Changing Perception of Women in the Workplace0 357
By: Cameron Blake
Source: The Changing Role of Women in Business
A worldwide change in gender perception puts more and more expectations on women; hence inter alia the role of women in business undergoes continuous progress. It is currently a popular issue touched on by society and aims to change the perspective of professionally successful women. This topic is extremely interesting considering the fact that more and more women have been promoted to executive roles in the business sector.
The status of women, especially in European countries, in the United States, and in some countries in Asia has improved considerably in the last 50 years. Women nowadays possess unlimited access to education and training that continuously develops, providing many women with the necessary qualifications to aspire to jobs in senior management. No longer are women associated with low expectations and qualifications, in terms of both education and the workforce positions.
There is no doubt that significant progress has been achieved in strengthening gender equality in the labor market over recent decades. Women have been moving steadily into occupations, professions and managerial jobs previously reserved only for men.
What is more, women now seek and obtain the highest leadership roles in education, government and business.
Women’s advancement in management career is influenced by personality factors and, organizational factors. These are also various societal and institutional factors that contribute to encourage employees to hire women instead of men. It is important to keep in mind that there are important institutional differences between countries, notably regarding their educational and academic systems.
We at BizNomics Magazine naturally chose this distinguished brand known as the Ministry of Crab to grace the cover story of our first issue and I am deeply honoured to be the one telling it:
When two cricketers and a chef came together to bring a culinary homecoming of Sri Lanka’s legendary lagoon crab to the local populace, they didn’t quite expect such magic to happen. Dharshan Munidasa, with his Sri Lankan-Japanese heritage and eternal drive to serve his guests with dishes made from the freshest and finest ingredients, began a journey that would have patrons clamouring to taste his iconic menu, overseas destinations welcoming MoC on their shores, and the brand even being one of his two restaurants to consistently make the prestigious list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.
When the Ministry of Crab was born, the year was 2011 and it was a time that development was moving at a very accelerated pace in Sri Lanka. The rejuvenation of the 400 year old Dutch Hospital also played a very favourable role in the plan, the site being symbolic of Sri Lanka’s progress at the time, so the pieces knitted together perfectly to form an ideal location that guests could enjoy. Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene came on board to co-own and become ‘Ministers’ in this celebrated venture and the phone began to ring off the hook for reservations as word of the mouth-watering dishes spread around Colombo.
Dharshan, a self-taught culinary expert who prides himself on the fact that he never studied culinary arts, is no stranger to the culinary field. His restaurants, Nihonbashi, Kaema Sutra, and The Tuna & The Crab are already sought after eateries by many. For a chef who works so much with crabs, his personality is anything but crabby and he does a fantastic job of expertly balancing his schedule between all three restaurants. In his well-modulated and mellifluous voice, he credits his staff at all his restaurants who work tirelessly to bring about the success of all the restaurant brands. He is one of the rare few who truly gives credit where its due, thanking his staff by name at the grand celebration held last year to mark the Ministry of Crab and Nihonbashi being ranked in the Asia’ 50 Best Restaurants.
Kumar Sangakkara, a veteran cricketer and former Sri Lankan national captain and Mahela Jayawardene, a batting wizard and former Sri Lankan national captain, need absolutely no introduction to our readers. The two of them remain just as focused in their work ethics as they did in their cricketing careers which elevated them to the heights of fame. They have always concentrated on working with like-minded people with similar ambitions and goals, and it was no surprise that they were more than happy to be a part of the ‘Ministry’, which is an excellent blend of partnership and friendship.
Behind Dharshan’s pleasant and quiet demeanour, there lies a steely determination which has brought him thus far and made him the iconic figure he is today. This, when united with the perseverance and drive of Kumar and Mahela, made no better combination to embark on a journey that would take them to heights few can achieve. The Ministry of Crab is a celebration of Sri Lanka’s finest seafood, from the succulent King Prawns found in the rivers running across the island to fresh Clams and Oysters from the lagoons. The restaurant has been an been an essential part of Dharshan’s journey and this venture alone has gone further and is so unique that many dining cultures worldwide find it interesting and financially viable to invest in.
Dharshan is one of the rare souls who value the rich supply of natural resources that Sri Lanka possesses. Coming from a country like Japan that uses every available inch of space, he was fascinated with the large garden at his home and visiting the parks in Colombo, those of which were rare back in Tokyo. Outdoors, animals, fishing and other activities suddenly became more accessible and a part of him. The strong, individualistic Scorpio grew up respecting two food cultures and believing that fusion cuisine was not the best representation of what food really is. Never expecting to come this far in his chosen field, Dharshan’s journey began as a university student when he started cooking for himself as he didn’t like the cafeteria food served on campus.
