Cubby Wijetunge – A Legendary of Lankan Identity in a Multinational Community Comments Off on Cubby Wijetunge – A Legendary of Lankan Identity in a Multinational Community 1220

The Econsult Asia research team visited Cubby Wijetunge at his residence at Charles Avenue where in retirement he enjoys a simple yet elegant life style in a pristine environment. We were anxious to learn about his journey toward a Corporate Leadership in his stellar career whilst speaks for itself and the wealth of knowledge and experience gleaned during this time.

It is important to mention that during a career spanning over 50 years where he interacted socially and intellectually with top corporates and foreigners alike, Mr. Wijetunge remained true to his Sri Lankan roots. His home and his life style boasts of a simple elegance with a local flavor, inclusive of traditional furniture. Cubby sat with our team and talked freely, imparting a deep reservoir of knowledge and experience whilst allowing us insights of his views on many subjects proving to us Sri Lankans as to why he remains a Giant in the Industry.

Cubby Wijethunga

Cubby Wijetunge known by his friends as Cubby – is a proud product of one of the country’s leading school’s St. Thomas’s College, Mt. Lavinia. Growing up his only ambition was to join the Sri Lankan Army upon leaving school. However heading the advice given by his parents he abandoned the idea and pursued a career as a Tea cum Rubber Plantation Manager in the areas of Uva, Kandy and Sabaragamuwa. His plantation career began in the year 1958 and spanned over a period of 16 until 1974 when he retired from the plantation sector as a Visiting Agent of over 15,000 acres managed by George Steuart & Co. In 1973, Mr. Wijetunge was appointed Director of Whittalls Estates & Agencies Ltd. becoming the youngest director to be appointed to the Board. However, in late 1974, Ceylon Cold Stores Ltd. was in need of a dynamic Leadership and Cubby was appointed as Chief Executive Officer representing Whittall Boustead’s. He proudly speaks how ‘Elephant House’ manufactured the bulk of the food and beverages locally due to the then import restriction systems prevalent in the country, and of how Elephant House became the much sort after household brand ranging from fresh milk and ice creams to a vast range of frozen foods such as their famous sausages as well as the Elephant House Ginger Beer. Thereafter, in 1983 Cubby joined the world renowned multinational food and beverage company Nestle as food and beverage corporate affairs and recently retired with an honorific title Chairman emeritus of Nestle Lanka PLC.

‘’How do we get out of the box’’

In 1994, Cubby headed the Industrial Association of Sri Lanka i.e. the Industrial arm of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. His main task here was to ensure that the Government sought a degree of protectionism and support for local manufacturers with a view of ensuring that the local products retained their ability to complete in both the local and international markets.With a view of achieving this insisted the Government introduce and implement policies that would support the local entrepreneurs subject to them maximizing the use of local resources in national interest for economic and social progress. He spoke of few names such as his guru the late Mallory Wijesinghe and giants like Sohli Captain, Ken Balendra, the late D.S. Jayasundera, the late Michael Mack, the Akbar Brothers, the Gnanam family, Micky Wickremasinghe, Merrill J. Fernando and late Edgar Gunathunga who were corporate personalities, their achievements and their contribution towards the development of our island nation. How they were instrumental in scouting out those from rural schools and developing local talents and grooming the new generation Corporate Leaders to take over the private sector for the future. He went on to say that whilst working in the Private Sector and the Multi-National Sector he was also well exposed to the public sector. He voiced his belief in the role the public sector has to play as facilitator, promoter, regulator, financier and navigator in the development of Sri Lanka and its need for honest technocrats and support staff following best practices and maintains their integrity at all times. He emphasized on the need for ‘profit motive’ sustaining private enterprises and a balance sheet free of barnacles.

Cubby WijethungaWhilst reminiscing, Cubby fondly remembers, how the late President J.R. Jayawardena suggested that he should give something back to his country by managing some State owned enterprises. This resulted in Cubby taking up the challenge as Managing Director of the Fisheries Corporation. He was involved in the Central Bank reform process with the IMF Resident Head, Dr. Nadeem Ul-Haque. He also spoke of having a few interesting arguments with former Governor, the late Mr. A.S. Jayawardena regarding dollarization. Cubby was also involved in the Tax and Financial Sector Reforms. He also spearheaded the famous De-regulation Committee. He has served as a Board Member of many State enterprises, including the Bank of Ceylon and Securities & Exchange Commission. He strongly feels the way forward is impeded as Sri Lanka is over regulated in all aspects and far too bureaucratic. He explained that we need much simpler and less cumbersome procedures and less Government involvement in order to install a highly efficient economy.

