(An interview with Dian Gomas)

Dian Gomas is the CEO of MAS Holding and the President of Sri Lanka Ameteur Boxing Association and Vice President of National Olympic Committee.

Tell us about your educational background with regard to business.

I am a Fellow Member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (FCMA) UK.

I also received my Executive Education at the Harvard and Wharton Business Schools.

What made you to join a textile company following on your education of being Chartered (CIMA) Management Accountant?

I started my career as a management trainee at KPMG Ford Rhodes in the early 1980’s.

By 22 I was a Financial Controller at a British Interior Company based in Sri Lanka.

I was appointed Finance Director by 26 and moved on to the Fortune 100 Company May Corporation Inc. as the General Manager in Sri Lanka.

My foray into apparel industry was by chance on meeting with Deshamanya Mahesh Amalean, a visionary who would go on to shape the Sri Lankan apparel industry in the years to come. It was due to Mahesh’s influence that I joined MAS Holdings in 1990.

He had vision and passion to put Sri Lanka on the world map in the apparel industry. He was my inspiration to enter the industry, which led to make the transformation from being a master of numbers to a leader of men.

What are the attributes of a successful business person?

To be successful, you need to be passionate in what you do. This applies to business as much as it does to life in general. In business you have to face incessant ups and downs and you have to learn from them. You need to be strong when you are encountered with adversity and trust your intuition.

Honesty, integrity and credibility are the key to success in the long run. These are the factors that will differentiate the boys from the men. Successful businessmen are aggressive and ambitious. They are the ‘go getters’. It’s important that you play hard, play smart and play fair!

How do you balance personal life and work?

I can manage to switch gears from one role to another very easily. Today I head one of the largest intimate apparel companies in the region as Chief Executive of 14,000 employees. I also serve as the President of Sri Lankan Boxing, Vice President of the National Olympic Committee & an Ex-Co Member of Sri Lanka Cricket.

I also run my own art store, Gandhara a retail business specializing in Crafts and Artifacts. Despite my busy schedule I still find time to conduct lectures and motivational speeches every month at various forums sharing my learning and life experiences with the youth. Playing different roles is not easy, but is something which has a high value.

Did you take part in any sport at School?

Yes. Boxing has been a lifelong passion for me since my schooldays at Royal College, Colombo, where I was the reigning junior national fly weight champion for four consecutive years.

How do you motivate your employees?

They are my strength and my inspiration! I treat them as my own children. They too look up to me as a father who extends support and guidance. They know that I will never compromise on them so they appreciate very much and maintain their loyalty and faithfulness towards their boss and the company.

What motivates you to work?

I am motivated in making a difference in the lives of those who work under me and other people as well. My job provides me the opportunity to help the under privileged in the country.

I think I am very successful in making that happen. I have sent many youth through school and university, groomed budding sportsperson to be world beaters. I have seen how they strive to make ends meet. I consider it as a responsibility to provide these people with the best opportunity to succeed in life. This is my inspiration and motivation.

If there’s a dispute or a conflict among your workers, how are you going to solve it?

My approach to resolving conflict is quite similar to the approach that I would take at home because I treat my staffers as my own children. I deal with it directly as unhurtful and as possible.

Sometimes I am brutally forthright and harsh with them, especially the senior management. I am not a dictator and try to deal with emotional conflicts in a moderate and humane manner.

Don’t you experience stress when the work is piled up?

I have always performed better under pressure. I am in my element in times of crisis and change. It is said that ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’ and this is an adage that I stand by. I always put people through challenges to see how they cope with them. Anyone can be a ‘good weather manager’ but only the best has what it takes to whither the storm and come through winning.

Do you think experience alone will be sufficient to excel in the business field without paper qualifications?

You need both. Solid educational background is the foundation of success in corporate life.

However it is important to note that paper qualifications are only the entry ticket to the race.

How far you go and how successful you will be depend on experience, exposure and the correct attitude.

What is the best age for a young person to start his own business?

In today’s society, budding young entrepreneurs have sufficient business exposure before embark on their own business venture. The relevant knowledge and experience acquired through working will hold individuals in good stead as they take on the challenge of running their own business later. You can be financially secured when you serve 5-6 years in the commercial sector. It is difficult to give a number but in general,but , early 30’s would be ideal.

If GSP+ is not granted, how would it affect textile export to the Europe?

With the fluctuation of the US economy, the EU is fast emerging as the most lucrative market for Sri Lankan apparel exports.

The GSP+ benefit has been a critical factor which helped tilt the balance in favour of Sri Lankan exports to this region over the past few years. If Sri Lanka were to lose GSP+, I foresee a structural breakdown in the local apparel sector as it will be a challenge to sustain the business with increasing cost base and intensified regional competition.

What will be the fate of the Sri Lankan apparel and textile industry in years to come?

Sri Lanka has all the right ingredients to be a strategic hub for apparel manufacture. Today we have a number of local manufacturers who function as strategic vendors to the leading fashion brands in the world. We have the skill base, the infrastructure and the expertise to sustain the industry in the long run.

Other factors working in favour of Sri Lanka is the brand positioning of our country for our ethical manufacturing standards, labour conditions and social responsibility. We have been proactive in focusing on the entire value chain and now have the capability to deliver the entire design to delivery solution to our customers.

However the biggest challenge is on the cost front. It is difficult to sustain the business with ever increasing local cost base. Prices of energy, fuel and other necessities are making us non competitive against global competitors like China and India who possess massive economies of scale. This provides the biggest threat to our industry and how well we manage to mitigate this challenge will determine our success as an industry over the next 5-10 years.

source : www.sundayobserver.lk


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