Breaking the Cloud Ceiling
Dushy Jayaweera, Managing Director, Acorn Aviation
by Zanita Careem
With today’s focus on International Women’s Day, there is no better time to discuss the current status of women in one of the most critical segments of the travel industry—Aviation.
Breaking the Cloud Ceiling and at the helm of Acorn Aviation is Dushy Jayaweera, a dynamic personality in the airline industry, with seventeen airline representations under her purview, across Sri Lanka and the two regional offices in the Maldives and Thailand. She has proven that leadership skills are not defined by gender, but instead by capability and commitment.
Tell us a little bit about your journey in the Airline industry?
I have always had a fascination for the airline industry from a very young age, when as a teenager I witnessed the process and checks for departing passengers at the airport and vowed that one day I would be able to go through those barriers with ease onto the other side. Years later I debated with the thought of joining the National Carrier as Cabin Crew to accomplish this but decided instead to join the General Sales Agency of a leading Airline at their City Office.
I have not looked back since then and 40 years later, I am still in the same industry with no regrets and where professionalism, passion, dedication, empathy and hard work was the only way to accomplish anything.
Due to the pandemic that took the world by surprise in early 2020, the Tourism and Aviation industry were the first to be impacted with a tremendous downturn in business. How did this impact your work?
The downside was that the airlines we represent temporarily stopped their flights to Sri Lanka, as our borders were initially closed for all incoming passengers. We had a staff cadre of over 50, with an organizational culture of being results-driven through professionalism, integrity, and innovation. I would say that the team was stretched to deliver results while adapting to the new norm including ‘Work from Home’. We are also blessed to have created a group of world class managers who are empowered to carry out their functions with clear guidance. Many options were looked at, with identified deliverables to tide us through these unprecedented times.
Our industry is volatile with many challenges coming our way daily. The team, motivated through their Managers, firmly believe that we cannot leave any stone unturned. Looking back at the past year, it is with pride that I could say that not only have we secured new representations, but we have also ensured that we looked at new business opportunities that had not been explored pre-pandemic.
In 2018, IATA reported that only 3% of the world’s top 100 airline groups have a female CEO, meaning a whopping 97% of airlines are led by men. Why are there so few women in management positions in the Airline industry?
Ours is a service industry, which means that we are on call 24/7. This is irrespective of grade or gender. It is not easy to have a work-life balance especially when you are a female. You need to make many sacrifices, as sometimes your work comes first. Secondly, you also need a very empathetic spouse who would support you to ensure that your children also learn to understand and appreciate the commitments their mother has in her workplace. Finally, you need a very supportive work environment on the part of the company, also giving you the space and flexibility you need when it comes to focusing on your family. This is a win-win combination that is not always present in every organization. I was blessed to have a combination of all, in order to get to where I am today.
What are some of the challenges you have faced working in the airline industry?
I usually enjoy the challenges that each day has to offer and take each one of them with the thrill of overcoming each with complete perfection or at least near perfection! Being a female in my position where I am required to be a role model has not always been easy. You need to make your voice heard at many forums, which could be male dominated. The pandemic has not been easy, due to the many challenges. The responsibility of heading a regional office in the Maldives and being on the board of a JV partnership in Thailand has also had its fair share of hurdles to overcome.
However, this industry gets to you and personally I tend to multi-task and have disciplined my thought process to always look for options and have a positive mindset as I take my responsibilities seriously.
What are some of the perks that come with working in an industry which is perceived as being extremely ‘glamorous’?
The industry has opened the doors for many opportunities at a global level, one of which is that I am a member of Skal International, which is an international organization of Travel and Tourism Professionals. Membership in the organization has been a rewarding experience as it gives you so many opportunities to interact with different nationalities across the globe. Being elected as a Director to the Asian Area Board which overlooks 44 clubs in the Asian region has enabled me to gain insights to the thinking of many like-minded professionals in the region.
Additionally, the multi-representation model we have created in our Company, also gives me a very rewarding experience of getting to meet and interact with Principals of varying cultures and business processes. In short, you are continuously learning, while having the opportunity to travel overseas and visiting many countries which adds onto your travel journal, enriches your personality and level of confidence.
Would you affirm the statement that ‘Diversity adds value’?
Employees will have different characteristics and backgrounds; they are also more likely to have a variety of different skills and experiences. The Aviation Industry, especially in the General Sales Agency business, keeps us on our toes as we need to be creative, be quick at problem solving and decision making, be innovative and have higher employee engagement and retention. I am a firm believer that this combination within the organization drives results as well as ensuring that the reputation of our company continues to grow.
How have you served as a role model for other women in business?
