). Samsung said Mr Lee died on Sunday (25th of October) with family by his side, but did not state the exact cause of death. A heart attack in 2014 had left him living in care.
SHAKESPEARE FIRST FOLIO FETCHES A RECORD $10M AT AUCTION A copy of William Shakespeare's First Folio has been sold for a record $9.98m (£7.6m) at auction in New York. The 1623 book, published seven years after the Bard's death, was the first collected edition of his plays. About 235 copies of the book exist, but only a handful of complete versions are known to be in private hands. The edition sold was the first complete copy to go under the hammer since 2001, when one fetched $6.1m (£4.9m) - the previous record.
FACEBOOK AND TWITTER CHIEFS ORDERED TO TESTIFY OVER BIDEN ARTICLE Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey will be ordered to testify over alleged censorship of a controversial New York Post article. The article revealed emails and photographs that the New York Post claimed were copied from the laptop of Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden. Twitter said the story had violated its "hacked materials" policy, but later changed its stance. Facebook had limited its spread in the news feed while it was fact-checked. The move prompted accusations of censorship and pro-Biden bias from Republican lawmakers.
WORKING HARD TO TRANSFORM INDIA INTO A DIGITAL SOCIETY: MUKESH AMBANI Reliance Industries Chairman, Mukesh Ambani said he will be working towards the transformation of India into a digital society, transforming the education and skill base of the country and move away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy. "I am working towards three things. The first is transformation of India into a digital society and that digital society incorporates all the future industries, so that the next 30 years of India is 100 times, like what we had never imagined," said Ambani at an event. He detailed his second step – the education sector, where at any given point of time there are 200 million children. "It is time to transform our education sector ... It will take us eight to 10 years to completely transform the skill base of India. I think that we have the formula to convert that magic into reality and establish linkages between academic institutions in the real world with skill training and employment in a way that actually sustains India are much higher quality or better jobs.”
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A JOURNEY INTO THE
HEART OF BANKING WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE JONATHANS STUDIO
SIVAKRISHNARAJAH RENGANATHAN KNEW HE’D FOUND WHAT HE WANTED TO DO FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE WITHIN THE FIRST MONTH OF WORKING AT THE COMMERCIAL BANK OF CEYLON PLC. S. RENGANATHAN, THE MANAGING DIRECTOR / CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AT THE COMMERCIAL BANK OF CEYLON PLC, HAD SERVED THE BANK THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRETY OF HIS CAREER FOR MORE THAN 39 YEARS AND HAD HELD SEVERAL KEY POSITIONS IN THE BANK. HE LED THE TEAM TO ACQUIRE THE BANKING OPERATIONS OF CREDIT AGRICOLE INDOSUEZ IN BANGLADESH AND HAD ESTABLISHED THE BANK’S OPERATIONS IN A SUCCESSFUL MANNER WITH HIGH RATING DURING HIS FIRST FIVE YEARS TENURE.
enganathan, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK (FCMA), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), Fellow of the London Institute of Banking & Finance, UK (FLIBF) and a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers Sri Lanka (FIB), had received extensive Leadership, Management and Banking training in the USA, London, Japan, Thailand, Abu Dhabi, India and many other countries.
DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
In July 2003, he was appointed as the first Country Manager of the Bank’s Bangladesh operations which was the first-ever overseas operation of the Bank. On his return to the country, he was appointed as the Bank’s first Chief Risk Officer (CRO) and was responsible for preparing and establishing the Bank’s Integrated Risk Management Division and Policies. In April 2011, he was appointed as the Deputy General Manager – Personal Banking Division, with overall responsibility to manage the Bank’s entire branch network. Later, in July 2014, he was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer and an Executive Director of the Bank Board. Ultimately, in July 2018, he was appointed to the pivotal role of MD/ CEO of the Bank which has an asset base of above LKR 1.5 trillion and gross revenue of approximately LKR 150 Billion. In addition, Renganathan serves as the MD and a Board Member of the Commercial Development Company PLC (Listed in CSE), and Commercial Bank of Maldives Private Limited as the Deputy Chairman. He is a Director of the Lanka Financial Services Bureau Limited and the Sri Lanka Banks’ Association (Guarantee) Limited. He is also a Vice Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka, Executive Member of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Executive Member of The Council for Business with Britain, Member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors, Member of the Council of Employers Federation of Ceylon and the Treasurer of the Sri Lanka India Society and a Consultant to the District Governor of Lions Club International - District 306 B1.
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LEGEND | Cover Story
Renganathan has served among others, as a Member of the General Council of the Institute of Bankers of Bangladesh, Founder President of the Sri Lanka Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Executive Member of the Foreign Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bangladesh, Past Secretary of the Executives Association of the Bank, Cabinet Treasurer of the Lions Clubs International District 306 B1 for three years and a member of the Cabinet for the past 5 years. In recognition of his social service, he was appointed by the Ministry of Justice as a whole island Justice of Peace. Speaking about the challenges Renganathan had faced as the Bank’s first Chief Risk Officer, he stated five major challenges. “The first challenge was securing balanced minded officers to manage the three major risks of the Bank. The second challenge was to identify the key risk indicators under the credit, operational and market risk faced by the Bank. Another challenge was creating awareness among the internal staff about the importance of risk management. “I, also, had to manage the teething issues in implementing the credit risk assessment procedures without affecting customer service levels. The major challenge was to build a strong and effective risk assessment culture within the Bank,” Renganathan said. There was a sluggish economic growth in 2019 due to Easter attacks, volatile political situation leading up to an election, and unfortunately, what promised to be a year of economic revival, 2020, brought the COVID-19 global pandemic to Sri Lanka, affecting many sectors of the country, however, Renganathan as the MD/ CEO had steered the Bank well even during such a problematic period. “The Bank went beyond the industry norms and the regulations and directions issued by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to assist customers of the Bank to manage their finances and repayment of loans during the COVID period. Relief schemes offered by the Bank have been designed to cater to the needs of all types of customers of the Bank, excluding none of the segments. Corporates, SME customers, individuals, credit cardholders and even non-performing borrowers are offered with different relief schemes to ensure that they get breathing space when repaying their borrowings.”
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As a relief measure to the businesses affected by the pandemic, the Bank had introduced the ‘Arunella’ financial support scheme. The Bank had also helped entrepreneurs through a scheme introduced by the CBSL, to provide working capital loans at a concessionary interest rate of 4% p.a. “Just after the pandemic situation, Commercial Bank was the first bank to secure USD 50 Million funding from a Development Financial Institution, IFC, to support SME entrepreneurs affected by COVID-19,” Renganathan added. Some of the other initiatives implemented by the Bank during the period, under the directives of the MD/ CEO, include special COVID support loan schemes for micro entrepreneurs and SMEs which were provided at low interest rates. Further, normal lending rates were also reduced in addition to providing concessions for credit cardholders, fee waivers and offering digital services free of charge etc. During the lockdown period, the Commercial Bank assisted the public by providing the ‘Mobile Cash’ facility with 11 vehicles, which not only benefited customers of the Commercial Bank. These vehicles were operated in pre-announced routes to allow customers who run short of cash to make withdrawals from their bank accounts.
Describing how the role of digital marketing has evolved in the Banking sector, the Senior Banker explained, “The negative impacts of the COVID-19 are far reaching and longer lasting than anyone could predict. Naturally, the Banking sector is also feeling the pressure of the global negative impacts. The demand for digital services grew exponentially during the lockdown period and with the help of easing of the Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, we were able to cater to this demand, though the conditions were certainly challenging. I feel the entire sector faced that challenge pretty well.”
