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Challenges, the turning points and the future of hospitality

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Shiromal Cooray talks about

by Zanita Careem

A multitude of several roles, Shiromal Cooray, sister of well known hotelier Hiran Cooray managing director of Jetwing Group of Companies stands out amongst all others when it comes to her story of success and entrepreneurship. She is the Managing Director of Jetwing Travels and Chairman of Jetwing Hotels. However, her role in life is not confined to this. She manages multiple roles with the same ease and grace. A voice for women’s equality, an active industry supporter, a woman entrepreneur, and of course a travel personality , mother and what not!

Q: What are your career milestones?

A: I started as an audit clerk at Ernst and young( then Turquand Young) in Colombo. Then went on to the UK and worked as a Trainee Management Accountant.

My first appointment In Sri Lanka was as the Finance Manager at J Walter Thompson, a popular advertising company. I was privileged to be working under two excellent individuals who moulded my professional career. Working with group of brilliant and talented people it set a benchmark in my career to move forward. I realized the importance of creativity then. I ended up being the Director of Finance and administration.

Later I joined Jetwing travels, in its infancy. By then, my brother was already working with our Dad in the Hotels. I saw the growth, the progress of the company, and the team spirit of the associates and their passion, and was very proud of it.

I also witnessed the beginning and expansion of an investment Bank CAL, the resurgence of a commodity broker, Ceylon Tea Brokers and the birth of a logistics company Logicare, with my partner Ajith. These were great experiences in my life.

To join the Board at the Commercial Bank as an independent non executive and later the Allianz Insurance, Sri Lanka, gave me the much needed experience and exposure to other industries creating a diversity in my career.

Q:

Does the problem of gender bias still exists’ How do you account for this

A: Yes gender bias still exists sometimes consciously but also at times unconsciously. I have seen that most companies in Sri Lanka have sugar coated pills showing the gender equality in beautifully crafted documents, incorporating in their annual reports,adding and giving awards to those female members etc. They also portray a friendly demeanour and make high sounding slogans supporting the women workforce but sadly in practise most don’t walk the talk. This gender stereotype is prevalent in most places still and gender biases are rooted deeply and it is hard to overcome in Sri Lanka and the world. But much progress has happened and the future looks bright for females .

I have been often Been asked by callers in office Are you the secretary and can you connect me to Shiromal Cooray on line. Why/ I used to wonder that people found it surprising to accept the fact that the head or the Managing Director of a company can be a woman. This is a common trait not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world . They think women are weak, cant work for long hours and don’t have the ability. In the past trail blazing women have proved this wrong. Now both in Sri Lanka and overseas women are showing their ability to multi task and take on the roles of care giver and business leader.

Q:

What motivates an entrepreneur like you to climb the ladder of success/

> A: I don’t consider myself as an entrepreneur at all. My father was an entrepreneur .My brother and I consider ourselves as custodians of our business which we are so proud of. Our father created this group giving employment to many. My brother and myself together with Ruan Samarasinghe and a wonderful team have worked to ensure the business will expand and grow.

However what motivates me is seeing our teams working passionately towards our common goals. Our founder’s dream was to create a ‘service culture’ that is ‘legendary’ one that people will talk about and be proud of The teams both at the hotel and the travel sector are continuing to focus and achieve this goal, this motivates me to keep striving harder.

Q:

Are you proud of what you have achieved so far

A:

Yes I am so humbled and proud by what the team and I have achieved so far, we have created an opportunity to showcase our beautiful Sri Lanka to both locals and tourists alike. We are a hospitable nation noted for our smiles and we strive to ensure the brand Jetwing remains as the best hospitality provider in our country.

Q:

What are your challenges and how did you overcome?

A:

I faced many obstacles In my career. I was a whistle blower and even lost my job in the process. That really exposed me to another world and showed how naive I was. But this was also the turning point in my career.

Most often, I have been the only woman at a discussion and getting my opinion heard was difficult at the beginning. Things are certainly changing now as women’s points of view are seriously considered.