I have hopefully paved the way for women in leadership roles through my achievements in the various forums that I have associated myself. I was elected as the first female President of the Sri Lanka-Malaysia Business Council which was previously a thoroughly male dominated council. I was entrusted and empowered to lead this council which is under the aegis of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. This breakthrough also ensured that my successor in this council was also a female. I was also the first female President of the Sri Lanka Travel Trade Sports Club comprising members of all the verticals of the Travel, Leisure and Aviation industries, which is undoubtedly a male dominated area. By breaking through these cloud ceilings, I have ensured that women would get the opportunity to continue to follow in my footsteps.
In addition, I am also a Past President of the Sri Lanka Association of Airline Representatives and Skal International Colombo. Being at the helm of the various associations and business councils in addition to my responsibilities in office and at home, is not an easy task, as this too adds to fine tuning one’s many multi-tasking skills that needs to be developed.
To say there is a scarcity of women in aviation would be an understatement. Yet, women have made some noteworthy and important strides in this arena as well, that are worth recognizing and Dushy is one such individual who has overcome the challenges and successfully broken the ‘cloud ceiling’
Live healthily and say yes to avocado
What Is an Avocado? An avocado is a bright green fruit with a large pit and dark leathery skin. They’re also known as alligator pears or butter fruit. Avocados are a favorite of the produce section. They’re the go-to ingredient for guacamole dips.
Avocado or more popularly called ‘Butter Fruit’ in India is a rich creamy flavoured fruit that has loads of health benefits associated with it. This super fruit is available in different varieties and all of it has one thing in common i.e its creamy taste. This is considered a super fruit because it improves digestion, prevents cancer, helps in weight loss and good for your heart.
Apart from this, this super fruit also aids in good skin health and helps improve your vision. The lutein content found in this fruit protects your skin from ageing. Thus, this super fruit comes packed with antioxidants, fibres, vitamins and minerals including a high source of potassium.
Worldwide, this fruit is known as ‘Alligator Pears’ and this fruit is treated as a luxury in most countries of the world. This is because it contains low levels of cholesterol that can do good for your heart as well as aids in weight loss. Moreover, this article will focus on the health benefits that this super fruit offers including some of its nutritional facts that can make this a luxury fruit.
Facts about Avocado (Butter Fruit):
Apart from the fact that this fruit offers loads of health benefits, there are certain interesting facts that you need to know about this fruit. Here are some must-know facts about butter fruit.
This sacred fruit has the ability to maintain sperm quality and this is because it houses healthy fats, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. Moreover, its content of vitamin B6 and selenium is said to prevent sperm damage.
This super fruit is low in cholesterol that can prevent you from the risks of developing heart diseases.Avocados contain four grams of protein that makes this fruit the highest of protein content.
Avocado trees bear fruit and survive only when there is another avocado tree next to them. This means that these avocado trees do not self-pollinate and do require another of its kind close to them in order to grow.
Health Benefits of Avocado for Health and Skin:
There have been numerous studies in the past that have listed out some of the health benefits of butter fruit and why this fruit is considered a super fruit. Thus, here are some health benefits of avocado that you should know.
Rich in Potassium:
Potassium is much-needed for the human body but most people do not get it enough and this is because of the sort of food we get today. This nutrient helps your body’s cells in numerous ways. Just 100 grams of butter is more than enough for your body to reap all of its benefits. It said to have a much higher source of potassium than bananas meaning this fruit is said to have a high source of potassium that is usually found in bananas. Potassium levels maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
Good For Your Heart:
Beta-sitosterol is the major compound found in avocados and this helps in maintaining good cholesterol levels. In some studies that involved lab rats, avocados that were given for 5 weeks continuously witnessed 27% lower triglyceride’s plasma levels in HDL cholesterol which is a good thing. Based on this finding, it is said that consuming at least 100 grams of avocado can protect you from many heart diseases.
Good For Digestion:
Avocados aids in good digestion as this super fruit is said to be good for your intestine. This is because this fruit contains soluble and insoluble fibres that maintain and keep your intestines functioning with ease. These fibres are necessary for digestion as they ensure that you have bulk stools and normal bowel movements through the intestinal tract.
Good For Skin and Hair:
This super fruit comes packed with nutrients that can help you maintain a healthy skin texture. So if your skin is dry, then you need to drink some avocado juice and this helps your skin develop a glowing texture. This will also nourish your hair and treat dry hair.
You can also prepare an avocado face mask and this will benefit your skin in a much faster manner. You can also use avocado oil that is available in the market for treating psoriasis. The two major components found in avocados are beta-carotene and lycopene and these components help improve your skin tone and prevent premature ageing.