Cover Story | LEGEND
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LEGEND | Cover Story
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Cover Story | LEGEND
He further continued: “It is encouraging to see the growth momentum continuing. The Commercial Bank saw growth in all areas of digital touch points such as Flash Digital Banking account, ComBank Digital Banking App, Paymaster corporate payment portal and also other merchant based payment systems. The Bank deployed extra resources with teams working through the days to facilitate services during lockdown period. It is interesting to note that this was an opportunity to tap into some hitherto unexplored and untapped customer profiles, such as more mature segments, used to visiting branches frequently. Customer onboarding for digital services will continue in line with our strategic road map for digital services.” Adding more to the topic of Digital Transformation, the MD/ CEO stated that future expansions of the Bank will be mostly based on the digital front and virtual platform. “Banks are the backbone of an economy,” responded Renganathan when asked to explain how the Banking sector affects the economy of the country. Moving on to elaborate, he imparted, “The Banking sector plays a crucial role in the economy of the country since it provides liquidity to the economy through accepting deposits and lending it out to businesses, by facilitating internal, international trade and commerce. Banks also provide financial advisory services to businesses and the retail customers.” “It is so unfortunate that our country has been going through two major economic blows during the last 2 years. The COVID pandemic affected almost all our borrowers. Hence, we are the only Bank in Sri Lanka which came up with a variety of Payment Relief Schemes considering difficult scenarios of our customers and including ‘Rebates’ for early settlements etc. Even non-performing borrowers were provided with upto 50% interest waivers when satisfactory repayment amounts were agreed. We have extended moratorium facilities above the government schemes and our teams are advised to identify the exact situation of the borrowers and agree on a realistic repayment programme. We feel that this approach will assist early revival of affected businesses and individuals.”
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LEGEND | Cover Story
According to Renganathan, the uniqueness of the Commercial Bank is its pioneering products and services, especially in the sphere of Digital Banking, and the steps taken by the Bank to provide customized solutions to all customer segments by identifying their needs. Emphasizing the Bank’s involvement in Corporate Social Responsibility projects, Renganathan stated that the Commercial Bank is amongst the few private sector enterprises in the country that has a special CSR unit dedicated to research, identify, assess, short-list and submit proposals on opportunities for the Bank to meaningfully impact lives and the country. The Bank is heavily involved in promoting technology education to the future generations of the country through a sustainable and well set up action plan, that started with donation of IT laboratories to schools and gradually evolved into national level initiatives of online learning and technological education.” In conclusion, MD/ CEO Renganathan claimed, “The environment is still very much uncertain with no permanent solution for the pandemic in sight globally. This means that main sectors of our economy will take a longer time to recover and to resume operations in their optimum capacity. The drop in the Gross Domestic Production and the additional pressure on the sector due to additional costs incurred and the interruptions in recovery efforts will negatively affect the balance sheets and two major
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ratios that dictate the health of the Banking sector, namely capital adequacy and liquid asset ratios. The banks will be required to maintain more than adequate capital to meet unforeseen circumstances. We are glad that we were able to attract a private placement of USD 50 Million equity from IFC amidst various challenges including country rating downgrade. “The Banking sector will have to keep making many adjustments of its operations, guidelines and processes to suit the prevailing conditions as they change by the day. The parameters that apply to determine the credit quality, classification of customers, some of the operational guidelines have changed and are still changing. Also, the sector has to deploy a substantial amount of manpower into constant servicing and rehabilitating the affected facilities. The sector will have to operate in a very different environment and everything from credit evaluations, risk appetites and to accounting standards will have to undergo adjustments in the medium term, provided that the pandemic situation will not spiral out of proportions again globally.” “The only certain thing during this period seems to be uncertain socio-economic conditions and as a sector that has faced many challenging situations before, we are confident of rising above this challenge as well,” he concludes confidently.
Cover Story | LEGEND
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SHOWCASING THE INNOVATORS AND CHANGE MAKERS TO EXPLORE TODAY’S WORLD
2021 BENTLEY FLYING SPUR NOW AVAILABLE WITH V-8 POWER
Bentley is now offering its twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, which is also available in the Continental GT, in the Flying Spur luxury sedan as a lighter and cheaper alternative to the existing W-12 model. The British automaker says it's adding the more driverfocused powertrain because it's seeing a shift in customers actually driving their Flying Spurs instead of being chauffeured around in them.
HERMES, NOT GUCCI, IS THE CHIC CHOICE RIGHT NOW One takeaway from the third-quarter earnings we’ve seen so far is that consumers are still spending — and they’re reaching for big, well-known brands for everything from food to face cream. This has played out most dramatically in high-end retail, where in some cases wealthy shoppers are buying more expensive goods than they were a year ago. There are a few reasons why this may be. As I have noted, some of the spending is coming from savings accumulated during the lockdown, and affluent consumers want to get the most bang for their buck. If they’re reaching outside their regular price range or making their first luxury purchase, that often means shelling out for a household name: Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior or Hermes — all of which have seen strong sales recoveries.
JAPANESE CHIP GEAR SUPPLIER EYES REBOUND IN FLASH MEMORY ORDERS A Japanese maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, is seeing signs of a rebound in demand from flash memory makers, while DRAM manufacturers hold back spending. A slump in overall orders for chip gear in the three months ended 30 June will be short-lived, followed by a rebound over the next two quarters and a dip in the final one, Screen President Toshio Hiroe said in an interview. The company expects fullyear orders and sales in the business to be little changed from the last fiscal period, with demand from Taiwanese foundries helping to offset sluggish spending by DRAM makers. “The conditions in the Nand market are looking good and chipmakers are beginning to invest in preparation for future demand,” Hiroe said. “DRAM recovery has been slow going.”
ROLLS-ROYCE AND JAGUAR LAND ROVER PAY UP FOR BOND DEALS UK engineering stalwarts Rolls-Royce and Jaguar Land Rover have both dipped into the bond markets for much-needed funding in the past week, with investors demanding hefty interest rates from the coronavirus-hit businesses. Rolls-Royce was set to issue £2bn worth of bonds as part of a rescue package that also includes a rights issue of equity. Two years ago, the company was able to borrow six-year debt for just 0.875 per cent. This time, debt spread across three currencies comes with coupons between 4.625 percent and 5.75 percent, far above the European benchmark of 3.73 percent reflected in the ICE BofA index of high-yield debt.
COACH OWNER TAPESTRY IS MANAGING BETTER ONLINE THAN OTHER RETAILERS DURING THE PANDEMIC Coach and Kate Spade owner Tapestry its online sales during the latest quarter surged a triple-digit percentage from a year ago, as consumers stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic flocked to its websites for handbags, pajamas and other whimsical accessories. But when you’re in retail and you hear about such impressive e-commerce growth, you often immediately think about the pressure that, in turn, is being put on gross margins. Typically, a retailer’s online sales are less profitable than sales in stores — when you account for all the extra expenses like packing, shipping and delivery. The issue has plagued companies including Target and Walmart, especially during the pandemic as their digital businesses have boomed. The online furniture company Wayfair is still unprofitable, as another example.
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A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER “WHEN I USED TO WORK 16 HOURS A DAY AT WORK, MANY CAME UP TO ME AND SAID, I WON’T BE A DIRECTOR, THERE WILL BE NO POINT IN PUTTING MUCH EFFORT. I USED TO TELL THEM, I WILL NOT SETTLE DOWN FOR ANYTHING LESS. WHILE EVERYONE WAS BUSY AIMING AT THE STARS AND ENDING AT A TREE TOP, I WAS FOCUSED ON TOUCHING THE STARS AND KNOWING WHAT SUCCESS TASTES LIKE. I BECAME THE YOUNGEST NEWS DIRECTOR AT 26 AND BECAME THE YOUNGEST CEO AT 31. I WON TWO INTERNATIONAL AWARDS AND FILED OVER 50 STORIES FOR CNN AND CHANNEL NEWS ASIA AND TODAY, I’M AN ALUMNI OF ST. CROSS COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD. A BOY WHO COULDN’T PUT DOWN A SENTENCE IN ENGLISH MADE THE IMPOSSIBLE HAPPEN, AND I OWE IT TO ONE MAN. THAT’S MY CHAIRMAN, MR. R. RAJAMAHENDRAN,” DIVULGED SHAMEER RASOOLDEEN, A JOURNALIST TURNED TEA PROFESSIONAL.
WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE ARUNA UDAYA ALWIS
hameer, who began his career journey as a News Reporter, is now the Chief Executive Officer of A.F. Jones Exporters Ceylon (Pvt) Limited, which is a subsidiary of the Capital Maharaja Group. He is also the host of ‘Face the Nation’, a weekly current affairs show that covers issues of social and political relevance in Sri Lanka. Prior to this, Shameer was a journalist with News 1st for 13 years, and became the youngest Director of English News at the reputed Media organization. He was adjudged Sri Lanka's Outstanding Young Personality of the year in 2014, and was a Asia21 Young Leader in 2016. He is a CNN Fellow (2007), and was awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Fellowship in 2012. Shameer had won the Best Feature Report of the year award at the CNN World Report Awards in 2008, and won the Silver Medal at the United Nations Correspondents Awards in 2013 for his reporting. He is a qualified HR professional and holds a MBA (UK). He is also a CRISP Fellow (2019), and followed the programme at St. Cross college, University of Oxford.
DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
As the youngest Director of English News, Shameer introduced ‘News 1st UReport’ when he was challenged to take the brand to rural areas. This was a platform for every Sri Lankan to report news at the ease of their mobile phones. He continued, “We saw a huge potential in this and we developed it. Most of the UReporters are provincial correspondents today. There is a growing network of over 50,000 UReporters. “If you ask me what I miss being at News 1st, it probably is UReport. I was quite passionate, and to hear the stories of people made me realize that everyone has a story to tell. There is no good story or great story, every story is unique and extraordinary. V Awards is also something I’m proud of. It was the first ever volunteer awards in Sri Lanka to honour and salute the selfless contributions made by volunteers to the society.” “Mr. Jayantha Monnekulame my mentor in the Tea business once said in 2016, ‘You don’t have to know your tea to sell tea, you have to have the passion,’ when I thought that a move from the Media industry to the Tea industry was a tough challenge,” Shameer recalled.
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LAVISH | Shameer Rasooldeen
Under Shameer’s leadership and guidance, today, A.F. Jones has become one of the fastest growing companies of the Maharaja Group, and he praised his young and energetic team for its success. In the recent past, the Tea industry had to face countless challenges such as the ban on glyphosate and the worker wage issue. Voicing his opinion on the ban on glyphosate, the industry professional stated that the industry and the livelihoods of people were largely affected due to the then government’s illogical thinking. “From an exporter’s point of view, we lost a good 3 Million kilograms to Japan. We exported approximately 10 Million kilograms of tea before the ban, and today it has reduced to 7 Million kilograms. People lost their livelihoods, factories were closed and hundreds of thousands of tea acres were affected. Our relations with Japan were hampered. Why? Because one fine day, someone thought that the usage of weedicide was harmful. I’m glad that the Tea Board, the Ceylon Tea Traders Association, and the Tea Exporters Association stepped up. If not, there was a threat of Sri Lanka losing another market and the graveyard would have had the name of Japan and Taiwan inked on the coffin. “It has now been proven that glyphosate does not pose any health hazards. This was communicated by the then Minister of Plantation Industries as well. Glyphosate is a cost effective way to combat weedicides. It will take years to win back the confidence of the Japanese, as Japan is a traditional market for Ceylon tea. The MCPA levels have to be maintained and that is the only way we can fight back and win back the market.” Furthermore, enunciating his views on the worker wage issue, he said, “There has been a talk of a wage increase. I’m for it, but many factors need to be taken into account. Haphazard decisions shouldn’t be taken just to please the political authority or even the people. If the production costs increase, the tea prices will also automatically increase, resulting in the marked price of Ceylon tea to increase globally, making us less competitive. Hence, the decision has to be made with the head and not the heart. There are always the ripple effects that need to be considered. More thought has to be put into this.” Speaking of the threats faced by the Tea industry, Shameer stated four major threats and challenges. He proclaimed that the main obstacle is the competition, as the Indian, Kenyan, Vietnamese and Indonesian tea are much cheaper than Ceylon tea. INCREASED COMPETITIVENESS “Sri Lanka has lost markets like Pakistan and Egypt to Kenya. We almost lost the Iranian market owing to Indian tea. Everyone has to step up, even the government. There is resistance from many to blend other origin teas with Ceylon tea, in Sri Lanka. If there are controlled mechanisms, why not? The issue is that
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some in the industry will find a loophole and it will further tarnish the image of good quality Ceylon tea. I recollect, when I joined the industry in 2016, I didn’t see why we couldn’t have an online tea auction system which was debated for years, I have personally debated and argued with industry veterans on my show and even at public forums. We delayed until the COVID-19 struck to move towards such an online digitized platform. Today, the platform is successful. If we start thinking small, we will continue to be small. Sri Lanka is a resilient nation, the Tea industry could boast a 150-year-old history, and if we are to survive another 150 years, we have to start thinking differently. There needs to be a complete shift in the way we think. There are too many industry veterans who do not wish to change, due to personal agendas. It’s a pity!” LACK OF INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE “Not many countries have heard of Ceylon tea and in this regard, the Tea Board has a major role to play as the competent authority in Sri Lanka. There is a substantial amount of money allocated by exporters to fund the tea promotions across the world. However, not much is being done. We have to establish our footprint as a premium tea supplier. The character of Ceylon tea cannot be matched. We have to capitalize on that.” CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE “People are moving away from tea to coffee, as coffee is now a lifestyle product. The fund of the Tea Board which is funded by exporters should be used to actively promote tea as a lifestyle product.” DEPLETION OF TEA PLUCKERS “Most tea pluckers have moved to urban areas to find jobs. Hence, there is only a dearth of people who pluck tea now. The government has to bring in the stakeholder model promptly to address this issue.” Sharing the organization’s future prospects, the CEO stated, “We have plans to develop a herbal range for the health conscious and also to gradually move towards instant tea to serve our clients in the Middle East. We have built some good brands across certain markets, in particular, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Libya and the Balkans. We will continue aggressively, launching campaigns and moving to build new SKUs in these markets. Also, we are looking at Artificial Intelligence to forecast market trends and buying patterns. We just don’t see a storm in a teacup; we see limitless opportunities with a dynamic young team. I’m positive, sky's the limit for Jones!”
Shameer Rasooldeen | LAVISH
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Quality: THE NAME OF THE GAME WORDS STEPHANIE NUGARA
CAPTURE & DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
HAVING BEEN A PART OF THE COMPANY SINCE HIS FORMATIVE YEARS, FOUZUL HAMEED, THE CURRENT MANAGING DIRECTOR OF HAMEEDIA HAS INTRODUCED THE LOCAL HOME-GROWN MEN’S CLOTHING BRAND TO THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE BY BUILDING UPON THE LEGACY OF HIS GRAND-UNCLE AND FATHER.
My journey has been unique in every sense of the term. I am currently, a leading menswear consultant in Sri Lanka, dedicated to turning men into gentlemen.”
With decades worth of experience in the industry, Fouzul explained his philosophy when it came to persevering in the face of challenges. “What matters most to me is the quality of the product. In any given situation, we strive to please our client. In order to move forward we need to keep moving through challenge after challenge.” Speaking of Hameedia’s journey to becoming a homegrown international brand, Fouzul said, “Hameedia was the brain child of my grand uncle, who founded the organization in 1925. As time went by my father took over the business in 1949, and together with my uncles, he built up the business upon the solid foundation my grand uncle had left. It has been my great honor to add my contributions to the Hameedia legacy. Today, the 4th generation has joined in the family business as well. Hameedia currently consists of 4 primary brands – Envoy, LeBond, Signature and FH. While Envoy and LeBond cater to the premium
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and upper-middle customer segment respectively, Signature is a mass market brand, and FH features stylish casualwear.” “Our reach now extends as far as the United Kingdom, where we recently opened a store on Kensington High Street. There, we stand among the giants of the global Apparel industry. Further, we also have stores in the Maldives and Seychelles as well”, added Fouzul. When questioned about how Hameedia ensures to keep up with the ever-changing trends in menswear, the fashion connoisseur replied, “We do a lot of research, while also visiting European countries such as Milan in order to survey the trending styles and search for means by which to incorporate these into the local market. Trends in fashion are constantly changing, as such, I make it a point to keep myself updated, so as to provide Sri Lankan men with the latest and high-quality apparel.”
