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Hayleys Plantations’ Roshan Rajadurai awarded Best CEO at CMI Management Excellence Awards 2017


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Recognising a career filled with outstanding achievements in leadership and innovation, Hayleys Plantations Managing Director Roshan Rajadurai was presented with the ‘Best CEO – Agriculture Sector’ award at the recently concluded CMI Management Excellence Awards 2017.

Bestowed upon the most successful Sri Lankan corporate leaders following a stringent and holistic evaluation process conducted by an eminent panel of judges representing the private and public sectors( KPMG, PIM,EFC, IPM) together with prominent academics, the CMI Management Excellence awards are designed to showcase exemplary leaders thereby establishing an updating local best practices worthy of emulation. 

“It is truly an honour to receive this award however at the outset, I must emphasise that a CEO can ultimately only be as good as the team of employees behind him. The decisions that we have made – taking into account both profit and sustainability over the long term - have been instrumental to the success that Hayleys Plantations continues to enjoy through times of prosperity and adversity alike. 

“Today I only stand on the shoulders of giants and any success that myself and my team at Hayleys Plantations enjoys is a result of the grace of God and invaluable support, advice and guidance that I have received from mentors and leaders whom I had the privilege of working under including Hayleys Chairman and Chief Executive Mohan Pandithage, whose steadfast leadership and invaluable advice has been pivotal to the remarkable transformations that have taken place at Hayleys Plantations over the past five years. I am I was also extremely blessed to have learned from the tremendous examples of mentors like Dr. Dan Seevaratnam, Nimal Amarasekera, Ryle Perera, Upali Horadagoda and the Late Charles Ramanaden and Merril Fernando. I have been truly blessed to have been mentored by such great personalities,” Rajadurai stated. 

A product of Trinity College, Kandy, Rajadurai gravitated to leadership roles from a young age, having excelled in both academics and sports. He was a Triple Coloursman and a Trinity Lion representing and Captaining teams at Trinity, Central Province, JEDB, Planters and at the National level in Cricket, Hockey, Rugby, Badminton and Athletics. Having represented Sri Lanka Schools in three sports and JEDB in five sports, he had the unique distinction in Trinity being awarded the Prize for Best Results in A/Ls and also the All Round Excellence in Games Trophy. 

Rajadurai always nurtured an affinity for the outdoors and so he made the purposeful choice at a young age to work in Sri Lanka’s Plantation sector in spite of being selected to the University of Colombo. He went on to win Gold Medal and Distinctions in Diplomas and Professional Examinations in Plantation Management at NIPM and topping the batch each year. He also won the Gold Medal at the BSc for Best Performance and attaining his Master of Business Administration (MBA) with Distinction at Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya. He is currently following his Doctoral studies.

Commencing his career as a Trainee Assistant Manager in 1983 in JEDB at Diyagama West Estate, Agrapatana, Rajadurai steadily rose to prominence for his extensive technical knowledge, performance and unwavering commitment to constantly refining his work. While he first took the helm at Kelani Valley Plantations (KVPL) and Talawakelle Tea Estates (TTEL) in 2013, his involvement with the Hayleys Group’s award winning plantation sector first began in 1993 when he assumed the role of Manager of KVPL’s Glassaugh Estate. Following a highly successful 4 year tenure, he then took over as Manager of KVPL’s flagship property, Pedro Estate, Nuwara Eliya becoming the youngest-ever Manager at Pedro at just 34 years of age. 

When Rajadurai took up the position of General Manager of Kahawatte Plantations in 2002, he concluded he left KVPL having overseen Pedro to be a model estate and the establishment of multiple records in Tea prices and profitability, all the while maintaining the strongest labour relations in the industry at that time – as evidenced by the absence of a single general strike during his tenure, even during the Island Wide Satyagraha in 2001 organised by late Minister Thondaman.

Leaving his position as CEO/Director of Kahawatte Plantations, Rajadurai’s return to the Hayleys Group in 2013 marked the establishment of a new era of total systems management characterised by an unwavering focus on quality, environmental sustainability, learning and development, performance management, modernisation and the implementation of one of the most innovative and successful HR strategies in the industry to-date. Hayleys plantations currently manages the largest land area in the plantations having the highest number of workers with the highest annual tea production of over 20 million kilos in addition to Rubber, Cinnamon and Oil Palm and they care for a total resident plantation population of 140,000 people in 65 estates.