Q:

The challenges of being a working mum

A:

It was difficult but I took it up with a positive note. This is going to be themost challenging area for a woman to navigate. The emotions of being a mum and the responsibilities at work are always going to play. She needs to learn to compromise and realize you cannot have it all, or be perfect in everything. Once you realize that navigating the multiple roles become much easier. Sometimes . I have had to juggle between work and office. My mother, in laws and great domestic help made my life that much easier. I am so grateful to them for letting me enjoy motherhood and a career.

Q:

Your strength and weaknesses

A:

My faith and family. I have complete trust in God, My parents my brother,my partner and my son were beside me whenever I wanted them.

I try to look at a problem from different perspectives and try to find solutions.

Q:

The weaknesses

A:

I always believe in the truth and I don’t want to conceal what I really feel. Often people don’t like direct talk. I am very bad at sugar coating things and this puts me in trouble very often. I am often told that the problem with me is not what I say but how I say it, though I keep trying to change haven’t been successful.

Q:

Can you reflect on your success

A:

I worked with a personality with high principles,this was my father who had a deep understanding of people. He always wanted the company to grow with the people. He viewed me as a capable woman For him men and womenwere equal and there was absolutely no glass ceilings . Both my brother and I were given the same opportunities for education and personal development.

Q:

Born and bred into a business family what are your privileges.

A:

Our parents worked selflessly towards the progress of the company and their children. We received a very sound education. We saw how focused one has to be to achieve your goals. The importance of family and working together.

Our associates at Jetwing helped one another, to stand in unison to build the company, Some of the staff members rose to high positions and got the opportunity to climb the ladder of success that was a great achievement and a wonderful experience.

Q:

Did you join the family business by choice

A:

Yes, definitely by choice. Nobody could force me and I had the freedom to chose my own path. I am happy with what I am.

Q:

Your passion

A:

Reading, love to read biographies, travelling and exploring new exotic places. I must mention during my travel I visited Mongolia. I was mesmerised by the beauty of the country and simplicity of the nomadic people.

Q:

Your mantra

A:

Love to help people whenever possible.

Q:

Your source of inspiration that helped you to build your career

A:

My father inspired me to build my career. My father’s choice was to make me to be a doctor, but Circumstances made me what I am today. However I am happy with my self and studying accountancy was my choice Too.

Q:

Who are your mentors

A:

My parents. My mother still instills good values and advises me. My parents have taught me to be humble, to appreciate simple things in life faith, work hard and to help each other.



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Features

The Boss Up Story

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Boss Up isn’t merely a brand name. It’s a manifestation of resilience and inner power in the form of a branding and social media marketing agency. Hafsa Killru, the Founder of Boss Up has a personal story and determination to ‘boss up’ that propelled her to launch her own venture to empower entrepreneurship, especially among small businesses.

Beginnings

The environment one grows up in has a remarkable effect on a young child’s mind. Watching two strong women in the family redefine the role of feminine power, a young Hafsa grew up ambitious too. Although brimming with the desire to create a change, her childhood was fraught with challenges that plague many children today – bullying. She was subject to severe bullying since the tender age of 10 at her places of education, which affected both her mental and physical health.

“I never fit in anywhere. I was never welcome among the cliques. But I didn’t let it affect my confidence. Keeping my circle small helped me stay focused on my studies. I’d spend this time alone in school libraries, often reading encyclopedias,” says Hafsa. “The bullying worsened in my teenage years. I was lonely but it worked out in my favour because I was never, and still not, someone who worries about ‘what will others say’ — a key obstacle in many people’s lives. Not having many friends meant I was not under peer pressure. This allowed me to be my authentic self.”

Hafsa’s writing career began quite unexpectedly when she was 17. Not only is she a content writer but also a poet who writes evocatively about mental health, healing and empowerment. But this didn’t come by easily either.

During her higher studies, those she considered to be her friends tried to crush her growth mindset, which eventually took a toll on her. It was only when she managed to remove herself from such environments did she become more self-aware and regain her confidence, thanks to the solitude it brought into her life.Yet again, a new set of obstacles awaited her in her early 20s. In 2019, she was turned down by over 20 companies within three months alone, which led to deep frustration and self-doubt. Although she had freelancing opportunities, the lockdown only added to her troubles.

