The three-day workshop on strategic leadership by the world’s number one custom executive education provider, Duke CE, organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) concluded successfully recently with representatives from top corporates taking part in the intensive program.
Representatives from leading private and public organisations including Commercial Bank, SLT, DIMO and the Central Bank took part in the program on ‘Strategic Leadership: Leading Effective Execution in Uncertain Times,’ which was conducted by two leading foreign experts on strategy, Dr. Liz Mellon and Prof. Nikhil Raval.
During the program, Dr. Mellon and Prof. Raval edified participants on how to transform strategy into action, inspire teams to effectively execute strategy, build an organisation-wide structure for implementing strategy, overcome the strategic challenges that arise in current turbulent business climates, close the gap between strategy and execution, transform a firm from a ‘can’t do’ attitude to a ‘can do’ culture and recognise and avoid the inertia that impedes strategy execution.The high profile participants list included top corporate leaders, senior professionals and project managers.
The first ever smart card for a Sri Lankan workforce is fitted with no less than NFC touch technology; yet another new leap in electronic payments in Sri Lanka. The state sector outlay for the initiative is a surprisingly minimal $ 7600.
“I am pleased that our hard work of past several months to finalise this smart card has shown good results, with the lowest costs. We thank our partners Channel 17 and Mobitel. It is time we compensate our workforce well and we are starting with the workforce that makes Sri Lanka a global brand; Sri Lanka apparel employees,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 29 October in Colombo.
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the special meeting held at his Ministry on 29 October with his top officials including Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Anura Siriwardena, apparel sector reps and other stakeholders to acknowledge and inspect the “Pranama Smart Card”; the Privilege card for Sri Lanka’s 350,000 strong apparel workforce of all ranks, jointly by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Channel 17, and Mobitel.
The card initially will enlist 16 private merchants-such as Singer, Unilever, Cargills, Mobitel, DSI, Abans, Sampath Bank, NoLimit, Hutch, Delmege, TVS, MRF Tyres, Rainco, Anton and ICL, among others, to give special rates on their products and services to 350000 strong apparel workforce here.
Upon producing the card at any of these merchant’s retail stores/sales points, the apparel employee becomes entitled to additional discounts and bargains (ranging from 2% to 15%) on top of the already declared/advertised discounts or rates by the merchant for the general consumer market.
For example, at Sampath Bank, card holding apparel employees would be given 1% extra interest on their savings in addition to the prevailing rates made available to regular customers, 10% additional discounts by Ceylinco Insurance in addition to rates of regular consumers, and 7.5% additional discount for shoes at DSI.
The card will use the advanced closed-system of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology by Mobitel, in that the transaction takes place as soon as the card touches the surface of the Point of Sale (POS) Terminal of the vendor/supermarket. The closed-system NFC platform for this card is provided by Mobitel.
“We have secured agreements with the first 16 merchants for the next three years and we will expand this number later on. The card can support the most frequent consumer need in terms of day-to-day shopping and FMCG needs of the apparel employees.
“The benefits of the card are not limited to the card holding apparel employee only. It can be used by all members of the family. The pilot project involving 10,000 apparel employees of all ranks is now scheduled to start in mid-November in five selected apparel firms in Kandy and Kurunegala Districts.
“After testing is over, we expect to equip the entire 350,000 apparel workforce of the country with the final version of Pranama Privilege Card by November 2014. We thank the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Minister as well as Mobitel for their partnership in this,” said the developer of the project Jumar Preena who is also the CEO of Channel 17, a fully integrated marcom agency in Colombo.
The apparel sector immediately lauded praise on Minister Bathiudeen. “We thank you for the on-going leadership and encouragement to finish this project and at this level of technology,” Secretary-General of JAAF Tuli Cooray said, addressing Minister Bathiudeen.
“As a result, today we are able to introduce the first workforce discount card in the country,” Cooray stressed.
By Cheranka Mendis
At the age of 18, few of us have a clear plan of what we want to do when we leave school, let alone a map of where we will be within the next five to 10 years. While there are dreams and aspirations, few things seem as important as passing the next set of exams, getting out of school and getting on with life.
This is what sets Chinthaka Jayaweera apart from the rest of us.