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LAVISH | Fouzul Hameed
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Fouzul Hameed | LAVISH
Elaborating on the vital characteristics a local brand would need to assume a strong position in the global sphere, the Managing Director stated, “The vital points are product and quality. Additionally, in the case of Hameedia, our tailoring has also played a key role in making us a popular household name. We constantly strive to ensure that the fabric we use is of the highest standard on an international level. We do our best to make sure that the customer receives an elegant and comfortable product in the end. The fabric we use in tailoring enables us to compete with world renowned apparel brands such as Zara and Gucci.” Of the manner in which Hameedia factors sustainability into its production process, Fouzul listed • • • • • •
Working on new technologies Recyclable materials New fabric designs Low wastage Maximum usage of fabrics Reputed fabric through quality certification
“In addition, we use 100% sustainable cotton, as well as 100% recyclable materials such as polyester and linen to reduce the landfill rate. We’ve also adopted the ‘Think Green’ concept for factory expansion as is used in foreign countries.” “The Apparel sector has been severely impacted by the global lockdown brought on by the prevailing pandemic, especially in relation to the sourcing of fabrics, which has come to a halt. However, we at Hameedia, have taken corrective measures to improve the business. During the pandemic we refrained from job cuts and made sure that all our staff members would be able survive the tough times brought on by COVID-19. We made sure that job enhancement and empowerment were conducted carefully, and with due consideration towards our employees”, said Fouzul, describing the impact of the global lockdown upon the Sri Lankan Apparel industry, and the steps taken by Hameedia to ensure a quick recovery and preserve jobs.
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EXTRA MILE WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE & DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
“I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT DRIVING RESULTS THROUGH EFFECTIVE MARKETING,” PROFESSED PESHALA WIJEWARDANA, THE SENIOR MANAGER MARKETING OF LAUGFS SUPERMARKETS (PVT) LTD, WHO IS A SEASONED MARKETER WITH OVER NINE YEARS’ EXPERIENCE IN MARKETING AND MANAGEMENT WITH EXTENSIVE EXPOSURE IN CUSTOMER MARKETING, CHANNEL COMMUNICATIONS, BRANDING, CUSTOMER LOYALTY, CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT, E-COMMERCE AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. IN ADDITION, HE IS A MODERN TRADE MARKETING SPECIALIST WITH OVER SIX YEARS’ EXPERIENCE IN MANAGEMENT CAPACITY, HAVING BEEN INVOLVED IN THE LAUNCH OF OVER 50 RETAIL STORES, LIFESTYLE STORES AND FOOD RETAIL STORES.
10 years ago, when I faced the first job interview, I didn’t know that I was about to be a part of one of the most exciting and vibrant industries that would open up a world of opportunities to positively shape my career and most importantly, enjoy the work I do. Modern trade started the upward trend during the early years of the previous decade, and I was privileged to be a part of a leading retail brand during the heydays or the rapid growth stage of the industry. With extensive exposure in different fields, I was able to excel myself to the Marketing Manager position within four years.” Peshala is currently heading the Marketing operations of the LAUGFS Super, Crimson Bakery and Jade restaurant brands. “The experience with LAUGFS Super, a brand which revolutionized the Supermarket industry has been truly amazing thus far, where I got the opportunity to lead the strategic marketing direction of the new look of ‘LAUGFS’ Supermarket brand, and other market development projects, in order to achieve greater penetration in modern trade.”
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The successful Marketer went on to say, “The secret behind my career success is that I was able to work for some of the best local brands in the industry with great leaders, colleagues, and subordinates, where I was able to acquire many competencies and also be part of some of the most iconic projects in modern retail trade.” When questioned about how the Consumer Goods and Retail Sector faired in 2020, Peshala replied, “The Sri Lankan retail industry faced quite a few challenges in the recent past. As we all know by now, the COVID-19 is a global health crisis and when any macro factor adversely impacts the society, it also creates a ripple effect on consumer goods and especially the Retail sector, as it’s a very sensitive lifestyle sector which closely interacts with people. The first quarter started on a very positive note, yet with the lockdown imposed from end March the Q2 performance was quite lackluster year-on-year.”
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LAVISH | Peshala Wijewardana
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Peshala Wijewardana | LAVISH
Peshala continued to say that the month of April is an active seasonal month for retail due to the Avurudu celebrations, however, the negative impact of restricted consumption created by the lockdown had diluted the overall performance of the industry. “The third quarter is showing signs of recovery from the massive slump in Q2, and I’m sure the entire industry is hopeful of a far better last quarter where history repeats with a successful year end after a midyear crisis,” he added. Speaking about cautious spending on the part of consumers, many of whom have had to undergo salary cuts, the Marketer stated that the reason for the year-on-year sales to drop is due to selective spending of customers and the reduction in the number of shopping trips. He pointed out that it’s not just the changes in remuneration, but the overall customer lifestyle and consumption patterns, and as a result most customers are more conscious of savings and spend only on most essential items. Another reason pointed out by Peshala was the change in customer channel selection decisions as a result of the experience during the lockdown where customers got exposed to different channels to source products. Expressing his views about the necessity of diverting the business model online during the time, Peshala stated that not only diverting to online, at least a call or WhatsApp delivery system was essential to reach customers who couldn’t travel freely and to ensure business continuity. LAUGFS Super was anyway operating www.grocerypal.lk, which was in high demand during the early stages of the lockdown and we effectively operationalized a ‘call order and town storming model’ which was well accepted even by customers who hadn’t patronized LAUGFS before. Online proved to be quite an effective and convenient model to operate during a community lockdown, and the learnings of this occurrence will surely contribute to the future development of online retail in Sri Lanka.” Furthermore, the Senior Manager noted that currently, the online sales have reduced after the opening up of routine shopping options. In his opinion, the sudden activation of online channels has created a broad societal dialogue regarding the potency of online business in Sri Lanka with many businesses pushed to think digital and that the initial reluctance and ambiguity of online shopping, especially online grocery shopping, has been abridged by this experience, and hence more customers now feel comfortable in using online channels.
Commenting on the potential of the consumer goods and how it can be achieved, Peshala mentioned, “Consumer goods represent two main categories as durable and non-durable. The supermarket product mix in Sri Lanka is dominated by non-durable food, personal care, and home care products. The nondurable segment also is less susceptible to economic adversities since those products are quite essential for household consumption. As societies develop and the related disposable income and lifestyles improve, the consumption of consumer goods also increases. In other words, the Consumer Goods industry relies heavily on economic development and the distribution of wealth. In Sri Lanka still, the main consumption contribution is from the Western Province, where most of the supermarkets are located incidentally. As a result, the modern trade share is approximately 20% which is quite low compared to regional statistics. In such a backdrop, the consumer goods industry has more potential to develop the market with a strategic approach to upgrade lifestyles of the Sri Lankan consumer, working closely with retailers.” On the topic of cheap imports, Peshala stated that it has not been a major threat for Retailers, although it has adversely affected the durable product manufacturers. “In relation to retail and consumer goods, customers generally tend to opt for the cheaper option when there’s hardly a difference between the products offered by two different brands. Therefore, manufacturers or importers with cost advantages have an upper hand in grabbing market share in certain product categories. If customers continuously demand cheaper options, the profitability of retailers can also dent as a result of the reducing gross profit values. Sri Lankan modern trade shoppers, however, are well aware of different product attributes and product quality, and hence, inferior products do not sustain in the market generally. “The real challenge for a local manufacturer would be an efficiently manufactured good quality import, which enables the manufacturer to pass a percentage of the benefit to customers as a price reduction or regular discount. While restricting inferior product imports, policy makers must look at incentivizing local manufacturers to deploy new production technologies to improve production efficiencies. Most of the locally manufactured products are of good quality which has secured a good international market as well, therefore, supporting small and medium food manufacturers to improve production efficiencies would be a step in the right direction,” concluded Peshala.
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SHOWCASING THE INNOVATORS AND CHANGE MAKERS TO EXPLORE TODAY’S WORLD
SRI LANKA SHOWS IT’S POTENTIAL AT THE “FLAVOURS OF SRI LANKA” DESTINATION PROMOTION EVENT Continuing with its destination promotion despite the COVID -19 pandemic across the globe, the Sri Lankan Embassy in Austria, in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), held another destination promotional event titled 'Flavours of Sri Lanka', depicting Sri Lanka’s traditional cuisine at the Helden Restaurant, Welt Museum in Vienna on 30th August, 2020. The effort was highly successful as a large number of participants turned up for the event, so as to experience a bit of the sumptuous Sri Lankan cuisine. The visitors were ensured of their safety and hygiene adapting to the new circumstances, and were able to gain a most memorable experience during this difficult time. The event was arranged in order to give a glimpse of the Sri Lankan hospitality and delicious cuisine.