Improves Your Vision:
Avocados help keep your eyes healthy as they contain carotenoids that help protect your eyes from developing cataracts, age-related eye issues and macular degeneration. This fruit is rich in antioxidants and this helps to neutralise the effects caused by free radicals. Moreover, in order to develop your vision, you need to consume some avocado juice every day. Just 100 grams of avocado can do the trick.
Natural Painkiller for Arthritis:
This super fruit comes packed with loads of antioxidants that can relieve you from joint pain and muscle pain. How difficult would it be to drink a glass of avocado juice? So, here is what you need to do. Simply drink a glass of avocado juice every day and you can ease out the joint pain that you are suffering from.
Prevents Bad Breath:
Consuming avocados can prevent you from having a breath that is caused due to indigestion or an upset stomach. So how does this super fruit do this? Well, this is because of the antibacterial and antioxidant properties in the fruit that manage to kill bad bacteria in your mouth. Also, butter fruit can prevent oral cancer too.
Prevents You From Cancer:
Avocado is said to prevent you from cancer due to its carotenoid and monosaturated fat content. Glutathione is the major antioxidant that protects your cells from cancer and other free radicals that can cause cancer. Medically speaking, this sacred fruit can prevent you from prostate cancer, oral cancer and skin cancer. So all you need to do is to make it a point to just consume a glass of avocado juice and this will do you good.
One of the most striking diseases that most people around the world are facing is heart diseases. Some of the reasons for people developing heart diseases are cholesterol, inflammation and blood pressure. Moreover, avocado prevents heart diseases by:
Reducing cholesterol levels
Reducing blood triglycerides by 20%
Reduces LDL cholesterol by 22%
Increases HDL or good cholesterol by 11%
Aids in Anti-Ageing:
Avocado contains zeaxanthin and lutein decreases signs of premature ageing by protecting your skin from UV radiation. Applying avocado oil or consuming it can benefit your skin and prevent it from ageing. Its high source of antioxidant properties such as lutein and zeaxanthin play an important role in maintaining skin from the sun’s rays and aids in better and younger skin.
Good For Your Bones:
The lutein and zeaxanthin content present in avocado reduces your chances for cartilage defects. Zinc, copper and phosphorous, calcium and selenium reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis. Instead, these minerals help in improving bone density. So all you need to do is just sip a glass of avocado juice and this will help keep your bones strong.
Aids In Weight Loss:
Avocado is called a super fruit because this can also aid in weight loss and this is because avocado curbs your appetite. One glass of avocado juice can curb your appetite and this will stop you from munching now and then. Constant munching and crunching of food can lead to weight gain and as a result, this sacred fruit can curb that. Adding this healthy fruit to your everyday diet can help you consume fewer calories and this will make you feel full.
Now that you know that avocado or butter fruit is a healthy fruit that can a lot more good to your health than you can ever think of, here are some frequently asked questions that will shed some insight into the negatives of consuming this fruit in excess.
What happens if I consume too much butter fruit?
You need to understand that what is good for your health may turn out to be a nightmare for you if it is consumed in excess. So the excessive consumption of avocado causes:
Sensitivity to light; and
It is advised that you consume at least 100 grams of avocado every day and this will do good.
What are the benefits of avocado oil?
If the avocado has loads of benefits, then avocado oil is said to be even more beneficial, especially for your skin. Here are some of the benefits of avocado oil.
It moisturises and nourishes your skin.
Fights inflammation in the skin, especially psoriasis and eczema.
It is the best natural treatment for acne.
Prevents premature ageing.
Keeps your scalp healthy.
Can avocado oil be used for cooking?
Avocado oil can be used for cooking purposes like frying cooking etc. It is considered healthy as this will reduce your risks of developing heart diseases. This will add to your healthy lifestyle and will benefit your health in multiple ways.
Avocado is a seasonal fruit similar to mango and this is considered a super fruit that can benefit your health in multiple ways. You need to keep in mind that excessive consumption of butter fruit can cause other medical complications such as migraines, nausea and problems with eyesight. In order to get the best out of avocados, all you need to do is to consume at least 100 grams of it daily. Live healthily and say yes to avocado. –The Health
Modern and contemporary styles in keeping with today’s trends
Managing Director of Widac Commercial Interiors, Chandi Alles is a pioneer in the field of Design. She started her career in New Zealand and returned to Sri Lanka at which point Widac ventured into offering its clients a total interior solution from design to fit out.
Steering Widac’s Projects Division, the Company has participated in many exhibitions and have won prestigious awards locally and internationally.She has an experience of 30 + years in the industry, and has been involved in working with clients that span over all segments of businesses in the commercial sector. Her passion for designs has helped to transform spaces to functional and practical working environments.
To mark 50th anniversary of partnership with Steelcase,Widac organised a CSR project to distribute wheel chairs prostatic legs and dry rations to the needy.
