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Jul 31, 2020

CIMA CXO Forum shares insights to building sustainable businesses

“Two-thirds of transformation exercises fail though senior business leaders feel digital transformation is a key imperative”. 

This was mentioned by Lin Gong-Deutschmann at the annual CXO Forum of The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) in Sri Lanka, which was held on 24 July as a virtual event. 

This year’s forum was built on the theme of ‘Visionaries: Building sustainable business for Sri Lanka’s future’, focusing on laying the cornerstone for resilient businesses, thriving on the strong grip of big data, green economy and managing investor climate.

The well-rounded panel was composed of Gong-Deutschmann – Co-Founder of Artificial Intelligence Academy (AIA), Prakash Iyer – Motivational Speaker and Leadership Coach (Former MD best-selling Author Kimberly Clark Lever), Dileep Mudadeniya – Head of Brand Marketing of Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts (CEO and Vice President of John Keells Group’s Cinnamon Life Mall), Chanakya Dissanayake FCMA, CGMA – Senior Director/Country Head for Sri Lanka and Global Head of Investment Research Acuity Knowledge Partners. The session was moderated by Shiran Fernando FCMA, CGMA – Chief Economist of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

The panellists’ insights on building resilient businesses were tailor-made to address the current crisis-hit corporate environment of the country. The futuristic discussion focused on the ideal leadership attributes fit for these times, the essence of digital transformation, operationalising excellence in a crisis-hit macro environment and Sri Lanka’s way forward post-COVID-19, especially on the tourism front. 

Amongst the speakers, the echoing remark was the importance of continuously redefining the corporates’ vision (even for professionals to keep redefining themselves to suit the changing business dynamics) and utilising the power of technology especially through digitalisation as the crisis inevitably provides opportunities for the players who would leap ahead of the pack fast.

Speaking further, Gong-Deutschmann spoke extensively on the key role played by digital transformation in building future proof organisations. The pandemic has accelerated the need to have a ‘bold’ re-look of transforming corporates digitally by absorbing trending arenas such as machine learning, big data and robotics. She explained that having a clear digital transformation agenda in the overall corporate agenda coupled with a holistic approach encompassing adequate/right resourcing and building the employees’ digital capabilities play a pivotal role in success.

Bringing in the importance of having the crisis-resilient leadership qualities, Iyer presented seven strategic leadership notions to be prioritised. (1) Re-imagining the business in a wider scope; (2) Defeating distractions to build corporate resilience; (3) Futuristic cash conservation; (4) Having a collaborative mindset; (as opposed to typical competition); (5) Encouraging innovation by celebrating failure; (6) Dreaming big (10x growth mindset) and encapsulating all aforesaid together; (7) Building humane enterprises. 

Dissanayake shared live examples of how Acuity Knowledge Partners executed resilient business continuity despite the pandemic impact. While acknowledging that continuous capital injections in the western hemisphere has kept the capital market momentum up and running, he highlighted how the digital investments made in yesteryears have now become handy in business continuity attempts. Chanakya also reiterated the need to ‘fight the compulsion to absorb protectionism’ and to embrace open economic policies and regional integration, to exemplify Sri Lanka’s competitive advantage. 

Despite the immediate significant impact experienced by Sri Lanka’s major service offering i.e. tourism sector, Mudadeniya spoke positively on the recovery prospects highlighting several measures on re-imagining Sri Lankan tourism through (1) Reconsidering source markets; (2) Building strong support systems; (3) Drafting a detailed re-launch plan; and (4) Reviving tourism demand. To realise the latter, Dileep suggested to tighten the focus on wellness and luxury travel markets.

The virtual forum was attended by C-suite individuals, including CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CMOs and other leaders representing several business sectors of Sri Lanka, in addition to CIMA members. Organised by the Stakeholder Relations Sub Committee of the CIMA Country Network Panel, the event was guided by Rajeev Aloysius, FCMA, CGMA – Chair of the Sub-Committee with Rasika Galappaththy, FCMA, CGMA as Co-Chair and Nivran Weerakoon, ACMA, CGMA as the project Team Leader. 

This year’s virtual forum was sponsored by two prominent digital solution providers – Z messenger Ltd. and Ad Studio, as the Gold Sponsor and the exclusive Programmatic Advertising Partner of the event.

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