I joined Hirdaramani in 2003 as a Management Trainee, soon after graduating from Bangalore University, India. I underwent a comprehensive three-month training, where I had the opportunity to learn the processes of each and every department of the company.
Upon completing my training, I was put into the Procurement team where I handled purchases for all the factories in the woven cluster. I was there for three years and got the opportunity to work with local as well as international suppliers. I also received on the job training and was able to greatly sharpen my negotiation skills. As this was the start of my corporate career, I was entrusted with numerous responsibilities, and the most challenging one was to identify the right source and consistency of supply.
In the year 2006, the Procurement department was decentralized, and I was absorbed by the Imports department at the Head Office. I find this to be the turning point of my career at Hirdaramani.
It was fascinating to note how all the team members at Imports had a thorough knowledge of their processes as well as a deep understanding of each other’s job role. Their positive “can do” attitude is something that is deep-rooted in me to date, and has enabled me to be more open to gaining exposure from diverse industries.
In 2010 I received my Masters Degree in Business Administration. My work experience at Hirdaramani undoubtedly helping me to complete my MBA successfully, as I had a more practical understanding of the concepts and strategies discussed in class.
This personal accomplishment was soon followed by a professional milestone as I was promoted to Manager Imports in 2012. This paved way for me to work closely with Directors of other companies in the Group. One of the biggest challenges I was given in my new role was to streamline the imports of sea cargo. I am humbly proud that I was successful in facing up to this challenge by consolidating cargo from the Far-East and Indian sub-continents, which drastically brought down the clearance process lead times and cost.
During this time, I oversaw the implementation of several new projects, such as – introducing online letters of credit, eliminating shipping costs for guaranteed shipments from the Far-East sub-continent and successfully negotiating letters of credit, making it more favorable to the company. I was also successful in implementing a freight bid system for the Group that same year, and introduced a KYC (Know Your Customer) based service provider selection process and a new forwarder evaluation process.
In April 2015 we were awarded the green channel facility by the Sri Lanka Board of Investment (BOI). Receiving this award enabled Hirdaramani to gain import and export exemptions for physical cargo verifications. It made a massive impact on the company, both financially and non financially. This was only possible due to the hard work and efforts of my team and was undeniably a significant moment in my career. Obtaining this certification has contributed to a continual smooth flow of operations at the Imports and Exports departments.
In the years since, I have had the privilege of working closely with Sri Lanka BOI on investor services and investments. Furthermore, I gained knowledge in cross trade operations and was successful in implementing an import process for the company’s operation in Ethiopia.
Aside from my exposure in the apparel segment, I also had the privilege of exposing myself to hospitality related projects of the Group and handled the project cargo clearances for Taj Bentota and Airport Garden hotels. I was also entrusted to overlook the import, export and bond operation for the Island Watch company of the Group, where we were able to obtain a private bond facility on their behalf. There again I had to work closely with various state institutions such as Sri Lanka Customs, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and several ministries, which proved to be rather challenging at first. However, with courage, persistence and the unfailing support of my team, I was able to complete these projects successfully.
Structural changes have regularly taken place at Hirdaramani, however, in 2016 a key decision was taken to centralize the imports and exports functions under H Connect (Pvt) Ltd – the Group’s outsource services company. I consider this to be a positive change, as our services were now being benchmarked against our competitors and it enabled us to remarkably elevate our service standards. We began being more customer oriented and it gave us greater confidence knowing that the commercial services we were extending to our customers were of the highest standard.
I am a firm believer that H Connect encourages its employees to – innovate, take on responsibilities outside their immediate job scope, stay open to new ideas and drives them in creating challenging stretch goals. I have been fortunate to undergo leadership and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) training during my tenure with the company. These opportunities have immensely contributed to my development, both personally and professionally.
A big ‘thank you’ to my CEO and initiator of H Connect, Dilush Perera for the continuous guidance and advice, which has helped brighten my career as well as my professional life.