The Women Directors’ Forum (WDF) of The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors organized a panel discussion titled “Empathetic Leadership in a Time of Crisis” on 19 November 2021 at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo to discuss and share insights with its members on the virtues of and the need for empathy in leading organizations in times of crises such as the current pandemic. The keynote was delivered by Ms. Hajar Alafifi-Chairperson, Unilever Sri Lanka. Moderated by Dilshan Rodrigo-Director/COO, Hatton National Bank PLC, the panel consisted of Ms. Shiromal Cooray-Managing Director, Jetwing Travels (Pvt) Ltd, Ms. Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson-Group CEO, Hemas Holdings PLC, Ms. Lakmini Wijesundera-Co Founder, IronOne Technologies/BoardPac and Ms. Chamila Bandara-Director/CEO, Mountain Hawk Express (Pvt) Ltd as well as Ms. Alafifi.
“Empathy goes beyond compassion. Leaders were super-heroes, commanding and controlling with top-down leadership styles until maybe 10 years ago. With the advent of Covid, leaders realized that they now had to pull a different muscle to lead the team and drive business performance. They needed to make their people feel safe and cared for. This required them to exude a completely different leadership style. They had to become human leaders. Empathetic leadership is about doing hard things in a human way. It is not about becoming fluffy or being kind for the sake of being kind. It is about driving performance whilst being human” said Ms. Hajar Alafifi in her keynote address and explained that empathy builds productivity contrary to the belief that empathy is counter productive to business results and performance. She also emphasized that an empathetic leader drives business results by supporting and challenging the team at the same time.
Dilshan Rodrigo citing research conducted said that while 80% of leaders consider themselves empathetic leaders, the staff ratings of these leaders indicate that only 20% of them are actually seen to be empathetic leaders. He also said that during the difficult period due to Covid, he has seen companies operating in good industries not doing well and companies operating in difficult industries doing well due to good leadership, emphasizing that ultimately it is leadership that matters in achieving business performance.
Responding to a question from the moderator on empathetic leadership and how it manifests itself for each of the panelists, Ms. Lakmini Wijesundera said that as a growing company the expectation from the leadership is different to the well-established, well-structured companies. “In our situation, communication with the staff is very important with understanding and empathy towards the team.”
Ms. Kasthuri Chellaraja Wilson sharing her thoughts said that there is a fine line between understanding and sympathy, and that there are things that leaders can understand, acknowledge, and accommodate. Listening and having deeper conversations with the team had helped her to understand her individual team members better.
Ms. Shiromal Cooray emphasized that empathy needs to come from leaders and that it is their duty to instill an empathetic culture in the company. She said that merely having an empathetic leader may not be sufficient and that empathy must be cascaded down the company’s hierarchical lines through many interventions.
Ms. Chamila Bandara mentioned that empathy is a core value in her company and one of 10 leadership attributes. She said that when Covid came about, their leadership team was really put to the test as theirs was an essential service which put the staff at risk given that they had to make deliveries even during the pandemic. She emphasized that empathetic leadership is not only thinking of your employees and putting them first but also about making intelligent and commercially viable decisions. “During a crisis, one needs to be confident of one’s ability as a leader” she added.
Sri Lanka Insurance posts a record high GWP achievement of Rs. 43 billion during 2021
Sri Lanka Insurance, closed the year 2021 with a positive note recording a staggering combined GWP of Rs. 43 billion amidst the turbulent time.
In the year 2021 Sri Lanka Insurance reported 14 % growth in life insurance premium increases to Rs.21.9 billion whilst general insurance reported 5.4% growth in premium, for a total value of Rs. 21.2 billion amidst the stagnant market conditions. The company achieved a combined Gross Written Premium (GWP) growth rate of 9.7 % during the year. Life insurance contributed 51% towards the total GWP whilst General Insurance contributed 49%.
Marking 60 years of excellence as the protector of the nation, Sri Lanka Insurance recorded many remarkable achievements during the year 2021.
Sri Lanka Insurance yet again declared the highest Life Insurance bonus in the industry of Rs. 8.6 billion. The insurer was able to produce 189 MDRT members with 5 COT and 1 TOT member for the MDRT conference 2021 marking a historic milestone as the highest ever representation from Sri Lanka Insurance.
In the year 2021 Sri Lanka Insurance managed to uphold the leadership position of the General Insurance sector and Motor Insurance sector while introducing multiple innovative motor insurance products that cater to the unique needs of customer segments in the motor insurance market.
Further, Sri Lanka Insurance was recognized with many awards and accolades in the year 2021. The insurer tops the ranking in many aspects in the Brand Finance report on Sri Lanka’s Most Valuable Brands 2021 edition. Sri Lanka Insurance was awarded The Most Loved Insurance Brand of the year and the Most Valuable General Insurance Brand of the year proving its prowess to be awarded these prestigious titles for the 4th consecutive year. Also, SLIC Life recorded the highest brand value growth among the Life Insurance brands in Sri Lanka. SLIC was also recognized as a ‘Great Place to Work” in Sri Lanka in the year 2021, reiterating the insurer’s commitment towards developing and empowering employee relationships at the workplace.
Exploring the avenues to broaden the protection to communities SLIC served different segments, age groups and different affinity groups through product and market development initiatives. SLIC Speed Investment and SLIC Early cash and SLIC Minimuthu life insurance products were relaunched understanding and catering to a new generation of SLIC clientele. “Nagaraja” an exclusive medical insurance cover was also launched as the first product designed in Sri Lanka to provide protection for Buddhist clergy and their family members and “Motor Plus Commercial” was launched with unique features to complement the needs of the commercial vehicle users.