At 41, he is the Vice President and Head of Group Internal Audit for the Global 500 company A.P. Moller-Maersk, a Danish business conglomerate spread across more than 130 countries, specialising in the industries of transportation and energy. With four key business under its umbrella – Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Maersk Oil and Maersk Drilling – which account for 71% of the company’s revenue, Maersk has built an opportunistic core consisting of companies such as Damco, Svitzer, Maersk Tankers and Maersk Supply Services to complement the key business lines while branching out to strategic investments in a supermarket chain that operates over 1,300 retail stores in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Poland, and a 20% stake in Danske Bank.
Jayaweera has made his mark in the company and is recognised as one of the few Sri Lankans who have reached top managerial heights in Fortune 500 companies. Plan, target, achieve What makes him special – what does he have that many others don’t? “It is discipline,” Jayaweera expressed. “I was extremely structured when I was younger and had a clear plan of where I wanted to be within a particular number of years. Despite challenges I strived hard to achieve my goals, never wavering and never backing down.”
A student of Royal College (having received his primary education at Mahanama College), at 18 Jayaweera knew exactly where he wanted to be within the next 17 years. “When I was 18, I prepared a plan for the next 17 years. In that plan I went to the extent of drawing a flowchart of the type of education I wanted to pursue, type of positions I wanted to take up and the contributions I wanted to make.”
So did he manage to stick to the timeline of his plans? “It hasn’t gone as planned,” he acknowledged, with a big smile, a trademark we later find that defines this modest man who takes on enormous responsibilities, “but I would say it has gone much faster than I planned”. Having always wanted to participate in an organisation with an international background, Jayaweera’s first encounter with Maersk came in 1992 during his two-year stint at KPMG. As a trainee handling management consulting work and auditing, Maersk was one his clients. After three years in investment banking, he joined Maersk in Sri Lanka as Assistant General Manager for Finance in 1997. This was the beginning of an illustrious career, with massive career leaps.
His story at Maersk Nine months into the job as AGM Finance handling all finance tasks for the two business units here – Maersk Line and Damco – he was promoted to the position of General Manager responsible for finance, IT, human resources and administration, while serving the company as Company Secretary. Three years on, he was appointed as Country Manager of Damco, the logistics arm of the company. Within the next three years Jayaweera concentrated on transforming the company and improving its position both here and abroad. Having achieved this successfully, his attention was then drawn to the head office, which at the same time was looking for someone to head their business audit function.
“With my past experience at KPMG and finance background from CIMA, coupled with my experience as Country Finance Manager and commercial experience of a Country Manager, I decided that this was a good combination to present myself with and go for a broader contribution.” In 2004 he moved to Denmark to set up the business audit function there as General Manager. “Soon after, I was appointed as Senior General Manager with additional responsibilities of another business; then as Director with business control responsibility for Maersk Line and as a Senior Director thereafter, where I was part of the Maersk Line Global Finance Leadership team. I was also the Finance Business Process Owner for the Maersk Line global organisation.” He was made Vice President a year ago. “In terms of career progression, it has been an interesting journey,” Jayaweera admitted. “Each position has been a challenge. Every time I have undertaken a new role, I have felt that I was taking an enormous step.”
Motivated and driven by challenges which for him are a positive factor, he noted that one of the key success factors as Vice President was understanding and having deep insight to the business at all times. The more you know about the business, the better prepared you are for challenges.
“During the first year I experienced a steep learning curve and have tried to learn as much as possible about the businesses in the group. From our function we give assurance to the Audit Committee and Chairman of the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group Board that the risks are well managed. So it’s about keeping an ear on the ground and eye on the biggest risks and giving feedback on how we manage the risks,” he explained.
“I don’t know what inspired me to do this,” he remarked, commenting on what drove him to plan so far ahead and to achieve his goals. “I think it was always wanting to make a greater contribution to the world.”
Planning has helped him by giving him a clear sense of direction. “I am not swayed by what happens around me – of course I learn and change my direction as needed, but I know where I am going, I know where I want to go.”
So what plans for the next few years, we ask. “Right now having taken on a big position in the group, my immediate focus is to learn more about the business and contribute to take it to a completely new level,” Jayaweera said, adding, “I am also someone who likes challenges and I am positively motivated in the face of a challenge; this is when I get the best out of myself. That has been a motivational factor for me – working with challenges.”
His secret to success
“If you were to ask me what my biggest secret to success is, I would say it is my ability to balance things in life,” he volunteered. “I think this is something I do extremely well.”
