New BOC GM pledges to deliver amidst challenges

Friday, 23 February 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Bandara takes over as 20th General Manager of BOC succeeding D.M. Gunasekera who completed 34 years as a career banker
  • BOC spells out three-year corporate plan focused on increased digital adoption, providing customer-centric services, expanding SME and development lending, expanding overseas operations and presence
  • Says BOC’s ability to manage change successfully helped it come far 
  • Affirms his biggest strength is BOC team, promises to make every effort to create a friendly working environment

By Charumini de Silva

The newly-appointed General Manager of Bank of Ceylon (BOC), Senarath Bandara, yesterday expressed confidence in steering the state giant to greater heights despite challenges, with a pledge to commit to maintaining its ‘Bankers to the nation’ status.

“I am well aware that the journey I embarked on today is not going to be a smooth and easy one. Many challenges will come, with the majority of them being very sudden and unexpected. However, I am confident that I can lead this great organisation successfully to the next phase, while maintaining the number one position in the banking industry we have today,” he said while assuming duties during a ceremony held at the bank’s head office in Colombo yesterday.

Emphasising that the bank has spelled out its three-year corporate plan, Bandara outlined greater digital adoption, providing customer-centric services, expanding SME and development lending and expanding its overseas operations and presence as its chief priorities going forward. 

“We have already prepared our corporate plan for 2018-2020. We will make our plans work to achieve those cooperate goals. Recently we introduced a vision, mission and values. We need to align with them; we need to uphold our values. This will mobilise all the staff towards one goal, which is being spelled out in our three-year corporate plan,” he added.

Bandara counts 28 years of experience in the bank with exposure in the key areas of investment, treasury, cooperate credit, overseas branches, international division, development banking, credit card operations, electronic banking, branch operations and channels. The 20th General Manager of BOC, Bandara succeeded D.M. Gunasekera, who retired on Wednesday, completing 34 years as a career banker.

Insisting that change was inevitable but needed to be favourably managed, Bandara highlighted the fact that BOC would have never come so far for 78 years without managing those changes successfully and harnessing their benefits for the bank. “I strongly believe that my staff will rally around me in making those changes happen in this organisation to take the bank forward. The challenges that we foresee will be easy to manage with better preparation. There is no doubt, in both instances, my biggest strength will be the BOC team which is second to none in this industry,” he stressed.

Kicking off his career as a management trainee in 1990, Bandara served as the CEO of the Bank of Ceylon (UK) Ltd. from 2011 to 2012, gaining comprehensive experience in international banking operations. He also successfully led several key projects, including the London branch subsidiarisation, a core banking system upgrade and the bank’s transformation project. Before assuming his new position, Bandara was the bank’s Deputy General Manager of Sales and Channel Management.

“When I joined the bank, I didn’t know anything about banking. I joined the bank in 1990 as a management trainee. I learned everything from everybody whom I worked with and with whom I associated. I have never said no to any assignment, I took them as opportunities to learn and gain experience.

“All the superiors I have worked with guided me in the right direction and I am truly thankful to all of them,” he said.

Bandara pledged to make every effort to create a friendly working environment at BOC, to create a happy workforce.    

Also present at the event were Bandara’s wife Manori, BOC Chairman Ronald C. Perera, senior management, the bank’s unions and other well-wishers. 

BOC Chairman Perera called on the new GM to ensure that the bank held on to its top position and to help the bank progress in a more exceptional manner, utlising innovation and technology, transforming it into a bank which catered to all segments of society, fulfilling its ambition of being ‘Bankers to the Nation’. 

“You must ensure that BOC remains the number one bank and brand — and it is a must. Immediate General Manager Gunasekara served the task very well. With over 8,000 employees in the bank, the position you take up today comes with issues, challenges, traps and various other unexpected tests. I am sure the employees will wholeheartedly support you in this journey,” Perera stated. 

“We must also ensure that BOC will always understand the diverse needs of the Sri Lankan people where technological advancement will result in simplifying the banking transaction process for all customer segments to provide financial services more innovatively through the technology of tomorrow,” he added. 

Bandara is on the Governing Board of the Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka (IBSL) and is a Director of the Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka and Finance Plc. He is a Council Member of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) and the incumbent President of the Association of Professional Bankers (APB) in Sri Lanka. He has also served as a director of the Regional Development Bank.

Prior to joining the bank he was a Temporary Assistant Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya and was a Statistician at the Planning and Monitoring Unit of the Mahaweli Authority. He was also a resource person at the Institute of Bankers in the field of Credit and Investment Management. 

Bandara graduated in Physical Science with a Second Class (Upper Division) from the University of Kelaniya and went on to acquire a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) with a Merit Pass from the Postgraduate Institute of Management of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. 

He has completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, USA and is a Fellow Member of the Institute of Bankers of Sri Lanka where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Bank Management, achieving the Best Student Award.  

Born and raised in Kurunegala, he studied at Indulgodakanda Central College. Bandara’s wife is a teacher by profession. His son is a Manufacturing Engineer with Tata Steel Europe in the UK and his daughter is a second-year undergraduate reading for a biology degree.

Pix by Ruwan Walpola