But that’s when something clicked into place – an idea so obvious, so big and so right for her that Hafsa knew it was what all these adversities were pushing her towards. She realised the lockdown was putting undue pressure on businesses and it needed a solution. Especially small businesses were struggling to go online and create a sustainable brand, and that too at an affordable rate. How could they compete with incumbent brands with massive budgets and breakthrough technologies? She sought to give them the edge they needed and thus, Boss Up was born in October 2020.

“Inviting change, taking charge of the situation and choosing to do something on my own has to be, although scary, the most liberating decision I have ever made,” admits Hafsa. “The lockdown wasn’t the time for businesses to go silent. They needed business and marketing solutions that would help them overcome the situation.”

In today’s contemporary business world, a business of any size will only be running a losing race if it hasn’t developed a strong social media presence or a clear brand strategy. Hence, Boss Up ensures equal opportunities are given to entrepreneurs from all walks of life.

One and a half years into the business, Boss up is now global with its wings spread across countries like the UK, Canada, Dubai, Qatar, the Maldives and Australia, and is backed by a strong team of young and passionate minds.

The Purpose

Boss Up’s primary goal is to uplift entrepreneurs. The brand is also a strong advocate for inner power, confidence and resilience — the three main driving forces of ambition. It intends to help people who hail from struggling backgrounds; the ones who are inundated with a lack of support, seek self-sufficiency and are hungry to design a unique identity for themselves.The brand also strives to treat everyone at work with compassion and empathy whilst leading with kindness as it is crucial to reform work cultures that are hazardous to oneself.

Reach out to HAfsa via Instagram @hafsa_killru @bossup_srilanka or email bossup_srilanka@gmail.com.

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Features

The Switch of Trend in Fashion After the Pandemic 2022

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There has been an immense change in the Industry of Fashion after the pandemic struck us all hard. Currently, the trends of fashion have also taken a big turn towards affordable fashion trending styles and outfits. The Fashion boom has grown to become steadily slow for the seasonal styles and basic needs of clothing as well.

The current scenario of fashion life is always at a peak, and even after the Covid-19 pandemic, we have still seen slow growth in the need for fashion. There are of course certain aspects that have affected the industry and declined surplus. However, fashion and clothing have become a BASIC need for humans across the globe.

From shopping high-end couture to higher brand apparel, the trend has shifted to move on to sustainable clothing and organic clothing pieces. For example, we have become more aware of locally produced clothing brands and organic fabrics of our country. Made in India clothing and brands are emerging at a higher graph.Let’s take a look at the Current Change in Fashion Trends due to Pandemic 2022

Sustainable Outfits After the Pandemic

This is something most have been finding a basic need in clothing. Spending over and over again on the same kinds of clothing has and will reduce in the future. Buying clothing and fashion pieces that last for longer is the key to saving more than before. Buying pieces like basic Tees, Pants which may be styled over and over again is what the trend is shifting towards.

Budget Range of Fashion Brands are Accepted higher

Since the ban of Rowme and Shein-like brands and online websites in India, other national brands have started to make affordable fashion pieces for their customers. Styles and trends of fashion in the budget are what the people will be looking out for since the economic growth of people has dropped. Investing in fashion will never end until there will be a supply, the only difference is the budget range brands have a huge change of acceptance now since the pandemic.

Change of Styles worn to Work or Office Fashion after the Pandemic

Since the depression, people may have just stopped feeling happier may want to take the effort to dress like before. Styles of fashion in a simple and classy fashion will emerge largely than before. Choosing Plains or Solids overprints and pattern or neutrals over new trending colors and the print patterns is being seen for workwear fashion.

Change of Trends and Styles for Indian Festival Wear after the Pandemic

In the same way as the above point mentions, dressing special occasions will take a shift. Looking at the financial conditions currently, customers will be buying lesser for Festive wear than before. Styling the same pieces with a change of new additions of budget festive wear will be trending. Sarees and salwar suits in silks, choosing cotton, and linen kurta sets over the designer trends are to be seen this year during Indian festivals.