SLIC has been making steady progress in transforming its operational architecture and front end customer interfaces to ensure digital integration. SLIC Mobile App introduced many enhanced features to constantly evolve with the consumer needs and proved to be a significant tool during the pandemic period. The motor claim settlement process has undergone a major reengineering process to facilitate fast-track and contactless claim settlements to customers. SLIC also increased the digital integration with other service providers to expand the number of payment platforms available to customers enhancing the accessibility and switching to contactless mode to ensure health and safety guidelines. The “Work Flow Management System” is transforming all internal manual and paper-based operations to digital-driven systemized operations.
Commenting on the excellence achieved during the year SLIC Chairman Eng. Vijitha Herath noted “The past year has been a testing time which compelled us to embrace changes and respond to challenges. As a State-owned insurer and the pioneer of the insurance industry, we have been contributing to the country’s development since inception and we have aligned our corporate goals with the country’s development goals. We have pledged to safeguard the nation by delivering exceptional insurance service and today we have become an icon of excellence In the industry exploring avenues to expand protection across every corner of the island.
“We continue to bring a sense of protection to millions of Sri Lankans with our stable financial performance and service enhancement. We reiterate the trust garnered through generations as the largest and strongest insurer and we continue adding value to all our stakeholders evolving our self to conquer greater heights.”
No fee required for Selfies at Port City
Port City Colombo wishes to inform the public that there is no truth in social media posts alleging that the public needs to pay a fee for personal selfies or videos taken at Port City.
However, a payment structure was introduced for personal events, professional and/or commercial filming and photography due to the unprecedented number of such requests received from the public and private sector to use the newly opened Port City Marina Promenade. It has also been brought to our attention that such filming/photography was a hindrance, and violates the privacy of other visitors to the promenade.
Taking public safety and ongoing construction in to consideration, this payment structure and dedicated time periods were introduced for anyone wishing to engage in such professional filming or photography at Port City to avoid hindrance to the public and provide a better service for those who require it. The Marina Promenade is open to the public from 9am to 6pm daily. Paid filming and photography can be carried out before 9am or other time period as requested.
We wish to emphasize that this is not applicable for those wishing to take personal pictures, videos, and selfies inside Port City using their personal phones or cameras. Also, reputed social or mainstream media stations can freely carry out filming/ photography for news or current affairs (non commercial purposes) inside Port City with prior approval from relevant departments.
Charges will only be applicable for filming/ photography of personal ceremonies, weddings, product or fashion promotions, music videos, advertisements or other types of commercial filming. Income received from these will be used for the maintenance of public spaces, lavatories and garbage clearing done by the Estate Management Company (EMC) which manages the public areas of Port City Colombo.
Areas of Port City such as the Marina, Golf Range, Beach Park and ATV Track are managed by private operators on a paid basis since they started operations.
Eswaran Brothers – A Board poised for governance and growth
COLOMBO; Top regional financial services expert Aruni Goonetilleke has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Eswaran Brothers, further strengthening an eminent team at the helm of affairs at the company. Eswaran Brothers which has been a leader in the value added tea industry for over sixty years, is at the forefront of innovation in the industry.
The Board of Directors of Eswaran Brothers lead by Non-Executive Chairman and well known corporate strategy expert, Dr. Nalin Jayasuriya, boasts of a power packed team that includes Yudhistran Kanagasabai, Independent Non-Executive Director, Chairman of the Audit Committee of Ceylon Tobacco Company PLC and Chairman, Ambeon Capital PLC , Gabriel D’Arcy, Independent Non-Executive Director, Senior VP at Stratagem Partners – a leading European Corporate Strategy and Brexit Advisory Service Provider and Mr. Hanif Janoo a well-known global Tea industry stalwart from Pakistan and Kenya.
To this stellar team a recent addition was top regional financial services expert Aruni Goonetilleke who joined the board back in June 2021. Aruni Goonetilleke, subsequently appointed as Chairperson of Hatton National Bank PLC, is also a Director at Sunshine Holdings PLC. Further, she holds the position of Non-Executive Director at several other listed companies.
Speaking on her appointment, Ms. Goonetilleke said, “I’m happy to be part of the Board of Eswaran Brothers – one of the leading value-added tea exporting companies in Sri Lanka. At a time when the world navigates many challenges, Eswaran Brothers is embarking on an impressive programme of diversification and growth. I look forward to being a part of the leadership of the company as it steps forward in new directions.”
Ms. Goonetilleke who did her Bachelors in Law at the University of Colombo, completed her Masters in Law at Harvard Law School, USA. She was previously the Head of Corporate Banking at People’s Bank. In her 25-years as a financial services professional she has worked in banks in Sri Lanka and Singapore. She was the Chief Risk Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Sri Lanka and played a key role at the time of the merger of ANZ Grindlays and Standard Chartered Bank in Sri Lanka. She was also the Head of Credit, SME and Commercial Banking and held Global Audit Roles in Wholesale and Retail Banking at Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore.
As one of the premier marketers of Ceylon Tea, Eswaran Brothers works with some of the world’s leading tea brands, helping them meet their customer needs with the supply of high-quality Ceylon Tea. With over six decades of experience, this combination of versatility and customer satisfaction has made Eswaran Brothers Tea the choice source for fine teas and wellness beverages.
“Corporate governance and growth oriented independent directors have been part of the Eswaran Brothers board for nearly a decade. Following the directions set by our Past Chairman, the late Mr. D Eassuwaren, Eswaran Brothers became the first Carbon Neutral Certified tea company in the world and we are now ready to make some big moves as a corporate entity,” said Executive Chairman, Ganesh Deivanayagam. “With Aruni joining the Board, we intend to strengthen our financial oversight to further drive the company’s diversification and consolidation.”
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