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Hotline: 070 449 2017
SRI LANKA CALLS FOR A PARADIGM SHIFT ON HOW TOURISM & TRAVEL IS PERCEIVED IN CHINA Consul General of Sri Lanka Manorie Mallikaratchy, making a presentation on Sri Lanka as a tourist destination, called for a paradigm shift on how the Tourism and Travel sector is perceived in the new normal era and invited the Chinese Tour and Travel industry to explore boundless possibilities between China and Sri Lanka in reshaping the Travel and Tourism trade. She made these remarks at a presentation for over 100 offline employees and 300 online employees at the Ctrip headquarters in Shanghai. Ms. Mallikaratchy said that amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, what is required is a paradigm shift on how we see tourism and how we experience travelling today. This pandemic has compelled all of us to re-think our normal life style and how we seek to refresh ourselves. It has brought an opportunity and an occasion to redefine meaning of life, and the meaning of what surrounds us, and most importantly deep reflection of what matters to us as travelers, which is health and wellbeing. In this light, Sri Lanka one of the safest countries in the world today offers a variety of products to rejuvenate, refresh and change.
SL TOURISM AND AUSTRALIA’S MDF TO DEVELOP 5-YEAR PLAN FOR TOURISM RESEARCH Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and Australia’s Market Development Facility (MDF) have joined hands to develop a research roadmap to facilitate Sri Lanka’s position as Asia’s foremost tourism destination. The roadmap will pave the way for better understanding of the visitors who come to Sri Lanka and assist the public and private sectors in making evidence-based decisions and investments in Tourism. This is the first time a thorough analysis has been undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of the data collection efforts by SLTDA and its usage. SLTDA identified the need for better quality data and research to improve the strategic direction of Sri Lanka’s Tourism sector, in line with the goals set in Sri Lanka’s Tourism Strategic Plan.
‘GO ON A COUCH SAFARI’ CONCEPT TO BE PROMOTED BY SRI LANKA TOURISM With the recent sharp decline in tourism arrivals due to the global pandemic and flight restrictions, Sri Lanka Tourism has initiated a novel approach to promote the island through a concept branded as 'Go on a Couch Safari' covering wildlife streams from our most popular national parks. Every year, hundreds of elephants gather to the manmade reservoirs inside Minneriya and Kawudulla National Parks in the dry season, creating a breathtaking sight. Considered a most beautiful natural phenomenon in the world, this experience will be streamed through SLTPB social media sites and an affiliated website from Minneriya National Park as the first wildlife stream of the series. Minneriya is home to the first recorded twin wild elephants which has become a sensation among wildlife enthusiasts expected to draw the attention of thousands of potential wild life travelers to the country in the near future.
CNBC TO PROMOTE SRI LANKA TOURISM CNBC, the world’s leading channel for consumer and business news, extended their support to Sri Lanka Tourism by providing USD 100,000 worth of advertising on CNBC, gratis. The complimentary advertising opportunity was offered in an effort to promote and uplift the Sri Lankan tourism economy. The tourism promotional campaign will be aired for a period of 3 months, commencing mid-September on CNBC in Asia, Middle East and Europe. Speaking on behalf of CNBC, Mr. Chandima Udabage highlighted the benefit for Sri Lanka Tourism through the promotional campaign, noting that CNBC has established its footprint in 162 countries with a household distribution of 380 million worldwide. “From technology and investing to finance, luxury, energy, politics and travel, CNBC focuses on covering the biggest news stories through the lens of business and finance while helping the influential and the aspirational, make astute decisions,” he said.
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RESPLENDENT TO ITS CORE
WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE DILSHAN AYESHMANTHA
DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
MAHEESHA RATNAYAKE STEPPED INTO THE ROLE OF CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER FOR RESPLENDENT CEYLON (PVT) LTD IN AUGUST 2018, AFTER BEING PROMOTED INTERNALLY FROM HIS POSITION AS DIRECTOR OPERATIONS. HAVING BEEN WITH THE ORGANIZATION SINCE 2017, HE WAS WELL PLACED TO STRENGTHEN THE OPERATIONS AND LEAD THE LUXURY HOTEL CHAIN, ESPECIALLY DURING THESE TRYING TIMES.
ith 20 plus years of progressive experience working in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Dubai, Riyadh KSA, British Virgin Islands, Jamaica West Indies, and Sri Lanka, Maheesha is a group level leader with a track record of delivering winning operations in complicated environments and crisis scenarios, which is a driving force behind the smooth operations of Resplendent Ceylon during a crisis period in the Hospitality industry. Resplendent Ceylon, which is a part of the Dilmah Ceylon Tea Company, owns three small luxury resorts that offer the discerning traveler a remarkable circuit across Sri Lanka, with a range of authentic experiences, while contributing towards local communities and the environment through the MJF Foundation and Dilmah Conservation. Its resorts Ceylon Tea Trails, Cape Weligama, and Wild Coast Tented Lodge, have won global acclaim as the finest in Sri Lanka. In recent achievements, the three resorts were ranked among the top 10 in the coveted Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards 2020, under Asia’s Best Resorts list. Resplendent Ceylon is the only luxury resort operator to have more than one property on the list, placing it as the number one small luxury hotel operator in Asia.
Explaining how Resplendent Ceylon maintained financial stability through crisis periods, he stated, “We achieved it by recalibrating human and operating resources to flex with occupancy fluctuations. A structured model that scales resource reliance vs. optimal efficiency and output is the key. Financial stress testing even during peak operating levels helped us. The devil is in the details. You have to dig deep for meaningful answers.” Resplendent Ceylon has managed to maintain and improve team engagement levels during successive crisis periods. Elaborating the same, he said, “Resplendent Ceylon’s operating ethos is, team first. We operate like a family. We share our victories and losses all the same. We have a nonhierarchical system where senior positions simply have more responsibility as opposed to power. Leadership is defined as mentoring, supporting, and facilitating greatness.” The pandemic has led to pay cuts and higher unemployment levels, however, Resplendent Ceylon has ensured that salary revisions were only applied to staff of a certain level. “We, like other operators, had to make some salary revisions to get through this challenging period. No positions below Operations Executives were impacted. Our internal communications were and are transparent and forthcoming. We share challenges equally and will reap rewards the same.”
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LEISURE | Maheesha Ratnayake
According to the respected industry personality, a crisis in the Hospitality industry means a direct impact to the livelihoods of over a million Sri Lankans, as a considerable portion of the working population is directly or indirectly employed in hotels, national parks and wildlife, logistics, tour operators, Food and Beverage industry, and several other Cottage industries. “Sri Lanka is no longer just a follower of trends. We are becoming trendsetters now,” exclaimed Maheesha. “We as a country are continuing to redefine Hospitality with our own unique blend of culture, history, beauty, nature, and people. Even our approach to navigating the pandemic is something that other more developed countries are taking a page from.” In Sri Lanka, the quality of Food and Beverage is a prominent factor to attract high-end customers, therefore, Resplendent Ceylon ensures world-class culinary experiences for its discerning guests. “Our three properties are the sole members of Relais and Châteaux in Sri Lanka. The affiliation confirms our commitment to cuisine with a sense of place and quality. Our chefs curate culinary experiences for our guests as opposed to being menu or buffet led offerings,” Maheesha asserted. With the experience he possesses after working in the Hospitality industry in many foreign countries, Maheesha divulged that the Sri Lankan Hospitality industry was lacking overall direction and support in the past. He continued: “Things are changing rapidly with the new and focused leadership of the Tourism industry. We need to avoid over-tourism and protect our national resources and heritage. We have to focus on developing talent. There is a looming workforce shortage which we should do more about. The talent pipeline isn’t looking healthy. We have to bring our own talent back to Sri Lanka by incentivizing their return. We need to increase the massive gender imbalance in the industry by supporting women to join and thrive in the industry. This is critical to become a world class tourist destination.” Speaking of the future of the Hospitality industry, Maheesha feels that the recovery period from COVID-19 would extend for more than two years; however, if the industry remains resilient and focused, it would emerge leaner, stronger, and wiser. In conclusion, Maheesha stated that Resplendent Ceylon would focus on expansion, its successes, while continuing to provide spiritually and experientially meaningful getaways to its guests.
