MBA Alumni Association of University of Colombo holds 23rd AGM

Monday, 27 July 2020 01:12 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MBA Alumni Association, University of Colombo new office bearers 2020-2021 - Pix by Upul Abayasekara

Chief Guest Board of Investment (BOI) Director General Sanjaya Mohottala 
University of Colombo MBA Alumni Association President Ranga Ratnayake
University of Colombo MBA Alumni Association Past President Manohari Abeyesekara

The 23rd Annual General Meeting of the MBA Alumni Association of the University of Colombo was held at The Kingsbury on 25 June. Board of Investment (BOI) of Sri Lanka Director General Sanjaya Mohottala attended the AGM as the Chief Guest and Ranga Ratnayake was elected the new President.

The Guest of Honour and the Patron of the MBA Alumni Association, Vice-Chancellor of University of Colombo Senior Professor Chandrika N. Wijeratne, Faculty of Management and Finance Dean and Association Vice Patron Dr. Pradeep Dharmadasa and the University of Colombo Registrar K.A.S. Edward were also present.

MBA Alumni Association of the University of Colombo was formed in 1997 and acts as an integral part and an advocate of the MBA program of the University of Colombo, serving its members and the country at large.

Whilst the MBA experience and culture gained at the University of Colombo is invaluable in one’s career, MBA Alumni provides the opportunity to further enhance that experience by joining the larger Colombo MBA community by networking for continuous education and professional development. 

The MBA Alumni of University of Colombo plays a leading role in the corporate world and contributes in providing platforms for management thinking for the overall benefit of the MBA Program, the business community and its members. The primary function at the AGM is to elect new Office Bearers and an Executive Committee for the coming year 2020/21.

For the first time in the Association’s history, the 23rd AGM was held in a hybrid mode. Both physical and online participation was enabled in view of the current COVID-19, in addition to opening the proceedings to overseas members of the Association.

Ranga Ratnayake was elected the new President for the year 2020/21, taking the leadership from Manohari Abeysekera. Ranga is a well experienced professional, with wide management experience in the fields of research and development, sales, marketing, quality control and supply chain management. He has 19 years’ corporate experience at a couple of organisations, and currently acts as the General Manager for Lankem Ceylon PLC.

He completed his MBA from the University of Colombo in 2011. He holds a BSc Special degree in Chemistry from The University of Peradeniya and an MSc in Analytical Chemistry from The University of Colombo. Ranga is an Associate Member of Sri Lanka Institute of Directors and a Member of the Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon. He has wide experience in product development especially in the personal care and homecare industry. He is an Old Boy of Royal College, Colombo 7.

The other senior office bearers elected were Deputy President Boshan Dayaratne, Vice President Chandima Samarasinghe, Secretary Vidushan Premathiratna, Treasurer Nishantha Jayasuriya, Assistant Secretary Suraj Radampola and Assistant Treasurer Chamila Cooray.

In handing over office Manohari said that the past year was fraught with difficulty but with support of the committee, she was able to take the Association and its work forward. She thanked the committee especially for their assistance in introducing a vibrant new logo.

Ranga in accepting office, said that he looked forward to working with his committee and that he was quite conversant with the work of the Association. He explained that the business environment is undergoing a revolution at an unprecedented scale. It is not the entities that are smart or strong that will survive, but the most dynamic and agile. It’s a paradigm shift of a colossal proportion. By considering the current situation, he unveiled the new theme: ‘Embracing the Agile Revolution’ as the vision for the upcoming year.

The Vice Chancellor thanked the Association for inviting her. She said that she is already aware of the dynamism of the Association. She said the MBA Alumni was a role model for the undergraduates and that the University was proud of the MBA. She thanked the Association for accepting her request to assist the undergraduates who were affected by the pandemic. She said that the work of the Association was of a high degree and added value to the university.

The Chief Guest Sanjaya Mohottala in his speech drew on the concept of agility and said that it is through agility that an organisation can bring the change it needs. In embracing agility, a corporate leader must concentrate on five areas.

With the pandemic, organisations began to work smarter Instead of physical contact they adopted the virtual such as Zoom. He cited the example of leading supermarket chain who in the face of the virus went on an agile development process and relaunched their website and created a vibrant delivery platform. Due to physical and travel restrictions companies are taking decisions at virtual meetings and over emails. However, no one knows yet the legality of virtual documentation.

Secondly a company has to be mindful of the employees’ physical and mental health. All companies implemented health measures such as wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing. However mental health is also important. For us staying at home and then returning to office are new experiences and are very stressful. Some organisations are large and employ a large staff. Then serious decisions of retrenchment, job cuts, salary cuts have to be taken and these are very stressful, and you have to be mindful of them. In the throes of the pandemic you may tend to forget the individual.

The third area is managing skills and talent. Tomorrow’s leaders are made in the crucibles of the crisis. The time of reactive training is over. We need to have adaptive learning and such organisations are best able to integrate reflection learning and innovation into their daily workflow and respond faster and fully to unforeseen challenges. In Sri Lanka, Performance evaluation is done at year’s end. In an agile environment this cannot work. The whole company culture will breakdown with an annual feedback cycle. Evaluations may have to be done semi-annually or quarterly. This will make a difference in managing people. People will have to be cross functional and cross trained. It is how fast organisations and staff can absorb changes and build capabilities.

Fourthly the organisation must create a flexible workforce. While people rotate, there is very little cross department or cross project work. There is little opportunity to work across the organisation.

Finally, it is about leadership; with a head, heart and hand. The head requires to envision the future and focus on priorities. The heart is the seat of inspiration. You need to inspire your people. The hand ensures the right capabilities are brought together into a rapid working environment in the group to work together. Leaders lead with empathy and direction; but a two-way platform has to be developed. These priorities will bring about a purpose driven culture within the organisation.

The MBA Alumni Association of University of Colombo is an active body with a membership base of over 700 who represent diverse fields of achievement and disciplines and specialties. They organise events of national importance bringing together the academia, corporates and the public sector.

Even though only a few members were physically present, most of them joined on Zoom. There was dinner served for the attendees and the members were able to share further thoughts with the Special Guests. In conclusion President Ranga thanked the Committee for the excellent arrangements made for the meeting while adhering to health guidelines.