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Remembering a visionary businessman

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The 100th birth anniversary of legendary visionary Albert A. Page falls today

 Albert A. Page

Amidst the throes of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, the story of a visionary leader such as Albert A. Page provides a soothing balm to our souls

 

When a colossus leaves this world, he illuminates the path for generations to come. In our mind this is perhaps the greatest tribute anyone could pay the visionary Albert A. Page on his 100th birth anniversary, being celebrated today (April 4, 2021). 
Many of us wonder where the soul of the departed takes flight, but in the case of Albert A. Page, the late patriarch of Cargills and CT Holdings – his soul lives on within each and every employee and each and every accomplishment of the Group today. 


As a young student schooling at Manipay Hindu College in Jaffna, the young Albert was shy, methodical and studious. With his grandfather a principal of the local school, Albert had the value of education instilled in him. 
Even though his world was centred in Jaffna, the young man yearned to pursue higher education, eventually making his way to the commercial capital of Colombo, where he continued high school at the prestigious Ananda College. 


His thirst for knowledge saw him further qualify as a Chartered Accountant (Sri Lanka) and as a Chartered Secretary (London), joining as Partner at Page & Hulugalla (later, Hulugalle Wickramanayake & Company). The next memorable milestone in his life was his marriage in 1950 to Lucy Aloysius, with whom he went on to have eight children, relishing his role as the patriarch of a loving and joyful family.
Perhaps steered by destiny, he joined Ceylon Theatres as a Junior Clerk in the accounts section in 1942. After this, there was no looking back, as he rose fast and was eventually appointed Managing Director of Ceylon Theatres in 1980 and Chairman in 1985.


Throughout his life, Albert Page was led by the yearning to give back to society. During his time at Ceylon

Cargills Square Jaffna

Theatres, he was actively involved with promoting local and international films. Some of the local productions Ceylon Theatres backed, such as Golu Hadawatha, Akkara Paha and Nidhanaya, directed by the great film-maker Lester James Pieris went on to win many awards. Albert Page took pride in being the pioneer in promoting Sinhala films. 


The cinema industry was nationalised in the late 70s and looking for the next challenge Albert Page mulled increasing a bigger share in Ceylon Theatres. In 1978 his vision for diversification was clear. After giving the nation the joy of cinema, he wanted to provide entertainment hubs for families to visit and therefore Majestic Cinema rose in Bambalapitiya. 


Today his legacy is being carried on with similar malls coming up in Jaffna, Dematogoda and Gamapaha, with more planned in Bandarawela, Kandy and Negombo. 
Albert Page achieved much in his lifetime but never lost sight of his passion to contribute to the development of the community and to give back to society. His development-oriented mindset left a deep imprint on the Cargills Group and his intuitive leadership to ensure sustainability demonstrates his visionary thinking because sustainability is vital in every business today – something he foresaw decades before. 
At home, he was a strict but loving father and groomed the next generation subtly to take over the business. Most people who knew him well would aver that he never showed his emotions and remained calm and self-assured in any circumstance he found himself in. 


Whether the success of Cargills today as a leading group was written in the stars or not, its trajectory was envisioned by Albert Page whose diary was found years after his passing in 2000, which showed he had wanted to set up a development bank, by which time Cargills Bank has already been established unbeknownst. 
His diary also held instructions not to take the profits out of the country but to reinvest in the nation so that the country would benefit. Albert Page’s strong foundation has paved the way for the success story that is Cargills today. 

"Whether the success of Cargills today as a leading group was written in the stars or not, its trajectory was envisioned by Albert Page whose diary was found years after his passing in 2000, which showed he had wanted to set up a development bank, by which time Cargills Bank has already been established unbeknownst.

His generosity knew no bounds. In the early 80s the government was looking to set up a theatre for local plays and the Ceylon Theatres’ cinema, Tower Hall (a Theatre which had been converted to a cinema), was handed over to the Government at the time of the late Prime Minister Premadasa to develop local Sinhala theatre.  
Nelson Mandela once said - Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, and Albert Page - who only too well knew the power of education - has the Albert A. Page Institute of Food Business (AAPI) set up in his memory, a non-profit independent entity which is empowering underprivileged youth in rural areas.


Amidst the throes of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, the story of a visionary leader such as Albert A. Page provides a soothing balm to our souls and give us hope and inspiration with the legacy he has left behind. 
Long after the 100th-anniversary remembrances of his extraordinary life fades, his powerful presence will continue to nurture and inspire many generations. 

 

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