After the success of Nihonbashi, it became quite clear that Dharshan had given tuna an exciting place on the plates of Colombo’s diners and it was not long before he decided that crab should follow. Mahela and Kumar, fondly known as ‘Sanga’ to all, told us that the idea for the restaurant was initially spoken about over a glass of wine at a meal and the journey since then has been incredible. Not without its challenges, as can be expected of anything new, the three ‘Ministers’ lived up to their characters, all three of them having learned much and come a long way in their individual journeys, and overcame all odds to create a must-visit restaurant in Sri Lanka and reap the sweet harvest of success.
“I believe in good ingredients making good food. The best representation of food is respect for ingredients, respect for handling them and putting the least amount of work into them to produce an amazing dish. We make food not as a meal, but as joy, as a passion. The secret of making delicious cuisine is simple: amazing ingredients, nothing else. Finding the best ingredients are not always easy, but the meal that they make is always worth it. Stating our individuality and delivering the best product can be challenging, but the end result is what puts Sri Lanka on the map as a culinary destination and keeps the world knocking at our doors,” revealed Dharshan.
Kumar noted that the journey of MoC has been a very exciting one “Sri Lanka is a beautiful island nation, which is reflected in the seafood available to us. Our oceans, unlike those in many Southeast Asian countries, are clean and this is why our seafood is simply amazing. For all of us, it’s been a very interesting journey and for me, this is the realisation of my dream to be part of a culinary experience and I couldn’t have chosen two more excellent partners to travel this road with,” he said.
“Sanga and I love our food and have always been regulars at Dharshan’s restaurants, so when this concept came about, it seemed like an interesting venture and a no-brainer for us to come on board. We are truly proud of MoC’s success and growth. You need to enjoy what you do and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We are in the process of expansion and we are excited to see where it will take us. It’s a journey that we’re relishing and the finish line is nowhere in sight,” said Mahela.
It has been a busy year for Dharshan with popup restaurants and meetings in various countries and brain storming with his staff and teams. There are seven restaurants to open in the next few months so there are even busier times ahead. Despite all that, he has found time to tuck a new venture under his belt, which has helped him realise how much he enjoys planning and designing.
The ‘Next Innings’ for these three gentlemen are not far behind. We look forward to the opening of this venture and will bring you details as events unfold.
Ever watch the movie, Rocky? I mean, any of those would suffice. But mainly, the original. In fact, if you know anything about Stallone’s life itself, you’ll know that he’s probably one of the biggest success stories in history. Now, there are plenty of famous people who failed but never gave up on their dreams. You can find them all throughout history. There sagas are powerful enough to make you second guess ever giving up in life.
Does the common idea of geniuses having an eccentric ideas and behaviors bear any truth? Here is a story of eccentric entrepreneur for you to decide.
People waste searching endlessly for magic, whereas to Lawrence Perera life itself is a magic. “I didn’t grow up around incredible cars or at a time where there was luxury. Few of my earliest and fondest memories involve automobiles. My story begins as kid who broke every toy car received just so that I could see how it was made. My mother noticed my passion for cars and decided that I should get into automobile engineering field and made me enter the German tech without waiting to go to the university, she was keen to see me making a career in the automobile industry’’ says Dr. Lawrence with a sense of gratitude, by starting his conversation with BiZnomics. “Just as we have moments in time crystallized by places, music or movies that imprint upon us, the automobile left an indelible impression on my experience and who I became”.
Now an Automobile Engineer by profession with over 40 years’ experience in the Automobile Engineering Industry both locally and overseas, Dr.Perera is a diploma holder in Automobile Engineering at the CGTTI, and Institute of Motor Industry of UK. He is also a certified automobile engineer in the Institute of Motor Industry and a fellow member of the Institute of Motor Industry – UK (FIMI).
‘’I know from very hard won experience that start-ups are enormously difficult and risky and chances are you might not succeed” says Dr. Lawrence Perera, Leading entrepreneur, Chairman and CEO of Micro Holdings and Micro Cars Ltd. Dr. Lawrence’s “ hard won experience’’ is based on manufacturing the car “Micro” the first designed , developed and manufactured car in Sri Lanka.
He has received extensive training with BMW, Volkswagen – Germany and Peugeot – France. Dr. Perera described his daily sightings of stranded people on the roads due to the chaotic situation of public transport and realized the crying need for a reliable alternative. ‘’I thought that if people had a reliable, economical, decent, comfortable and affordable car that would take them to the place they want to go, the problem would be solved and many man-hours would be saved. I then set to design and develop a small car with every household in mind – and that’s where MICRO started’’ he said.
