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SriLankan HR gets future-ready, builds scarce critical talent

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As a proactive measure taken to strengthen its human capital, the Human Resource Division of SriLankan Airlines has initiated a series of competency building programs, which seek to unearth the next generation of star performers who will take the Airline into the future. Driven by foresight, the Airline has envisioned a series of futuristic employee development programs, which would enable its employees to stay abreast with the rapid pace of the ever-evolving airline industry and be equipped to take on higher responsibilities.  

The first phase of the initiatives commenced with the forming of a potential Country Manager Talent Pool, which seeks to nurture and groom exceptional individuals who aspire to represent the Airline in overseas stations as Country Managers. As brand ambassadors of the Airline, the Country Managers perform a crucial role in driving sales and promoting the Airline as an attractive proposition to the international clientele. 

SriLankan Airlines operates to 41 online destinations in 20 countries, where Country Managers and Area Managers are posted. The main responsibility of the Country and Area Manager is to maximise revenue generation in their respective sales regions, in order to achieve overall Company targets and objectives in a cost effective manner. Therefore, the initiative was taken to develop a group of skilled, competent and resourceful young individuals from across diverse functional areas with immense potential, who will be able to perform their tasks to perfection at any given station. 

The aspirant individuals who were selected for this pool went through a comprehensive training program, which spanned over a period of 3 months. The program focussed on developing technical competencies and soft skills, which are deemed imperative to perform the duties of a Country/Area Manager. The training sessions were conducted by an internal resource panel of the Airline, who are subject experts, in collaboration with external resource experts from leading institutions such as Post Graduate Institute of Management and British Council. The training program also had an “On the job” training component incorporated, to give the participants the opportunity to put theories learned into practice and to understand the processes. They have also completed the IATA Advanced Marketing Module, and acquired an internationally recognised certification from IATA as well. The HR Division of SriLankan Airlines was ably assisted by the Commercial Division in successfully conducting the program. 

Voicing his thoughts on the initiative, SriLankan Airlines Human Resources Head Pradeepa Kekulawala expressed: “Through a series of programs, the HR Division has taken the initiative to nurture the next generation of airline professionals, and grant them the exposure and expertise required to take on the future. As an Airline, we strongly believe that seeds of tomorrow should be planted today. Therefore it’s of paramount importance that we invest in promising individuals and harness their talents, which would enable them to realise their true potential. These individuals have the potential to be the frontrunners who will spearhead change and lead the Airline into the future.”

Sharing his thoughts on the program, Worldwide Sales and Distribution Head Dimuthu Tennakoon noted: “In an ever-evolving industry, it’s important that SriLankan as an organisation look to stay one step ahead by gearing up for future challenges. The best way to confront and counter the challenges which we may experience in future is to have a future-ready workforce who are skilled, capable and competent of driving the Airline forward. A program of this scale will sharpen their skills and make them better equipped to take on future challenges.” 

With the successful completion of the training program, the Airline has two more programs of similar scale in the pipeline to develop leadership across the Company. 

The Airport and Ground Services Division performs a key role in driving the Airline’s operations as well as customer airlines’ operations. Therefore, the next phase of the initiative will focus on forming a pool of potential Airport Service Managers, Duty Managers and Station Managers who will be nurtured, mentored and given the exposure required to grow in stature and take on the mantle of leadership. The program is scheduled to be launched in August. 

The other program which is lined up focuses on unearthing potential Revenue Management and Optimisation specialists who possess the skill, tacit knowledge, foresight, and business acumen required to drive up the Airline’s revenue. As the role requires the skills of a specialist, the selected individuals will be given an extensive structured training, which will equip them with the expertise required to perform the tasks of a Revenue Management/Optimisation Specialist. 

The Airline believes that having a future-ready set of managers and a workplace in these vital commercial and operational areas would mitigate operational risks, ensuring business continuity.

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