One cannot merely understand the context of chairmanship and challenges faced by boardroom members through a textbook or an educational system.
A chairman with good governance practices is not a result of education alone. It’s groomed with day to day decision making, taking risks and developing a relentless attitude towards challenges faced every day.
Good leadership is a precursor of not just being great but leading the followers to be great in order to achieve your vision.
Pertaining to the above context, Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID) hosted the Chairmen’s Forum titled “Contemporary Boardroom Challenges” on May 11th at the Cinnamon Grand, Colombo.
The panel this year featured country’s renowned business personalities in the likes of Lalith De Mel, former Chairman of Hemas Holdings PLC, Sunil Wijesinha, Chairman of United Motors PLC, W.K.H Wegapitiya, Chairman of Laughs Gas PLC, Ajith Dias, Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines and Arittha Wickramanayake, Precedent Partner of Nithya Partners serving as the moderator.
Laith De Mel counts over 40 years board experience having served as a Director of several companies in Sri Lanka and abroad. He has served most of his career at Reckitt Benckiser PLC. UK, and was a main Board Director. He was the Global Director – Pharmaceuticals when he retired. He has served as the Chairman of the Board of Investment and the Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom Limited, and was a Senior Advisor Ministry of Finance. He holds directorships in many other companies and is a Trustee of the Cambodia Trust UK.
Sunil Wijesinha is a Chartered Engineer, a Chartered Management Accountant FCMA (UK) and has an MBA. His experience in the financial services sector includes the Board Directorships of Sampath Bank PLC as Deputy Chairman, Chairman of Employees’ Trust Fund Board and Merchant Credit of Sri Lanka, and of the NDB Bank. He was also the former Chairman and Managing Director of Dankotuwa Porcelain PLC and his vast experience comes from the Directorships held in many other Government and private sector organizations.
Having belief in doing business in an ethical manner and having honesty as his biggest values, W.K.H. Wegapitiya has subsequently incorporated Laughs Gas (Pvt) Ltd as the flagship company of the Laughs Group which today is the second largest LGP player in the country and making Laughs a household word, with a portfolio of fifteen companies, engaged in a wide spectrum of manufacturing and marketing. He is a recipient of many awards which include the Entrepreneur of the Year Award granted by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Sri Lanka, for outstanding business performances in 2001 & 2004 and also the National Gold Award in 2005.
Ajith Dias is the former chairman of the Free Trade Zone Manufactures Association (FTZMA), Director of Brandix and member of the Textile Quota Board and a member of the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC).
The panel discussion was moderated by Attorney-at-Law Arittha Wickramanayake who has held several senior positions in the public sector which includes that of Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka, a member of the Public Enterprises Reform Commission of Sri Lanka, where he lay out policy for the privatization of several vital state owned enterprises. He also served as a member of the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Board and has been a Counsel with the Attorney General’s Department of Sri Lanka. He is also actively involved in corporate governance and corporate social responsibility issues, having served on several committees appointed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The panelists primarily focused on the experiences gathered over the years in their respective entities whilst paying closer attention towards the role and responsibilities of a Chairman and the obstacles faced and lessons learned over their distinguished careers. The panel will be open to the participants during its Q&A session which will follow the discussions.
The sponsors for the event are Dimo Technologies and Iron One Technologies.