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Maheesha Ratnayake | LEISURE
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HEALTHCARE WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE & DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
THERE’S SOMETHING DIFFERENT AND SPECIAL ABOUT THE HEALTHCARE SERVICES IN SRI LANKA, ESPECIALLY AT MELSTA HOSPITALS RAGAMA, AND ACCORDING TO THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF MELSTA HEALTH (PVT) LTD, DR. IRAIVAN K. THIYAGARAJAH, IT BOILS DOWN TO AFFORDABILITY.
r. Iraivan began his journey in the Healthcare industry as a Medical Officer at the Apollo Hospital Colombo, known as Lanka Hospitals in the present-day. Progressing in the industry, Dr. Iraivan took a career turn, which guided him to the position of the CEO of Browns Hospital, and eventually a Founder CEO of Melsta Health. “I’m proud of my career as I started as a mere Medical Officer and today, I have positioned myself as the Executive Director of two hospitals. It’s interesting, because I’m a Doctor by profession and my knowledge in business and management makes it even more interesting. Today, I’m the CEO of Melsta Health, which is a fully-owned subsidiary of Melstacorp PLC, a blue chip company in Sri Lanka. It acquired the management of the renowned and prestigious Joseph Fraser Memorial Hospital and renovated it to a hospital with high standards, and eventually acquired the Browns Hospital as well.” As claimed by Dr. Iraivan, the Melsta Hospitals Ragama, which is a subsidiary of Melsta Health, is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and reputed consultants from the Colombo North Teaching Hospital.
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He continued: “The most important factor is that we provide cost effective, excellent services to the customer. In the private Healthcare sector, the cost plays an integral role. Due to the prevailing situation, people find it difficult to meet the outer-pocket expenses for healthcare, therefore, Melsta Hospitals Ragama is offering the best possible healthcare solutions at a nominal price. I foresee that even the people in Colombo would come to Melsta Hospitals Ragama for their medical needs since the Colombo hospitals are becoming expensive.” Speaking of how Melsta Health has contributed to the battle against the COVID-19, the Doctor said, “The COVID-19 is a universal problem and has affected all institutions in general. Both, the Melsta Hospitals Ragama and the Joseph Fraser Memorial Hospital, have fought against this. Especially, at Melsta Hospitals Ragama we had a setback with a staff member being infected. However, the team at the Melsta Hospitals Ragama had successfully managed the situation and today, it is one of the safest hospitals in the country. We are extremely happy to say that the hospital staff and the management are aware of how to handle any critical situation with regard to any pandemic. And, both the hospitals have taken adequate precautions to safeguard the interest of the patients and the stakeholders.”
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LEISURE | Dr. K.T. Iraivan
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Dr. K.T. Iraivan | LEISURE
Emphasizing the key challenges faced by Melsta Hospitals Ragama when competing with other organizations in the same industry, Dr. Iraivan stated, “We have limitations with the availability of Consultants at Melsta Hospitals Ragama because it depends on the Consultants from the Colombo North Teaching Hospital. The other challenge we face is the spending capacity of the people in the area. Due to the low spending capacity, the hospital has taken measures to reduce the consultation and hospitalization fees while maintaining the quality. The consultation fees of Melsta Hospitals Ragama are the lowest in the industry and we are committed to offer the best services at affordable prices.” When questioned about how technology is shaping the Healthcare industry, the CEO said that technology in the Healthcare industry had always been challenged, especially, in the private sector due to the advancement in medical science with the invention of technology, and the diseases which prompts inventors to develop new technology. “The private Healthcare sector is quite competitive because technology has dominated the industry. People are becoming more demanding, thus, comparing the facilities of local and foreign hospitals. Therefore, the way of differentiating the Healthcare industry could be with technology and service standards, but like mobile phones, technology also keeps changing, so the investment becomes a challenge for the Healthcare administrator and the hospitals. It’s quite challenging but interesting,” he added.
Medical Tourism will boost a country’s economy while allowing the Medical professionals a more global exposure and experience in the procedures they perform. Elaborating the same, Dr. Iraivan stated, “Sri Lanka is in a better position now to promote Medical Tourism. I strongly believe that rather than promoting low-skilled foreign labour, Sri Lanka should promote its core strengths which is Tourism. Since the incumbent government has taken adequate steps to promote the Tourism industry, I believe, Sri Lanka can position itself as a destination for Medical Tourism. Since most of our Consultants and Doctors are trained in America, European countries and Australasian countries, the cost of medical treatment compared to hospitals in Southeast Asia is quite competitive and the quality of care is much better compared to the regional centers like India. I believe Medical Tourism could be promoted aggressively because most of the hospitals in Sri Lanka, especially in the private sector, have international accreditations such as JCI, Australian accreditations and ISO accreditations. Sri Lanka is in a much better position to promote Medical Tourism, even though there is a threat of COVID-19. The pandemic will end in the near future and the country should prepare itself to embrace the Medical Tourism sector which will bring foreign revenue, satisfaction, and credibility to the country.”
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HEALTH TAKEAWAYS FOR THE WORKING ENTREPRENEUR A LOOK AT THE HABITS AND DAILY ROUTINES THAT KEEP THE FARMER’S DOG CO-FOUNDERS JONATHAN REGEV (CEO) AND BRETT PODOLSKY (HEAD OF COMMUNITY) HEALTHY.
s co-founders of The Farmer’s Dog, the leading subscription-based fresh pet food brand, we spend a lot of our time thinking about the impact that food has on health and wellness. We launched The Farmer’s Dog after witnessing the health benefits of a fresh food diet on Brett’s Rottweiler, Jada. Since our nationwide launch in July 2016, we’ve delivered close to 3 million meals and have been blown away by the incredible effects that fresh, real food can have on our pets’ health. That said, it’s not surprising that we’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about how food impacts our own health and allows us to maximize our productivity as working entrepreneurs.
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LEISURE | Health Takeaways for the Working Enterprenuers
HERE ARE A FEW OF THE TIPS AND TRICKS THAT HAVE HELPED US OPTIMIZE OUR TIME AND STAY HEALTHY ALONG THE WAY: 1. CHOOSE REAL, WHOLE FOODS WHENEVER POSSIBLE SKIP THE PROCESSED STUFF OR ANYTHING THAT SPENDS MONTHS SITTING IN A BAG ON A SHELF. We know this is an optimal way for humans to eat, and the same thinking applies to our dogs. Just because a bag of pet food has the words “healthy” or “natural” on it and shows photos of ingredients, it doesn’t make it equivalent to real, fresh food. Would you eat a salad or steak that spent a year sitting on a shelf? We eat a lot of the same foods that go into The Farmer’s Dog recipes – fresh vegetables like kale, broccoli, and sweet potatoes, legumes like lentils and chickpeas, and high quality, lean protein like turkey are staples in our diets. And yes, we’ve both really tasted our dog food. 2. EAT CARBS (YES, REALLY) WE’RE TALKING REAL PASTA AND RICE. Before starting The Farmer’s Dog, Jonathan spent time living in Italy (where obesity rates are among the lowest in the world), and we both swear by a diet with plenty of high quality, fresh pasta and bread served alongside plenty of veggies. 3. GET MOVING – EVEN IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT TO THE GYM Grueling schedules and frequent travel make consistent gym visits challenging, but we’re both constantly on the go. We take phone calls while walking our dogs, Jada and Buddy, to a dog park near our Brooklyn office, and our office has become big fans of “walk and talks” (AKA walking meetings). Fresh air and a little movement does the body good and can help reset after hours sitting in front of a computer screen.
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Health Takeaways for the Working Enterprenuers | LEISURE
4. HYDRATION AND PREPARATION Brett starts every work day with a big water bottle on his desk, and refills it as soon as it’s halfway empty. He uses an app to track his water intake and likes to add lemon or fresh mint (grown in-office!) to help him stay hydrated. He’s also a fan of keeping fresh cut veggies in the fridge at all times. “I find that I get hungry at random times throughout my work day and always go for the foods that are most accessible,” Brett says. “Typically all of those foods are the processed ones. I started keeping fresh snacks prepared at all times so I can grab something smart in between meetings. It helps me avoid snacking on foods that I’ll regret eating later.” 5. THERE IS SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH COFFEE Caffeine is an essential ingredient for most working entrepreneurs, and we would be lying if we said otherwise. Still, we try to limit our coffee intake to 2 cups a day and switch to barley or fresh mint tea by the afternoon. This helps us from getting over-caffeinated and crashing in our afternoon meetings. As young entrepreneurs, we are typically in the office or at industry events most nights, but we make an effort to avoid that 5pm cortado. Caffeine late in the day can affect your sleep cycle, and our dogs wake us up early most mornings, ready for their fresh breakfast and for another day on the job.