‘’Arrest waste’’

However, he stated that he believed that certain enterprises can play a lead role in the development of our country. “When I was highly involved in the private sector, I saw potential in some of these Organizations, and personally think, in my considered opinion, that the Bank of Ceylon, Peoples Bank, Ceylon Electricity Board and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation should not be privatized”. The Water Board, in his view, should be a regulator, but the generation of water and its distribution has to be privatized to develop that industry which has a huge potential. He was strong in expressing his views on rail transport stating that “privatizing the management of railways was vital, whilst the Government retained ownership. Such a policy is worth pursuing”. “The Government requires, to a point, competent and responsible people to manage enterprises, accountable to the shareholders – a leaf they can borrow from the private sector corporate culture. This thought is applicable to all Boards of Directors and the managements that run those enterprises, and it is their responsibility not to burden shareholders.

Cubby Wijethunga

He was quite radical in his view on taxation, which he argued that only the Western Province should be liable to modest taxes, and the rest of the country dependent on a low VAT regime, thus making Sri Lanka a new haven to attract worldwide investors with no strings attached. Quoting his own exposure to the Central Bank, he says the Central Bank must have confidence in the market. Our well known entrepreneur took this opportunity to send a message to political leaders and the public service. ‘THINK OUT OF THE BOX AND BE BOLD AND HAVE THE GUTS TO IMPLEMENT REFORMS’. There is no other way by which Sri Lanka can be made progressive – a country that is a better place to invest, a better place to live and a safe country for our tourists as well as our citizens. Let us make Sri Lanka a proud place in the world.

‘’Think local – Act global’’

I do not believe in ad hoc Public Sector Reforms – suggest to the Private Sector to re-evaluate their concept of Corporate Social Responsibility. The current Interest Rates are far too high. It should be and can be lowered by arresting waste. Cost of power/electricity should be lowered. We need to pursue obtaining power from garbage.

Cubby Wijethunga

Such a policy will be a better one, and sustainable in the long term, rather than power generated from coal. We have so many other safe options, but despite issues, we may need to explore nuclear power as a last resort. With regard to foreign policy after 1948, Sri Lanka as a Nation has not been able to manage its affairs. History, unfortunately, proves to be so. For example – Do other countries trust us? Sri Lanka must be in a position to tell other countries that we are a trusted partner. We need to lead from the front, and we need to unite within the country as a priority. Thinking out of the box, why can’t we re-examine a way for Casinos to be established in Sri Lanka, and ways and means of giving other employment to our people.

‘’I am, you are, we are, SRI LANKAN’’

By: BiZnomics Special Economic Correspondent
Photography by: Chameera Dasun

Changing Perception of Women in the Workplace 0 36

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.

Cont..

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Aquafresh -“Bringing Nature to Life” 0 34

Enhancing Healthy Living through Nature’s Resources

Aquafresh, which is synonymous with ‘Water for life’ is a well-reputed brand name and is the leader in the bottled water industry in Sri Lanka. Expanding their profile as a trendsetter in the industry, the company, Access Natural Water (Pvt) Ltd comes up with innovative techniques when it comes to fulfilling the thirst of the nation.

AquaFresh-Orange

 

At the dawn of the new millennium, Mr. Shanil Perera, Director/ COO of Access Natural Water Pvt. Ltd carried out intense research with the intention of bringing nature to life. He succeeded in scouting out the purest source and biological purification process and gave life to the brand Aquafresh, the pioneer of the Bottled Water Market in Sri Lanka. Being the first to obtain SLS 894 in Sri Lanka, Aquafresh never ceases to amaze the nation with its effort to provide the best innovative products which bring health benefits to the consumers.

From the inception, Aquafresh began to escalate the standards of the bottled drinking water market in Sri Lanka. First and foremost would be the source of water of Aquafresh which is the aquifer in the Labugamkanda rainforest. The water from the source is natural as nature has intended it to be and because of this, there is no reason to use any chemicals to purify the water. Further, the biological purification process mimics nature’s way of purifying its water, which is aeration, sand filtering, micron filtering and UV ray which is equal to the rays of the sun.

Cont..

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