Choosing Budget Wedding Wear Over Designer Wedding Wear

When it comes to weddings, the cost goes to the highest for any customer. But the pandemic has changed how weddings will be taking place. The cost of weddings has declined drastically and shopping for Indian weddings has grown to choose mid-range wedding wear over high-end designer wear. Saving more during weddings, styles of lehengas, sarees, shalwar suits, or sherwanis for weddings that are in mid-range is a new trend.

From styling men’s kurta suits styles for the basic function of weddings to choosing classic or budget range sarees and suits for the bride’s ceremonies will take up a new fashion trend look. Making a choice of ONE heavy wear Lehenga and Sherwani may be what the soon-to-wed couples be looking for.Designer wear which can be restyled or reused and worn for other occasions and weddings is also a trend to grow rapidly. Saving much more for the bridal and groom’s outfit looks.

Shopping Online Increased for clothing after the Pandemic

The safer way to buy clothing has become a focus for all customers going towards online shopping. The percentage of online buyers has rapidly increased for clothes after the pandemic. From casual wear shopping online to fashion shopping for festivals and weddings, all have become much easier and more convenient for consumers.

Websites and businesses are working to grow even wider with Online Shopping. Connecting with customers personally for their shopping experiences to taking a new addition in budget clothing varieties for the customers is what’s taking place.

Online shopping has become a trend We have set an all-new trend for our customers It brings more trust and safety to customers. Shopping for wedding wear online only gets comfortable for all when sitting back home and shopping Fashion Shopping after the Pandemic via on-line shooping is what keeps all customers happier.

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Captivating streetwear for today’s fashionable girls

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The latest street fashion brand Girls by Dillys under the umbrella of Dilly’s was launched recently introducing trending new pieces to help girls carry the distinct personality and style to be the fashionable girl of today.

Girl by Dilly’s is a creative street fashion brand that focuses on vibrant colors, textures, and prints to bring out the youthful exuberance of today’s girls. The brand has emphasized on contrasting color combinations. The ethos of this brand is creativity and having fun. Girl by Dilly’s is dedicated to the free-spirited girls who have their own super powers and a bold attitude. Girls are encouraged to mix and create unique styles to introduce their own identity in a creative and playful way.

This brand is the new lifestyle for confident girls who love to enjoy freedom, youth and individuality. The brand has different style combinations from casual to evening wear to make the overall look fashionable and completely their own. The brand tagline ‘All about a Girl’ is a reminder to every girl that she is unique and beautiful.

To ensure glam and comfort, all Girl by Dilly’s products are crafted using quality fabrics and technical know-how. The brand offers a wide range of stylish ready-to-wear pieces, from tops, skirts, pants, shorts, dresses, rompers, jump suits, crop tops, and t-shirts. The brand has introduced batik into the collection with a fabulous finishing touch to elevate its signature styles. The brand is also introducing a comfortable t-shirt collection with inspirational slogans and line art to share a positive message with society.

Dilani Wijeyesekera – Director of Girl by Dilly’s stated, “We became aware of a notable gap in today’s market for fashionable streetwear clothing for girls. Today’s new generation of girls have a different youthful energy about them. They are fun, bold, carefree and energetic and they want the whole world to see that. Girl by Dilly’s is perfect for such girls as it helps them find their own identity through our collection of vibrant colours and creative styles that they can mix and match to come up with eye-catching outfits. Every piece of Girl by Dilly’s has the look and feel of fun and vibrancy.”

With the launch, Girl by Dilly’s is providing an introductory offer to all loyalty customers where they can avail themselves to a 15% discount on all products until 7th August 2022, both on online and at the flagship store. A selection of special giveaways has also been lined up in the coming weeks for all social media followers.

For the latest Girl by Dilly’s updates and new releases, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok using @dillyandcarlo. The latest Girl by Dilly’s collections are available at the Flagship Store on the website www.dillyandcarlo.com.

Dilly’s was established in 1987 to cater to Colombo’s desire for high-end designer wear with a local twist. As the company grew, Dilly’s introduced its second brand to the market, this time to cater to menswear. Carlo was established in 2007 and exemplified stylish men’s clothing for all ages. The brand is housing its distinct designer ranges to cater to the entire wardrobe requirement of modern men and women.

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