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SHOWCASING THE INNOVATORS AND CHANGE MAKERS TO EXPLORE TODAY’S WORLD
IPHONE 12: APPLE MAKES JUMP TO 5G Apple has confirmed its iPhone 12 handsets will be its first to work on faster 5G networks. The company has also extended the range to include a new "Mini" model that has a smaller 5.4in screen. The U.S. firm bucked a wider industry downturn by increasing its handset sales over the past year. But some experts say the new features give Apple its best opportunity for growth since 2014, when it revamped its line-up with the iPhone 6. "5G will bring a new level of performance for downloads and uploads, higher quality video streaming, more responsive gaming, real-time interactivity and so much more," said Chief Executive Tim Cook. There has also been a cosmetic refresh this time round, with the sides of the devices getting sharper, flatter edges.
Sri Lanka’s Gateway to the World
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HUAWEI, ONEPLUS AND BEYOND: CHINA'S BIGGEST SMARTPHONE BRANDS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT
CORONAVIRUS: YOUTUBE BANS MISLEADING COVID-19 VACCINE VIDEOS
YouTube has pledged to delete misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines as part of a fresh effort to tackle COVID-19 misinformation. It said any videos that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities, such as the NHS or World Health Organization, will be removed. It follows an announcement by Facebook that it would ban ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated. However, that restriction will not apply to unpaid posts or comments
Apple, Samsung and Huawei have long been mainstays on the global smartphone leaderboard, but in recent years there's been a string of new players. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo might sound unfamiliar to most Americans, outside a tech-savvy bubble, but they're right up there with the world's top brands. While Samsung wears the crown as the world's largest smartphone company and Apple still pulls in the most profit, Chinese phone-makers have ascended rapidly worldwide and are displaying resilience amid the coronavirus pandemic. Huawei
surpassed Apple to become the world's second largest seller of smartphones last year, achieving this coveted milestone without selling any phones in the U.S., and briefly eclipsed Samsung in April. A Shenzhen-based phone company, Transsion, meanwhile, has overtaken Samsung as the No. 1 phone supplier in Africa since its launch there in 2018.
HOW CHINA USES FACIAL RECOGNITION TO CONTROL HUMAN BEHAVIOR Facial recognition supporters in the U.S. often argue that the surveillance technology is reserved for the greatest risks -- to help deal with violent crimes, terrorist threats and human trafficking. And while it's still often used for petty crimes like shoplifting, stealing $12 worth of goods or selling $50 worth of drugs, its use in the U.S. still looks tame compared with how widely deployed facial recognition has been in China.
VIDEO CALLING APP ZOOM HAS ANNOUNCED A SYSTEM TO LET PEOPLE PAY FOR LIVE "ONLINE EXPERIENCES". Called OnZoom, the new spin-off platform is launching in beta with live events for fitness, music and art online events. Zoom said it had "added event discovery and monetisation features" for online versions of "traditionally in-person events". Tickets can be sold for events with up to 1,000 attendees. That puts it in a segment of the market between major live-streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube, and one-on-one calls. Joseph Evans, Head of Technology at Enders Analysis, says the decision comes as things that people used to think had to be done in person have been forcibly moved online during lockdown. "People are doing reiki sessions online, yoga online, medical consultations over video calls," he explained.
WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE SASSANDA LIYANAARACHCHI
DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
AN EXPERIENCED PERSONALITY WITH A DEMONSTRATED HISTORY OF WORKING IN THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY, SKILLED IN NETWORK ROLLOUTS, NETWORK TRANSFORMATIONS, NETWORK INTEGRATIONS ACROSS VARIOUS TECHNOLOGIES AND NETWORK O&M WITH SPECIAL SKILLS FOR CUSTOMER SERVICES MANAGEMENT, PRIYANTHA FERNANDEZ JOINED THE SRI LANKA TELECOM PLC IN 1991, FOLLOWING HIS ROLES IN VARIOUS MULTINATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATION ORGANIZATIONS. HE HAS HELD A STRING OF SENIOR POSITIONS WITHIN SLT, CULMINATING IN HIS CURRENT POSITION AS THE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER.
riyantha holds a BSc (Eng.) in Electronics and Telecommunications from the University of Moratuwa, and an MBA from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, and is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Sri Lanka. He is a permanent member of the Technical Subcommittee reporting to the board of SLT since 2011, while also functioning as a Non-Executive Director of SLT Services Limited for over twelve years from 2007 to 2019.
On the topic of Digital Transformation, Priyantha stated, “I would call Digital Transformation a Social Revolution, and it has already started. I call it a Social Revolution because of the unlimited demands of millennials and their behaviours, and to face this, the Telecommunication organizations need to change in order to cater to the unlimited requirements. Accordingly, SLT has been evolving for the past 160 plus years. Change is inevitable, and we have to face it, and we are ready to face it.”
SLT is the national Information and Communications Technology solutions provider, and the leading broadband and backbone infrastructure services provider in Sri Lanka, evolving for over 162 years. SLT enables opportunities that empower Sri Lankans and elevates the country’s standing in the global arena. SLT’s transformation into a digital service provider has seen the organization move beyond telecommunications services to provide a variety of services and solutions that cater to a digital lifestyle. Above all, SLT is the only profit-making government owned company.
According to the COO, it is not innovation that has led to a Digital Transformation, but the high demands of the millennials who shaped the market to bring in it. Explaining the same, he mentioned about three major transformations which involved three generations and how a Digital Transformation evolved.
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LIVE-TECH | Priyantha Fernandez
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Priyantha Fernandez | LIVE-TECH
The First Generation - This includes the senior citizens. They faced the Industrial Revolution and their main concern was survival, with the limited job opportunities available. This generation had to consume what was available in the market. For example; during this time, Ford cars were manufactured in mass and customer care was not of a major concern, and once a car was purchased, it was used for a lifetime. In brief, they used a product for a prolonged period. The Second Generation - They saw the rise of the ICT Era. During this time, IT companies were booming and there was high demand for jobs. This generation was employed to further improve the basic standards of life, which were already established by the First Generation (Parents). During this time, customer care was a main focus to attract customers as there was an array of products in the market segments to choose based on the Product, Price, Promotion and Place (4P’s). The Economic Recession was faced by this generation and 2009-10 saw the fall of IT driven organizations as data became freely available on the internet. The Third Generation - This generation includes the millennials who want to stay connected online real time in order to stay active throughout the day, and they strive to achieve the quality of life, as the standards were already built by the Second Generation. They possess the basic requirements plus high-end products; therefore, their demands are vast, and require instant product or service delivery and are not attached to a specific brand or product. To keep up with the demands, market conditions changed, the Telecommunication industry was forced to transform, and it saw the rise of requirements for Digital Transformation to cater the requirements in the Social Transformation. As the COO, Priyantha is ready to face this transformation as he had already faced various chapters during his 32-year career, and hence, he can adapt to the evolving requirements of the society.
