Sunday, August 29, 2010

Im on Sunday Times Today!!! [Daily Mirror Article]

I was so glad to find my name on ST Business Times 2 Today - BT2 articles do not appear in their web version - So my search directed me to daily mirror page - wow - 2 paper articles - this is awesome!!! 

Highlighted in Green is my statement...

Panelists on "Team Building & Leadership Skills" at The Final Step - Soft Skills Workshops - Dr. Harsha Alles (Director, Gateway Group), Mr. Rohantha Athukorala (Head of National Portfolio Development - Sri Lanka & Maldives, United Nations Operations), Moderator Dr. Uditha Liyanage (Director, Post Graduate Institute of Management), Mr. Mahendra Jayasekera (Managing Director, Lanka Walltile PLC, Lanka Tiles PLC and Parquet (Ceylon) Limited) and Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya (Group Chief Executive, Dialog Axiata PLC) making his presentation
By Anandi Jayawardene
"The average man who is successful is not a genius.  He is a man who has merely ordinary qualities but who has developed those ordinary qualities to a more than ordinary degree." - Theodore Roosevelt
Studies by the Stanford Research Institute and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation found among Fortune 500 CEOs that 75% of long-term job success depended on people skills and only 25% on technical skills. Meanwhile, a Harvard University report stated that career achievement was 80% determined by soft skills and only 20% determined by hard skills.  It is therefore a well-accepted phenomenon that employers do in fact place great emphasis on "soft skills", which is considered an absolute vital in personal development as well as the organization's well-being.
Along with the realization that in today's competitive world an academic qualification alone is insufficient, comes the understanding that the acquisition of soft skills remains un-factored in the local education curriculum. As a graduate of a Sri Lankan University myself, I found a distinct gap between the 'academic' and facing the real world. This dilemma, which is surely felt by most local University students, is precisely what John Keells addresses in The Final Step programme, dedicated to developing soft skills in Sri Lankan University students.
The Final Step - a five-day series of Soft Skills Workshops developed by John Keells Social Responsibility Foundation (JKSRF) - was recently conducted at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura in collaboration with the Career Guidance Unit of the University. Aimed at enhancing the employability factor of local graduates, the programme seeks to attune their perspectives regarding employment in Sri Lanka's private sector which today is the primary employer accounting for over 70% of the jobs. Therefore, the sessions included in-depth discussions on employer expectations, leadership and team building, CV writing and interview facing, developing confidence and personality, working in a corporate environment, corporate hospitality (including social etiquette) and personal grooming. The programme saw an enthusiastic response of approximately 250 participants, mainly from graduating batches eager to shine in an imminent competitive working environment. 
The panel discussions involved leading personalities of the private sector. Mr. Rienzie Wijetilleke (Chairman, Hatton National Bank), Ms. Pulasthika Weerasinha (Head of Human Resources - Processes and Systems, JKH), Mr. Deepal Sooriarachchi (Former Managing Director, Aviva NDB Insurance PLC) and Mr. Dirk Pereira (CEO, Union Assurance PLC) participated in the panel discussion on "Employer Expectations", while Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya (Group Chief Executive, Dialog Axiata PLC), Dr. Harsha Alles (Director, Gateway Group), Mr. Mahendra Jayasekera (Managing Director, Lanka Walltile PLC, Lanka Tiles PLC and Parquet (Ceylon) Limited) and Mr. Rohantha Athukorala (Head of National Portfolio Development - Sri Lanka & Maldives, United Nations Operations) were part of the panel discussion on "Team Building & Leadership Skills". Dr Uditha Liyanage (Director, Postgraduate Institute of Management) chaired both sessions. Interactive workshops followed with Mr. Prasanna Perera, Director, Vishvaka Marketing (Pvt) Ltd, elaborating on the unwritten rules of the corporate environment, drawing up a winning CV, facing interviews and developing one's personality and confidence while Ms. Nayana Karunaratne of Image Consultants delved into personal grooming, corporate hospitality and social etiquette.
JKH's Head of the CSR, Mr. Lallith Ramanayake, commented that the workshops are intended to help the graduates shine, as they get ready to take on the world. "University graduates are the future leaders of our country. John Keells is delighted to be a part of their overall growth, impacting attitude, adaptability, interpersonal relations and business ethics. We have called this `The Final Step', not because there is nothing more to learn, but rather since it facilitates the stepping out from the academic world into the real world."  Manger JKSRF, Carmeline Jayasuriya added, "Whilst 'hard skills' such as academic skills and expertise are required to prove a person's suitability for a job, it is the 'soft skills' that determine the efficiency and overall success that a person might have on the job. The Final Step seeks to impart some of these soft skills that will not only increase your employability but will set you for life."
Third year student and part of the CGU organizing committee, Gayani Meegolla, said that there was great keenness to partake in these life lessons as they "develop our personal skills, play an immense role in increasing our employability and develop confidence as we face the world." Harshi Waththa added, "While we learn theories in various HR courses, this is an opportunity to explore practical approaches making it a valuable learning." Final year student, Nadheera Udawatta, agreed, saying, "we are all grateful to JKH for giving us this wonderful exposure and aiding us as we take on our futures." Indeed, having been a part of the locally university system, I would agree that such an experience would have been most beneficial for my colleagues and me.
Having held similar Workshops in the University of Kelaniya and the University of Moratuwa, The Final Step at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, is the 5th of its kind. Based on the overwhelming success of the programme and the growing demand for same, JKH promises more such programmes for the future.  

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