It’s been an arduous year for corporates in Sri Lanka, as has been the case ever since the war ended four-and-a-half years ago. The private sector – and in some cases, the state sector too – has clearly stepped up its game in response to the island’s development aspirations, and business leaders have strived to create opportunities for their organisations to flourish in this environment of heightened activity.
The leisure and infrastructure sectors have stolen the limelight in the recent past, with many mega projects already completed, while others are scheduled to get off the ground in the near to mid term. Visionary leaders of commerce and industry are, therefore, deserving of credit for the many ventures that are set to change the future of business in the country – including mixed development projects that are likely to consist of the much disputed casinos.
Be that as it may, economic realities have not always been stress-free this year. Businesses have had to contend with the likes of cost pressures and relatively high taxes, while the increasingly frosty international reception afforded to Sri Lanka has become a bone of contention for the export sector in particular to deal with.
Helming businesses against such a backdrop is no mean task, and only the truly inspiring leaders have successfully steered the ship away from the murky waters.
It is this exclusive group of biz personalities that LMD pays tribute to in the latest edition of Businesspeople Of The Year (BOTY) – a concept that took root in 2010. Having received nominations both from the magazine’s esteemed contributors and its in-house team, this year’s final selection comprises 10 of the best in business – they have led the way in terms of performance, ethics and visionary thinking since the beginning of the year.
BOTY 2013 represents a number of sectors ranging from architecture, construction and retail operations, to leasing, apparel and diversified businesses. And the top picks among our island’s corporate captains also showcase diversity in terms of age and tenure, even if the old guard continues to outnumber the new.
Only one BOTY has, in fact, graced our annual ‘A List’ since its inception.
Two state sector leaders also feature in the 2013 list of who’s who in business for the first time – a particularly impressive feat, given the criticism that is levelled at this segment of the national economy by just about everyone. Also for the first time, BOTY has two business leaders from one group of companies.
A common factor that distinguishes the ‘chosen ones’ from the rest of the pack is that they have stayed clear of falling into disrepute. This is indeed a commendable achievement, especially given the present-day scenario where far too many businesses big and small continue to pay scant regard to the likes of conflicts of interest, unethical practices, and bribery and corruption. In a sense – and as far as it is practical, let it be said – the BOTY roll call embodies LMD’s campaign to ‘Stop Corruption’ in Sri Lanka.
The willingness and ability to take calculated risks, and spurring and supporting innovation while also staying accountable to stakeholders, are the hallmarks of businesspeople who are ahead of the game.
And as aptly illustrated in the BOTY 2013 sketches-cum-profiles that follow, they are the gold standard for individuals who aspire to leave an indelible mark on the nation’s commercial and industrial landscape.