“Since I have been in the industry for long, I have gone through many transformations. It was the Analog Era when I accepted my duties as a young Engineer. During this era, we were striving to achieve the basic requirements of Voice Communication through the two wires. During the 1990s, the beginning of the Electronic Era, we transformed the Automatic Switching Networks with Electronically Programmed Exchanges. This was where international connectivities were done through satellite links. Satellite earth stations played a major role in bringing in the Global Village concept in the open economy, and our main focus was to cater to the Voice demand of the nation. Later, with time, emerged the ICT Era. I would call this era, the marriage between IT and Communication. During this period, we saw the rise of the IT and Software industry, and there was a massive demand for data. Then came the rise of the Internet, where people distanced themselves from Voice Communication and used the freely available data and OTT applications for their day-to-day activities. During this time, we had to transform our Voice related network architectures to Data related networks. Finally, we saw the rise of the Social Revolution, where people wanted more connectivity and real-time solutions.” Speaking of the benefits and drawbacks of the Digital Transformation, Priyantha stated that the main benefit is upon the customer as they can use online services for the day-to-day activities in fulfilling their instant demands. Citing an example, he stated that people can now connect to any site of leisure or any market in the world at minimal costs. On the other hand, it affected SLT as its services were focused on Voice Communication. “However, we anticipated this and transformed our network to provide broadband connections. Now our revenues are increasing as we are the number one fixed broadband provider with the highest BB speeds in Sri Lanka,” he proudly said. Stating the organization’s recent achievements in terms of Digital Transformation, Priyantha remarked, “SLT has not only concentrated on connectivity, but connectivity with high speed
bandwidth capability. This was resulted after the introduction of the ‘Fiber to the home’ technology, and we are leading in connecting people. In order to connect to the world, we used South East Asia- Middle East-Western Europe submarine (SEA-MEWE) cables; we partnered with Submarine cables SEA-ME-WE 3, SEA-ME-WE 4, and SEA-ME-WE 5, which are presently in operation. SEA-ME-WE 6 is the new cable and it will be connected to Sri Lanka in the near future in order to seamlessly connect our nation to the world with all high tech requirements for 5G. “We will convert SLT’s traditional network and IT architecture to a new generation architecture which will benefit in providing a faster service delivery. SLT will also be concentrating on Process Automation to provide services. In making processes automatic, technologies such as Robotic Process Automation, AI, and Data Analytics will be used. Through automation, employees will be empowered, and hence, we will be able to deliver services faster to provide a better experience to the customer.” Revealing the future plans of SLT, the COO stated that it will invest in providing the broadband connection to the village, so that the quality of lives of Sri Lankans can be uplifted. “We will also focus on digitalizing the other industry verticals. The Healthcare industry, Agriculture industry, Education industry, Transportation industry, Sports industry and other industries will benefit in delivering their services productively. For instance, we can provide online education to the people who find it hard to access cities. “Our main aim is to create a digital savvy nation, and as Sri Lanka is geographically well-situated, Sri Lanka could be a hub of connectivity to Southeast Asia. And if our human resource can be trained to be more IT savvy, Sri Lanka can be a place for production of IT and software products and services, and a researching location for software products, and could be used as a test bed for other nations in testing digital products – foreign revenue can be earned through this.”
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EVOKE INTERNATIONAL: A DIGITAL SUCCESS STORY FOR OVER 12 YEAR S
WORDS KESHALA DIAS
CAPTURE ARUNA UDAYA ALWIS
DESIGN ALOKE PERERA
HAVING REALIZED THE GROWING DEMAND FOR MOBILE-BASED ENTERTAINMENT SERVICES IN SRI LANKA, LAHIRU WICKRAMASINGHE, THE FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF EVOKE INTERNATIONAL LIMITED, HAS BUILT A SUCCESS STORY WITHIN THE DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT SPACE.
ahiru founded the company in 2008, with a simple idea of providing mobile Value-Added Services (VAS) to the Sri Lankan market. At that time, very few companies in Sri Lanka had the forward thinking and understanding of the importance of growing mobile internet penetration. Evoke, one such pioneer, definitely enjoyed the first mover advantage by taking the pioneering steps towards facilitating mobile VAS. Today, the company has diversified its product range and amassed 1.8 Million subscribers with a leading footprint in Caller Ring Back Tone services. “Evoke is an end-to-end solutions provider for the VAS market. Through affiliations with all the five major telecommunications providers in Sri Lanka, Evoke is the only company to own content and deliver them through their own platforms to businesses and users alike,” Lahiru remarked.
Evoke acts as a platform developer and a content aggregator for various movie and music apps offered by leading mobile telecommunication providers. Your favourite app to download or listen to Sinhala or Tamil songs, could be a platform either developed by Evoke or a platform to which Evoke is the content partner. Evoke also caters for mobile and web based VAS platforms that facilitate Media services, quiz competitions and gaming services. Elaborating on the organization’s product diversification, Lahiru stated, “As of now, we have 30 plus products in the market. We have a dynamic team and we introduce new products when we foresee changes in market trends.” Evoke is also the exclusive digital distribution partner for Hungama, which is one of South Asia’s largest Digital media platforms and content aggregators. Evoke has a prestigious eight year long relationship with Hungama. Hungama has a content library consisting of over 15 Million Bollywood and international content consisting of latest songs, music videos, games, and movies.
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LIVE-TECH | Lahiru Wickramasinghe
Evoke’s YouTube channel ‘Evoke Music’ occupies the top position among YouTube channels in the Music category. The channel has over 470,000 subscribers and some of the most popular songs from the top artists in the island. Evoke’s diversified portfolio of products and services coupled with its exclusive content portfolio, adds further value. It has access to international content, movies, teledramas, songs, and music videos, and is one of the largest catalogue owners for Sinhala language content. “Simply, we have something for everyone while having our own platforms to cater to our customers,” Lahiru added. Unlike many tech startups who vanish after a few years, Evoke is a success story, which has transitioned into a profitable venture. The company generates over LKR 200 Million of revenues and has maintained healthy net profit margins. Evoke is further looking to stretch its boundaries by expanding into Bangladesh and the Middle East. The Company is in the process of duplicating one of its local celebrity platforms in Bangladesh which has a large celebrity fan following with a little over 60% of the population (96 Million) having internet access (source: internetworldstats). Evoke also plans to expand its footprint to the Middle East where a large number of Sri Lankan expatriate workers are longing to connect with their home country and its musical and cultural content. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world that is likely to have lasting effects. As a consequence, the present situation has positively impacted Evoke, even though there’s
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a negative impact on many businesses around the world. Speaking about the same, the CEO revealed, “Since everyone has limited mobility and mostly limited to the confines of their home, the only entertainment platform becomes their mobile devices. As our services are designed to provide the user with all kinds of entertainment through their mobile phones and laptops, we experienced a large growth and consumption of our products and content. “We are more than ready and prepared!” exclaimed Lahiru when asked about the organization’s readiness to adapt to the future of entertainment. “With our upcoming products, we are excited to enter new markets by providing entertainment to all who use our products and services. And, partnering with all the telecommunication operators in Sri Lanka makes our services accessible through any mobile device.”
Lahiru Wickramasinghe | LIVE-TECH
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“Ambition is the path to success; persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.” SHAMEER RASOOLDEEN
Consumers and the world are constantly changing. It’s important for Marketers to be flexible, think ahead and try to stay “I practice what I ahead of consumer preach.” movements. Enjoy what you do and act FOUZUL HAMEED with passion. FIONA JURIANSZ MUNASINGHE
“Digitally transforming the local entertainment industry while enriching the digital space over the last 12 years.” LAHIRU WICKRAMASINGHE
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“The only certain thing during this period seems to be uncertain socioeconomic conditions and as a sector that has faced many challenging situations before, we are confident of rising above this challenge as well.” S. RENGANATHAN
“I’m a firm believer that innovative ideas move the world forward.” MANIK AMIRTHANAYAGAM
“Believe in a more greater power and the goodness. Give thanks each night and wake up with a purpose every morning and life will be worth living.” PRADEEP AMIRTHANAYAGAM
"Learn to lead without a title, so leadership won't become a burden down the line." PESHALA WIJEWARDANA
“This crisis must bring out the best in us. We need to listen, care, support, recalibrate and be pillars of hope and positivity.”
“To be successful, you have to use each day as an opportunity to improve, to be better, to get a little bit closer to your dreams. It might sound like a lot of work and with a busy schedule, almost impossible. But the best part is, the more you achieve, the more you will want to do, the higher you will want to reach. So, as long as you have the hunger for success, you will always have the power within you to achieve it; nothing can stop your journey.”
“Digital is the key platform that transforms the nation to realize economic and social benefits online "A good life is always in real-time. The assured when you do current pandemic something you love is an opportunity DR. IRAIVAN K. to do." to develop new THIYAGARAJAH business models and ROHAN RAJARATNAM speed up the digital transformation. Online markets and e-commerce will bring digital experience for customers while achieving social distancing in day-today activities.” PRIYANTHA FERNANDEZ
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