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Sysco LABS’ Managing Director, Shanil Fernando Emphasizes HR’s Role in Retaining Local Talent

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Shanil Fernando, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Sysco LABS Sri Lanka, recently spoke at the ‘Employing Tomorrow’s HR Today: The CEO’s Perspective’ panel discussion organized by the Association of HR Professionals Sri Lanka (AHRP).Representing the ICT industry, Shanil shared his insights on retaining and developing talent, unique people initiatives at Sysco LABS, and how emerging technologies like AI are transforming HR processes.

An industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience in technology and innovation, Shanil highlighted the importance of HR’s role in transforming the workplace into a sanctuary that gives employees peace of mind to do their best work. Speaking about people challenges, he focused on the local tech industry’s current issue of attrition and emphasized the necessity for crafting a sound employee engagement and retention strategy that addresses both financial and mental well-being.

Alluding to the present economic crisis, he said: “The country’s key industries, including technology, are experiencing significant attrition at the moment. Collectively, retaining talent has become a major challenge. The primary reason for this migration is the socioeconomic impact of the current economic crisis. In order to mitigate this, the economic situation must be addressed urgently. High public taxes will also compound the problem. The government must take the necessary steps to reduce the burden put on the private sector by introducing significant reforms to non–performing State-Owned Enterprises, avoiding public funds being used to keep loss-making SOEs afloat. Privatization or listing such enterprises on the stock exchange will allow them to be scrutinized in the same manner as a well-run private company, ensuring true transparency and accountability. As organizations, what we can do is build mechanisms that insulate employees, as much as possible, from the impact of the current economic crisis. For example, if the company is at an advantage as a FOREX generator, they can share this advantage equitably with their employees.”

Shanil emphasized the importance of transforming modern-day HR professionals into strategic business partners who are creative, innovative and able to proactively deliver solutions. Elaborating on vital steps taken at Sysco LABS, to transform its people operations to be more strategic in identifying talent needs, he said: “We are a strong, culture-oriented company. The pandemic dampened our culture efforts in the last 2 years, but we’re now focused on rejuvenating this culture and HR must be a flexible change agent that works together with other business functions to enhance the workplace experience for everyone. At Sysco LABS, every associate is allocated an HR Business Partner who will support them throughout their entire journey at the company and ensure all their needs are met. This enables us to deliver a more wholesome work experience to our associates.”

Shanil also spoke about how emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) can transform the HR function, noting that AI creates opportunities for greater efficiency and more intelligent decision-making. He suggested that HR leaders must adopt AI as it gives businesses a critical edge when gauging future talent needs and understanding how to better create a compelling people experience.

Summing up the impact of initiatives implemented at Sysco LABS, Shanil said, “Sysco LABS is impacting a Fortune 100 company and a trillion-dollar, global industry from here in Sri Lanka. Our people are our most precious resource, and we strive to make the workplace a sanctuary for all of them. We want our associates to feel supported and cared for, with our initiatives driving engagement and camaraderie reflecting that. It’s these initiatives that have enabled us to maintain a purpose-driven, world-class workspace exposing our associates to global experiences and opportunities.”



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Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan owned company to receive FAMI-QS certification

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Farmchemie has obtained FAMI-QS certification being the first Sri Lankan owned company certified with FAMI-QS. FAMI-QS stands for Feed Additive and pre-MIxture Quality System, which compromises the safety of animal feed and the quality of processed goods in accordance with European regulation no. 183/2005 on animal feed. Farmchemie is a BOI approved leading manufacturer and exporter of animal feed additives and nutritional supplements in Asia. Farmchemie is equipped with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility from Bühler, Switzerland to offer quality assured manufacturing services for world-renowned European brands as well as own brands under Farmstar. Farmchemie has already established their presence in numerous international markets such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kuwait, Lebanon, UAE, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia, Cambodia and Uganda. FAMI-QS will enable them to expand their markets including the European and USA.

“We are honoured to announce that Farmchemie becomes the first Sri Lankan-owned company to be certified with FAMI-QS in combination with ISO 9001: 2015 and Good Manufacturing Practices certification for animal feeding. By attaining FAMI-QS, we are able to anticipate the expectations of our clients for safe, high-quality goods by lowering the related risk and enhancing the quality of onsite feeds via a supply chain that is properly guaranteed. For that Farmchemie implements measures for Feed Fraud and Feed Defense according to FAMI-QS supply chain integrity module V2. We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to our customers and suppliers for their continued support and dedication. We look forward to elevating the firm to new heights in the coming months and years, as our aims will always be centered on quality assurance and innovative manufacturing.” Managing Director Uditha Wanigasinghe stated.

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Exports Gold Award for Textrip

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Textrip Pvt Ltd, the export arm of the Elasto Group, was recently recognized, as the gold award winner for rubber and rubber-based products, medium scale category at the NCE Export Awards ceremony held recently in Colombo. The Chairman and Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera accepted the award at the gala event held at Shangri La Hotel. The national export awards ceremony, organized by the National Chamber of Exporters (NCE), recognizes and rewards Sri Lankan exporters on their performance in the international market.

“We always strive to manufacture high-quality rubber-based goods, using the latest technology, adhering to the highest international standards, and showcasing Sri Lanka on the global stage. I would like to thank our clients, locally and internationally for their continuous trust and my staff for their hard work and dedication. They are the pillars of our success,” Managing Director of Elasto Group, Mangala Gunasekera stated. Textrip products have obtained a number of national and international quality standards such as ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, CET, REACH and their products are designed to adhere to the ‘Wellness Wisdom’ theme. The company works with over 100 top sports and wellness brands and exports to more than 30 countries including European countries and the United States. TEXSTRETCH Progressive Exercise Resistance Bands is one of the most popular products of the company. The product is a great full-body workout solution for users of any level.

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Sri Lanka Tourism returns to Spanish market after pandemic

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Spain is one of the fastest recovery markets for Sri Lanka Tourism after the pandemic and participation in FITUR argues well for the much-needed exposure for Sri Lanka as an attractive tourism destination for Spanish-speaking countries, contributing in a substantive manner to its overall growth strategy. Sri Lanka Tourism made the presence with the 28 private sector companies at 43rd edition of FITUR International Travel Mart which was held from 18- 22 January 2023, Madrid, Spain. FITUR is the largest tourism event in the Spanish Market where all the sectors leisure, business and MICE tourism meet under one roof.

Sri Lanka Tourism stall was ceremonially opened by Mr.Chalaka Gajabahu ,Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and Honorary Consul of Sri Lanka in Barcelona, Mr. Agustin Llana and representatives of the leading private sector members of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka was able to attract high level of attention from the trade and travel visitors attended at the event. The Sri Lanka pavilion highlighted many aspects of its potential culture, beauty, Ayurveda and many more which Sri Lanka would offer as a tourism destination. Sri Lanka stand optimized the “So Sri Lanka” and “Visit Sri Lanka” vivid sights to attract the potential visitor segments. At the Sri Lanka pavilion, Ceylon tea was served for the visitors with a view of promoting Ceylon tea in the Spanish market.

On the sideline of the FITUR travel fair, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Burau officials participated at the events organized by the UNWTO. During the events, SLTPB officials met with the Mr.Harry Hwang , Director of Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO.As a result of discussions, Mr.Harry Hwang has shown the interest to hold the UNWTO Joint commission in Sri Lanka in 2024.

Meantime, the SLTPB and Sri Lanka Embassy of France also took steps to arrange Business Meetings, exclusive media interviews, Air Line meetings at the FITUR 2023. The Media gathering conducted during the fair created the great opportunity to highlight the updates on the destination and create awareness on the destination.

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