Genuine and empowering working relationships with all of his employees is one of the hallmarks of Rajadurai’s management strategy as most recently evidenced by the two international accolades for ‘Best HR Practices for Organizational Development’ and ‘Organization with Innovative HR Practices’ at the South Asian Partnership Summit and Business Awards (SAPS) and Asia- Pacific HRM Congress Awards respectively. 

The company also won Gold at SLITAD People Development Awards and also Gold for leading HR practices in Quality of work Life at the Global HR Excellence Awards. They also won Gold at National Social Dialog and Work Place Cooperation Awards. At the National Tea awards organised by the Tea Board of Sri Lanka to commemorate 150 years of Ceylon Tea , Hayleys Plantations not only won First, Second and Third places in the National Competition but their harvesters were the Winners in the Galle and Matara districts as well beating the much vaunted Small Holders.

Hayleys Plantations won the First, Second and Third places in the Best Tea Factories in High Growns and their three Companies, Horana, Talawakelle and Kelani Valley set a unique record of being First, Second and Third in the All Island CTTA/Tea Board GSA Tea Price rankings while Talawakelle and Kelani Valley were First and Second in both the High and Low Grown rankings.

Rajadurai had been the Chairman of the Planter’s Association of Ceylon and has served and continues to serve as a Director in the Tea Research Institute Board, Rubber Research Institute Board, Tea Small Holdings Development Authority, Tea Board of Sri Lanka, Tea Council of Sri Lanka, and on many Committees and Boards related to the Plantation Industry.

Elaborating on some of the innovations introduced during Rajadurai’s tenure, Anuruddha Gamage, Deputy General Manager – HR and Corporate Sustainability drew attention to the award winning HR practices adopted by the company over the past five years that had focused ‘inter alia’ on expanding the knowledge and skills base of its employees through substantial investments into training and development, foreign scholarships, overseas training and a comprehensive and evolving approach to HR as well as every other aspect of the business – from the implementation of best agricultural and environmentally sustainable practices to integrated marketing campaigns and innovative diversifications. 

“It truly is a proud moment for all of who have the pleasure and privilege of working with Rajadurai, to see him also receive further direct recognition for his remarkable approach to management and leadership. His vision has been the driving force behind a concerted and systematic effort to infuse every aspect of the business with innovative best practices and these efforts are directly responsible for the current and future success of Hayleys Plantations,” Kelani Valley CEO Sarath Siriwardena stated. 

“Each of us has over the years learned immensely from his professional acumen, insight, and his constant effort to empower employees to achieve their highest potential. Roshan’s example is paving the way for a new generation of planters to join the industry and take it forward into a new era. While our industry continues to face challenges, the innovations taking today place across Hayleys Plantations as a result of Roshan’s vision will be key to a charting a new trajectory for the entire industry,” Talawakelle CEO Dilantha Seneviratne said.

To date, Hayleys Plantations stands as a pioneer in the Sri Lankan plantation industry in terms of its ability to consistently adapt and refine its business model to face a changing industry landscape, enabling the Hayleys Plantations produce – including iconic word famous brands in their portfolio to consistently fetch the best prices in the sector. 

The CMI Management Excellence Award represents the latest in a long series of accolades presented to Hayleys Plantations over the recent past with an all-time record total of 9 awards with 6 Gold, 2 Silver including the Overall Bronze Award for KVPL and TTEL at the National Business Excellence Awards 2017. 

They won Gold for Agriculture and Plantation Sector, Excellence in Corporate Governance, Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility, Excellence in Performance Management, Local Market Reach and Excellence in Environmental Sustainability and Silver in Capacity Building. Similarly, TTEL also won Gold while KVPL took Silver at the Chartered Accountants Annual Report Awards 2017, in addition to winning recognition at the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2017 and Best presented Annual Report Awards and SAARC Anniversary Awards (Agricultural Sector). 


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