The eminent speakers at the Rotary Leadership conference 2018
Rotary which is the only service organisation which has a permanent nonvoting seat in the UN, staged a leadership seminar which brought out a key take out for Sri Lanka ‘Governance makes leadership sustainable’.
The panel included business personality Dushan Soza the current Governor Rotary Sri Lanka and Maldives, the top women entrepreneur from Kandy and a top 50 Career Professional awardee of WIM/IFC (World Bank entity) Gowri Rajan, Harvard University graduate and UN official Pushpi Weerakoon, Government official from Ministry of Finance Thilan Wijesinghe and veteran HR professional Nalin Jayasuriya.
The Former CEO of WNS Lanka – the current Governor of Rotary Sri Lanka and Maldives Dushan Soza leading the session ‘Leading with Courage’ voiced how Rotary is one of the strongest incubators for nurturing leadership for Sri Lanka starting at school life with the Interact Club and then moving the leadership agenda to the next level with ‘Rotaractors’ and finally giving leadership to the District with Rotary. If we take the top corporate leaders of Sri Lanka they have been groomed at some stage of their life by Interact, Rotaract or Rotary which is a similar trend we see globally, said Governor Soza. The essence of good leadership is the different styles of leading that is required based on the set objective and environmental factors that govern the decision. In other words, ‘Different strokes are required based on the ball that is been bowled and the pitch one is batting on’ quipped the Rotary Governor.
The next speaker that was featured to the focused group of 250 Rotarians from across the country was the first Female Governor of Sri Lanka who is an award winning and respected career business professional Gowri Rajan. “If you want to sustain the work you implement in your geographic boundary as Rotarians, we must uphold Governance at any cost. The reason being the latest research that is seen globally is that strong governance lead to sustainability of a given project”. This is what will make Rotary project different to any other service organisation as none of us can levy a management fee for the work we do. It is totally voluntary means that the money’s donated by the community is been spent with a purpose and it is only for the project assigned. There are stringent audit requirements that must be adhered to and it is been over looked by the regional auditors and if need be, the Global Rotary Auditors which makes Rotary unique in Sri Lanka, said the top 50 career business personality of Sri Lanka Gowri Rajan.
HR personality Nalin Jayasuriya voiced that Sri Lanka is lagging behind the world on innovation with just seven innovations generating a mere 0.1 billion dollars incremental when China has generated 21 innovation with an incremental earning of 331 billion dollars in to the country within the last 15 years. “Hence let’s lead the way from Rotary by innovating at Rotary and at our work place with superior consumer solutions he said. We have showed our capability across the world on innovation and now let’s do that to Sri Lanka which is struggling at a GDP growth of 2.9% in the 3rd quarter of 2018, urged Jayasuriya.
The final speaker featured was the ‘Peace Building Expert’ working for United Nations Pushpi Weerakoon. Educated at Harvard University the speaker addressed the elite audience on ‘Conflict Resolution’ and the six steps to making this work on the ground. Her key idea was ‘People work best when they connect to their natural attitudes’ which was interesting given that it means that recruitment of the correct people to a given task was key to ensuring project success. She went on to explain the issues related to trauma healing required at the work place and strategies to breaking the cycle of violence in society which has worked well in societies in the west.
To share some insights from the Government, the Head of the National Agency for Private- Public Partnership, Ministry of Finance Thilan Wijesinghe was featured as a keynote speaker. The essence of his oration was that Sri Lanka’s corruption can never be on check given that our institutional capacity and leadership that shoulder that tasks are not as per Global standards. This has to be addressed and Rotary must support the Government just like what they did on the school project post the devastating tsunami in 2004 and the eradicating of polio in Sri Lanka and the world with a 99% effectiveness, he said.