(Q) Your multi-faceted design firm not only deals with design but handles manufacturing of unique detailed products as well. Could you elaborate your unique design philology and how it reflects the key works done by your firm?
(A) Our designs are based mainly on modern and contemporary styles in keeping with today’s trends reflecting the business of the client. As such we work with processed timber and engineered surfaces which can be transformed to bring out unique creativity.
(Q) What made you opt for designer as a career. How has your work evolved over time?
(A) I enjoyed creative work from a very young age and when I went to New Zealand had the opportunity of working with an experienced designer. Her inspiration and my interest in “Design” created a career path for me. I have enjoyed 35 years of work to the fullest, and I gain satisfaction when I saw my creativity transformed into reality.
(Q) Luxury does not mean fancy construction materials or flamboyant installation but spaciousness, diverse usability and availability of options.Your opinion?
(A) Agree to your statement. Luxury can be achieved with less expensive materials. Use of colour , lighting and texture are key elements for the final product.
(Q) What in your opinion what are some of the loopholes that the designers get trapped in while designing luxury projects?
(A) Limitation of materials available at present in the market
(Q) A project close to your heart why?
(A) All projects are close to my heart as each and everyone is given a lot of time from start to finish. Being in love with my work is always the key to achieving better results
(Q)Your most challenging design project? Share the challenges and how you overcame them?
(A) Practicality is fundamental in my design. The biggest challenge I have had is to achieve precision in the final product. Design is a way of living,enjoying lifestyle to the fullest is my forte.
(Q)What is your dream project?
(A) Convert a complex that looks rather rundown to the best making it an icon for others to admire
(Q) How do you combine beauty and function? What do you see for the future of design?
(A) Beauty can be achieved with the correct use of materials, colour and light Nevertheless day to day maintenance needs to be considered as well to let the “beauty” last!
(Q) What are you working on at the moment?
(A) A VIP Lounge and Staff Cafeteria in a Commercial Building
(Q)What is your favourite project date and why?
(A) Etisalat – A well known name in the Telecommunication Industry. Dates back to a decade. It’s considered favourite for reasons below
a. Total design and build was by WIDAC
b. The first in the country to depict the same “Concept” of the Flagship Store and other forty outlets
c. The 40 outlets that it is spread out in the country were completed in one year.
d. Gave us real satisfaction to see our work showcased in main cities and little towns through out Sri Lanka
(Q)What fuels you to do what you do every day?
(A) I need constant excitement and challenges in my work to keep me motivated. I take pleasure in working on turnkey projects which are fast-paced; also anything stereotypical and conventional brings boredom.
I am highly passionate about what I do. There were times when I was not very enthusiastic about some things, but I worked on it by discovering small ways to keep the level of excitement high. Despite the challenges, the show must go on!
(Q) What is your definition of success?
(A) Success is subjective. According to me, it means having a name, fame, recognition, and appreciation for the work done. To have made it in the industry without anyone to endorse me has been my mark of success. I also believe that being able to grow and adapt to the trends and to evolve, yet staying afloat despite hitches, is a success. Although the monetary aspect plays an important role, hard work and honesty are something to be treasured.
(Q) What advice would you give to professional women?
Working women need to be respected as they are the embodiment of the art of balancing work, home, their lives, everything.
(A) I believe that time management is essential to being an organized person, so delegating and outsourcing must be made use of wherever possible.
More importantly, love and trust yourself, also be motivated by setting aside some time for self-care and enjoyment with friends. Learn to laugh and to let go, as there are some situations that are beyond your control and you cannot please everyone. Furthermore, never ever compromise on your self-respect and dignity, because you are worth a lot more than you think.
Dreams night to tour from the US to Canada
‘Sihina Rathri’ (Dreams Night), a charity musical concert will tour United States and Canada from July 15 to August 5.the Organised by the Asian Friendly Art Foundation which is based in USA , this musical concert will also tour Sweden, Italy, UK, Canada and Sri Lanka and a series of musical concerts will be held . Popular actor Uddika Premaratne, singer Gayan Gunawardena, Adithya Weliwatte and Nuwandika Senarathe will all be featured at the Dreams Night concert in America and Canada.
The USA based Sri Lankan tele drama producer Kumari Panditharathne who initiated the Asian Friendship Art Foundation, and the president of Sri Lankan branch, well-known announcer Mahesh Nissanka, lyrics writer Ravi Siriwardena will entertain the audience with thier magical performances.
Already more than ten shows of Dream Night had been performed in different parts of Sri Lanka and the proceeds of the show will be donated for the development of hospitals, schools, temples and other religious institutions, said the co-ordinator of Sri Lankan branch Dinesh Gamage said.
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