Balancing has helped him achieve what he wanted to achieve in all aspects of life – beyond just his career. When he speaks of balancing, it includes career, education, family, social interaction, health, etc. Even now he has a yearly plan, in which goals have been made under each aspect.The general thinking is that it is easy to make plans but not so easy to follow through. But Jayaweera easily defies this with discipline and control. “It is discipline,” he reiterates. “It is also understanding what is most important to you and spending time on what really matters.”
For example, Jayaweera has made it a point to start the day at the gym. At home, he wakes up at 5 a.m. and after corresponding on his private emails and catching up on the world news, he heads over to the gym. However, his work keeps him on his toes and often than not he is travelling the world for business meetings. But, as disciplined as he is, even after a 14-hour flight, the first thing he does when he goes to the hotel is go to the gym. “It is about self discipline and doing what you really must do. This gives you the balance you need.”
Why this balance is so important is that it helps him derive energy from different sources – from family, health, hobbies, career, etc. “This has without doubt helped me immensely.”
Was it something inculcated by his parents? He cannot remember. “I guess I had it from a very small age because I can never remember my parents having to ask me to do anything. I have always known what I wanted and had the discipline to go ahead and do it,” Jayaweera reflected. “As I have progressed I have achieved a better balance than my early years in the career.”
What drives him?
What drives him is his desire to make a contribution to the world, to give back while testing his boundaries and pushing himself forward. “I want to constantly push my limits and do better and this is what keeps me going.”
After moving to Denmark, something he has really learnt to enjoy is skiing. He religiously visits the slopes every year with his family. “Skiing is tough,” Jayaweera asserted. “You are on your own, on a mountain and sometimes the mountains are really steep and the snow and wind conditions are difficult. Every day you test yourself. You do better and better.” But it is also fun, he acknowledged, noting that having some time to cool off and have fun was as important as working hard.
Learning from the best
He has never tried to emulate someone nor has he had a single role model or idol at any given time; he chose to learn from everyone around him instead – the mighty and the simple – by incorporating the good qualities he saw in them into his life.
To improve his presentation skills, Jayaweera likes to watch Bill Clinton delivering presentations while from sports personalities he cites German racing driver Michael Schumacher. “I have enjoyed following how he became successful year after year and went on to become a seven-time Formula One World Champion,” he said.
“I don’t particularly look for people who achieved so much in life as role models. I think I learn more from simple people. Very simple people have a lot of good values. The friends that I have come from diverse backgrounds and in each person there is something to learn. I try to focus on what I can learn from people around me.”
Having associated with people from all walks of life, Jayaweera is also known to have led 30 plus nationalities in his department in the past. “People were joking that it is perhaps more diverse than the UN office in Denmark. And it is absolutely fantastic – the cultural diversity and what you learn from one another changes your outlook in life.”
Points to note for aspiring Sri Lankans If another Sri Lankan aspires to become part of a Fortune 500 company, what exactly should they do? “You have to be yourself, it is really important. Don’t try to be someone else. If you walk in the footsteps of someone else, you will always be second,” Jayaweera asserted, without hesitation.
You have to decide on what you want out of your life and give it the best – dedication, discipline and determination is important, he emphasised. What is even important is to have strong values. It is not success at any cost. It is having good values and living accordingly that is most important. “Success can be measured in many shapes and forms. For me, success isn’t just reaching a senior level in a global 500 company. Being successful is being happy. It doesn’t matter where you are.”
Jayaweera concluded: “Decide what you want in life, have clear plans but be flexible to change if necessary based on your learning. Do what you like, it doesn’t matter what it is. You shouldn’t live someone else’s dream, live your own dream – and make it happen.”
hSenid Business Solutions in collaboration with Deloitte Consulting hosted a breakfast forum on “Succession Management- A critical factor for business sustainability” on the 23rdof October 2013 at Hilton Colombo Residence. Mr. Mario Ferraro, Director of Human Capital Consulting Team in Deloitte Southeast Asia, presented the importance of succession planning in today’s times and how to implement a successful succession planning framework using technology. Over 30 CEOs, Chairmen and HR Directors from over 25 leading organisations in Sri Lanka were present at this event.
A panel discussion on succession management was then facilitated by Dr. Ajantha Dharmasiri. Several key issues regarding talent management and succession management were raised and discussed during this session.
I feel like I’m a little out of my element when it comes to giving recruiting advice. While I’ve written over 700 posts on leadership and leadership development, I tend to steer clear of hiring topics and defer to the real experts, like Jennifer McClure, my friends at Fistful of Talent and a gazillion others in this space.
