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Businesses need to adopt digital initiatives


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  • Following is the welcome speech delivered by CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit 2018 Chairperson Rifka Ziyard, FCMA CGMA

The Chief Guest Honourable Dr. Sarath Amunugama, the Minister of Science, Technology, Research, Skills Development and Vocational Training and Kandyan Heritage, Guest of Honour Honourable Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mr. Steve Swientozielskyj, CIMA Global President, and Mrs. Swientozielskyi, Mr. Prakash Iyer, Keynote Speaker, distinguished speakers, panellists and moderators, members of the CIMA Global Council, Chairperson Ms. Mahesha marasuriya, Co-Chairperson Ms. Manohari Abeysekara and members of the CIMA Sri Lanka Network Panel, Chairman and Member of the MESANA Regional Board, Mr. Venkkat Ramanan, Regional Vice President Asia Pacific, Ms. Geethu Ahuja, Associate Director MESANA, Ms. Zahara Ansary, Country Manager for CIMA Sri Lanka and the staff from CIMA Sri Lanka, past presidents of CIMA, my fellow members of the Organising Committee of the Business Leaders’ Summit ,fellow members of the CIMA fraternity, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen, I warmly welcome all of you this evening to the 41st CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit. 

It is undeniable that today, businesses need to adopt digital initiatives to expand or build capabilities which are innovative, efficient and sustainable. In recent years, technology has become a vital component of the finance profession and finance professionals and business leaders need to drive business success across sectors using data-driven financial insights for strategic decision making that is fit for purpose in this fast paced digital world. 

The theme for this year’s Business Leaders’ Summit is ‘From Insight to Impact – Unlocking Opportunities’. This theme has been chosen after careful deliberation, to reflect the fact that there are rapid changes and advances in technology which are disrupting the ways in thinking, interaction and communication. This in turn impacts the business operations and also affect the way the business addresses the challenges that lie before it. 

Although one side of the technology coin represents risk, the other represents opportunity. Exploiting opportunities requires knowledge, understanding, agility, innovation and ability to adopt. 

I quote from Mr. Clayton M. Christensen, ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma,’ where he pointed out that the “time to adopt is before the stone is even in the air and that point is too late!”

“Three classes of factors affect what an organisation can and cannot do: its resources, its processes, and its values.” 

This year the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit will focus on these key areas for businesses to make a paradigm shift in thinking and effort to unlock opportunities in business strategies, finance, operations and human resources. The futuristic thinking will assist all professionals to unlock opportunities within themselves and also to contribute to their respective organisations. 

We warmly welcome our Chief Guest, Hon. Dr. Sarath Amunugama who with his busy schedule has been very supportive to allocate time to attend the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit and to address the gathering today.  Dr. Sarath Amunugama as a Member of Parliament has held portfolios such as Irrigation and Water Management, Education and Higher Education, Finance and Planning, and Industries, Public Administration and Home Affairs portfolios prior to the current portfolio. We are honoured by your presence and we look forward to your thought process on our theme drawing parallels with your vast experience in the public sector.

We welcome honourable Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister of Finance and Mass Media the Guest of Honour who has always been supportive for all CIMA events and we appreciate your time taken with your busy schedule to attend the summit.

We are indeed privileged to have with us Mr. Steven Swientozielskyj FCMA, CGMA, the 85th President of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). As the CIMA President, as you lead the CIMA fraternity into the centenary year in 2019, we are excited to have you and your wife attending the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit and look forward to your address today and tomorrow on ‘Future of Finance’. Your words will definitely encourage finance professionals to ‘go beyond’ in this digital future.

We are proud to have Mr. Prakash Iyer, a reputed motivational speaker, leadership coach and bestselling author to deliver the keynote. He has vast experience in leading businesses from the front with involvement in strategic level in Kimberly-Clark Lever, Infomedia India Ltd. (formerly Tata Infomedia), and PepsiCo where as an Executive Director he was responsible for the company’s operations in South India and Sri Lanka. 

He has authored ‘The Habit of Winning,’ ‘The Secret of Leadership’ and ‘You Too Can’ and all books are national bestsellers. Apart from being a bestselling author and a leadership coach, MrIyer is now an Independent Director on the Board of Xerox India. 

We Sri Lankans share the same passion as Mr. Prakash Iyer for cricket and he also served as the CEO of the Mumbai Indians cricket franchise in their IPL title-winning campaign in 2015. We thank you for your presence, and we look forward to your keynote speech drawing parallels from your real life experiences to elaborate on our theme. 

In an endeavour to create a unique C-Suite Business Forum, our deliberations were to present a holistic view in making the shift from ‘Insight to Impact’ and to emphasise the necessity to ‘Unlock Opportunities’ across different business functions. 

In order to tackle this vast subject, the thought leadership session tomorrow has been divided into five sessions where presentations and panel discussions will deliberate on ‘Future of Finance’ – Mr. Steven Swientozielskyj FCMA, CGMA – CIMA President; ‘Global Trends in Transforming Businesses – the Big Impact’ – Dr. Rainer Deutschmann – Group Chief Operating Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC; ‘Disruptive Business Models in Sri Lanka’ – Mr. Peter D’ Almeida – Managing Director/Chief Executive – N-able;

‘Psychological Impact of the Era of Digital Disruption’ – Ms. Boonsiri Somchit, FCMA, CGMA Co-Founder and Partner at Xtrategize Technologies; and ‘Unlocking Opportunities – Leading the Next Generation of Success Stories’ (a unique C-Suite Panel discussion).

In addition to these sessions we have scheduled distinct segments which are of utmost importance for the theme: ‘Unlocking Opportunities in the Sri Lankan Economy,’ ‘Design Thinking’ and ‘Mindfulness for Today’s Business Leaders’.

Over the years, CIMA is known to have distinguished personalities gracing the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit and this year is no different. We are proud and privileged to have a great speakers, panellists and moderators who have reached the pinnacle in their individual capacity and also in the organisations they run. We are indebted to all the speakers, panellists and the moderators, who have spent a great deal of time preparing for this event, and we eagerly await their contributions.

We thank everyone who has shown such great interest in the summit that we are booked to capacity. We are deeply appreciative of you breaking away from your busy day-to-day schedules to participate in the summit. We are confident that you will benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience our speakers and panellists have to offer. 

We welcome full, thought-provoking exchanges in all the discussions which will be truly effective in enabling us to improve our knowledge and understanding.

We extend our kind appreciation to all the sponsors, partners, official print and media partners who have provided supported to unfold the Business Leaders’ Summit 2018.

We are grateful for all the advice and support we have received from many in organising this summit specifically the contributions made by Ms. Mahesha Amarasuriya, Mr. Venkatt Ramanan, Ms. Zahra Ansary, Mr. Suresh Perera and Ms. Manohari Abeysekara. I am not able to specify each one of you in the interest of time but thank you for the guidance and advice.

I wish to conclude by referencing to an advice given by former Pakistan cricket superstar and the current Prime Minister of Pakistan Honourable Imran Khan when he attended the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit in 2005 and in which year the current Prime Minister of Malaysia Honourable Mahathir Mohamed also addressed the CIMA BLS summit.

“It’s important to know one’s limitations but it is also very important never to be restricted by them.” It may be a thought from 2005 but I feel it’s apt to any time and age. I trust you all will gain immensely from the speeches today and the sessions lined up for tomorrow and may the deliberations in the conference compel you to unlock opportunities. 

Thank you!


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