Describing his product further he states: ‘’It was the tuk-tuk that influenced me to create a small car. The Morris Minor was the smallest at the time and the dimensions of my drawing were smaller. My product which was patented in 1999 was an 80% local manufacture. As far the brand name, I decided on micro mini and finally named it MICRO’’.
Dr. Lawrence Perera had been skeptical of the success of his product at the time it was launched at the price of LKR 300,000. ‘’ At that time local products were thought to be inferior but MICRO turned out to be acceptable and most bought it because it was economically priced’’. Marketing local brands had been very competitive as it was difficult to challenge and compete with international giants in the market.
The Micro was fitted with safety standards such as air bags and seat belts. Yet, Lawrence had to stop production mainly due to complicated manufacturing process and cost of production increasing.
The garment industry in Sri Lanka has made a big contribution to change people’s mentality in buying ‘made in Sri Lanka goods’. Garments sewn in Sri Lanka have earned in international reputation and Sri Lankan consumers are well aware of this fact. The government should encourage local products, and especially an industry such as automobile requires a certain tax relief for composite material used for making cars. Adding to this, He criticizes the industrial policy and taxation systems prevailing as not being friendly and conducive to local industrialist and manufactures. The Micro brand of which Sri Lanka could be proud of became well known the world over, even in countries such as Germany, China and Korea. But I could not develop Micro because support for the automobile industry is almost zero. For one thing vehicle importers were against local manufacture since their imports business would take a downward turn. And next, the industrial policy of the country and the taxation system does not provide any impetus at all. Although a normal car is not a luxury, but a necessity”. He claims that during the last four years, the company run with losses, and that the financing aspect has been terrible. The bank loan interest rate has shot up from 6.5% to 14.5%. p.a. “Business has been thrown into a quagmire”, he says and adds, “We have to pay much more than we earn”
Dr. Lawrence opines, that Sri Lanka has been in a miasma of uncertainty for a while, and that the combined effects of numerous policy changes have thrown many enterprises including the motor vehicle industry into turmoil, insists that the country should have strong decision-taking and unwavering leaders who will dispel personal gains and crack the whip to drive away corruption while instilling discipline in all sectors, in order that the country could emerge from one of its lowest phases in recent history with a record decline in business.
Dr. Lawrence Perera’s view is that gasoline engines will gradually go out of the market. He states that with the introduction of hybrid vehicles, gasoline engines changed, but that hybrids will survive only with combustion engines. ‘’whereas Japan went for the hybrid, China jumped into electric engines which will last for another 100 years. We should also adopt the electric car. With sunshine around all throughout the year, car solar batteries fitted to electric engines can be charged at no cost and what a saving on fuel that will be! Anyway, gasoline engines will gradually make its way out of the market, in not too distant future.
With the influx of hybrid and electronic cars an eco-environment challenge will be the lack of adequate provisions to dispose of used bittern such vehicles in the future. The lack of regulators for strict recycling and safe disposal of batteries will lead to them ending in garbage dumps. Another area that needs attention to curb pollution and improve and conserve of quantity is to adopt a long-term vision or polices of emission standards. The lack of the stable policy outlook may associate Sri Lanka with volatility and high risk.
Adding to his many innovative ‘firsts’, Dr. Lawrence Perera was the first to design an economical rail solution for the Sri Lanka Railway, in 2004, the first in Sri Lanka to assemble 4×4 SUVs under the technology transfer agreement with the Korean Ssang Yong motor company, with Mercedes technology in 2006, and the first to manufacture a luxury double decker bus with the latest technology complete with fully aluminium low floor monocaqne design for public transport in 2007. Commenting on his economical rail solution Dr. Perera says: “In 2004 I designed an economical rail solution termed ‘Lanka Econo Rail’ for mass transport to replace the car in the megapolis. My proposal was to build carriages using scrapped steel, with automatic doors, good seating and all comfort. My proposal envisaged buses at relevant stations to transport the passengers to their destination like the monorail or metro in foreign countries. It was a light-rail concept place of the heavy locomotive system which has been in operation for the past 164 years. However, this was blocked by railway officers who want the steel to be sold at dirt price by the kilo, as obsolete.
Dr.Perera attributes his success to his family – wife and two daughters who had been very supportive, without their support he wouldn’t have achieved so much. Dr.Perera is determined to showcase Sri Lanka’s potential in the international car industry.