But I’ve done my share of hiring over the last 25 years. I’ve whiffed on a few, for sure. Like the time I hired a trainer with a master’s degree and a great resume over another with “only” an associate’s and less experience. I should have paid attention when I heard candidate A actually swore at someone during a training program. That’s what happens when you fall in love with a candidate’s stellar credentials, you tend to ignore those red flags.
She ended up swearing at me a few times, too. Live and learn.
Fortunately, I’ve more recently hired some great employees. I’m sure there was some dumb luck involved, but I’ve also picked up a few best practices over the years that may work for you as well. I’m sure you have too, so please feel free to share a comment.
1. Commit to investing time and get personally involved. HR and recruiters can be a valuable resource (if you have them), but the most important person involved in the process is the hiring manager. You need to clear time on your calendar over the next several weeks to invest in the process. Unless you work in a high-turnover business, we don’t get the opportunity to hire very often. One bad or good hire can make or break your team. The cost of a bad hire can run in the six figures!
2. Have a clearly defined position description. It all starts with being clear on what type of skills and experiences will be important to the role. Having a clear profile will help screen people when you advertise the position, develop your interview questions and selection criteria, provide direction for onboarding and further development, and for other HR stuff like pay grade and performance evaluation.
3. Create a talent funnel. Cast a wide net, and then narrow the pool through resume and application review and phone screens. For one position, a good rule of thumb would be 100 candidates, 10 phone screens, five final candidates for in-depth interviews, and one hire.
The time to start recruiting is before there’s an opening. The best candidates come through networking and personal referrals, especially if those referrals are great employees (great employees know and attract other great employees).
4. Phone screens. I like doing my own phone screens. They only take about 30 minutes each, and I’m not relying on secondhand information. In a phone screen I’m looking for motivation, fit, and salary requirements. I like to handle the money part right in the beginning, so as not to waste the candidate’s time or my own.
5. Use a structured interview guide. I use the Topgrading “CIDS” interviewing technique (or Chronological In-Depth Structured Interview). I learned the Topgrading hiring method from Brad Smart at my last company and since I’ve been using it, I’ve dramatically improved my ability to hire “A players.” I like it because it gives me structure, candidates find it less stressful than making up answers to the more commonly used behavioral-based interview questions (“tell me about a time when you …”), and it works like a charm!
The important thing is to use some kind of structured interview guide — a consistent set of questions that allows you to really assess the character of a candidate. Don’t think you can just pull out the candidate’s resume 10 minutes before the interview and wing it! It never works, and you end up looking like a buffoon.
6. Resiliency and a track record of success. These are the most important things I’m looking for in a candidate. I want to know how they’ve handled themselves during tough times and see a pattern of measurable achievements from one job to the next.
7. Hire for competence and “likability.” This is just my personal preference, but at the end of the day, I want to work with people I like. I want them to be a good fit for my team, and to be able to get things done without ticking people off. Life is too short; you may as well enjoy the people you work with. Of course, competency is important; I’m just saying look for both.
8. Do your own reference checks. Another technique I learned from Topgrading is to let final candidates know up front that I’d like to talk to at least three of their former bosses. I ask them to contact these bosses and get their permission. When they know upfront I’ll be talking to their former bosses, it’s like truth serum! I’ve never had a former boss refuse to talk to me. If they won’t, it should be a red flag. Bosses of A players love to sing their praises. Bosses of C players will hide behind company HR policy, or use vague weasel words to describe their former employee.
I always ask what the employee’s strengths and weaknesses were “at the time they worked for you.” This not only gives me valuable information to confirm what the candidate has told me, along with my own assessment, but it also gives me insights to use to coach and develop my new employee.
9. Cycle time. I absolutely blows my mind when I hear about hiring processes that drag out for months and months. We did a cycle time study at one of my former companies, and guess what the No. 1 bottleneck in the hiring process turned out to be? The hiring manager! Great candidates are not going to wait around. Set a goal to get it done in six to eight weeks, from posting to final decision.
10. Onboarding. While technically not a part of the hiring process, way too many managers fall down when it comes to the onboarding process. Everyone remembers their first day and week on the job, good or bad, and I’ve heard some horror stories! Make it special for the employee — decorate their office/work space, send out an announcement, make sure they have a phone a computer on day one, and put together a detailed two-week plan and higher-level 90-day plan.
What else would you recommend when it comes to hiring great employees?
By Dan McCarthy