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Glittering evening of fine dining and fabulous entertainment at SLID’s Annual Directors’ Dinner

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The recipe for an enchanting night out: The De Lanerolle Brothers with their magnificent voices, a harmonious orchestra playing together for the first time, and delectable cuisine, with a praise-worthy cause. The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID) organised such an occasion for the fifth consecutive year on 20 October to raise funds for the free workshops that SLID conducts in cities throughout Sri Lanka. There were over 250 directors and their guests who sat to wine and dine over an elegant six course dinner with tasteful entertainment throughout the evening.

Guests arrived at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel terrace for a drinks reception, giving them the opportunity to meet and mingle with other guests. They then proceeded to the main ballroom at King’s Court where they enjoyed a fine dining experience with specially chosen wine from Wine.lk. The De Lanerolle Brothers accompanied by the 18 piece National Unity Orchestra set the tone for the evening. The orchestra comprises of highly talented artistes from around the island from all walks of life, ethnicity and religion. It was the National Unity Orchestra’s first public performance together and it was electrifying with the passion and emotion from the group channelled into the music making the live performance wonderful. 

Speaking at the event SLID Chairman Preethi Jayawardena told a full house that SLID’s Board Leadership Director Certification Programme (BLT), based on the IFC Corporate Governance Board Leadership Training Resources toolkit (Toolkit), includes relevant content applicable for Sri Lanka by SLID facilitators, and is accredited by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) was a must for directors. “BLT encompasses everything a director should know of running a company ethically,” said Jayawardena. 

BLT comprises 16 modules covering topics such as corporate governance, the business case for corporate governance, disclosure and transparency, shareowners and stakeholders, Board’s role, directors duties and liabilities, the effective Board: composition and structure, Board practices, Board procedures, governance of strategy, evaluating strategy delivery and executive directors’ performance, the governance of risk, corporate responsibility, financial oversight, reporting, corporate finance, and the control environment. Each part comprises two full days, with the whole course running for eight days over a period of four months.

He said that it was former SLID Chairman Ronnie Peiris who was responsible for initiating BLT. “We need to have proper boardroom governance training,” Peiris had emphasised, said Jayawardena. He described Peiris as being the father of BLT program.

Additionally, Richard Ebell oversees an ‘audit forum’ for directors and Faizal Salieh oversees an ‘independent directors forum’. Both these forums were initiated by SLID. We also run workshops, breakfast meetings, panel discussions, etc., regularly bringing in top resource personnel, covering important topics such as family owned business, gender diversity, etc.

He also said that SLID is a firm believer of gender diversity and pioneered this area as an organisation. Today 40% of its Council members comprises women. Jayawardena also paid tribute to SLID’s Immediate Past Chairperson Shiromal Cooray. He said that when he took over from Cooray, she had already brought SLID to its peak. He said within the four months he had been heading SLID’s operations, he has been able to raise the bar even further with the introduction of the ‘independent directors’ forum’.

Jayawardena also emphasised the importance of the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector which comprises 65% of all businesses in the country. SLID has been re-vamping this segment by conducting training programs in the hinterland. However, the biggest problem that SMEs face is access to cheap credit. The difficulty that banks have in dealing with SMEs is the reliability of their information and their financial statements. Jayawardena said that SLID need to play a responsible role to narrow the inequality of society. He said re-vamping the SME sector will greatly contribute in achieving this goal. There is no point in boasting of a $ 4,000 GDP per capita if 80% of the GDP comes from 20% of the population.

He also said that there is a dire need for development banks in the country. Jayawardena said what Sri Lanka needs is foreign direct investments rather than fly by night funds to the country.

This year’s SLID dinner was memorable in its own right as an evening of entertainment, but those involved will have also contributed to knowledge sharing throughout the island through the workshops it will finance. The Platinum sponsor was Brandix Lanka Ltd., with support for SLID from Mireka Holdings, and Daily FT and Daily Mirror as the Exclusive Print Media Partner. SLID is supported by Janashakthi Insurance PLC, BoardPac, Pyramid Wilmar Ltd. and Honda as the annual corporate partners. The other partners whose expertise made the occasion a success were Wine.lk, Coca Cola Beverages Sri Lanka Ltd. The event was compeered by Ramesh Schaffter who added his own brand of humour keeping the guests entertained whilst contributing to the success of the event. 

– Pix by Ruwan Walpola


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