Q: In your assessment, what mea- sures must Sri Lankan corporates take to counter the impact of the COVID-19 crisis – and what do you consider to be necessary for busi- ness continuity?
A: Organisations can navigate the crisis brought on by the pandemic by ensuring that they have robust business continuity plans along with alternative means to manage their operations.
Moreover, there’s a need to empower staff members to make decisions in the best interest of customers, and have strong systems and processes in place that are not dependent on people or their physical presence at the workplace.
Businesses must take steps to ensure that employee safety and engagement are prioritised above all else. Once this is assured, the rest will follow.
Q: As a diversified entity, how did Expolanka Holdings address the ‘new normal’ that emerged over the last 12 months – and what does the group expect in the post-COVID evolution of busi- ness?
A: As a group, we were quick to embrace the new norms that emerged due to the pandemic. It is our belief that Expolanka Holdings’ flexibility and dynamism have been instrumental in serving customers well despite the prevail- ing challenges.
With regard to the future of the business landscape, we see new opportunities arising, as well as an environment that is more geared towards the sustainability of the planet and its people, rather than one that only favours develop- ment and profits.
In our view, the pandemic has compelled the world to come to terms with the concept of ‘less is more’ becoming a reality.
Q: What is your take on the debate surrounding the pros and cons of working from home (WFH) – and how is the group implementing the concept?
A: As a group, we have been proactive in adopting the practice and the majority of our staff continues to work from home. If an organisation has the right systems and processes in place, WFH can serve as a feasible solution but there is a need for balance to ensure efficiency.
For example, some activities within Expolanka Holdings’ diverse operations require the physical presence of staff members. Therefore, it must be noted that WFH is not always the best approach where levels of productivity can vary owing to a number of challenges, which are presently being addressed by the group.
To this end, we initiated Expo Next – a programme that is less about WFH and instead, focusses on identifying more efficient and effective ways to carry out our day-to- day tasks.
Q: Could you outline the group’s priorities for the medium term given the prevailing corporate envi- ronment in which it is operating?
A: In the medium term, Expolanka Holdings is focussed on the wellbeing of its workforce, continuing to serve cus- tomers, sustaining the growth and development of opera- tions, and expanding the group’s global footprint and solu- tions portfolio.
Furthermore, we aim to support the government in pur- suing its vision for the next five years.
Q: What is your assessment of the impact of the economic climate on the logistics sector over the last year or so?
A: Our operations in the logistics sector – which is the largest contributor to the group – witnessed phenomenal growth due to the prevailing situation and ensuing disrup- tions in the market.
Q: So how do you view LOLC’s medium-term prospects?
A: LOLC’s footprint stretches across 12 countries includ- ing Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria and Zambia, and we aim to expand to up to 20 nations by the end of this year with a strong focus on Africa.
We will also introduce new treasury products and work to consolidate our digital platform further after observing the success of iPay – our payment gateway – which is experiencing increased adoption.
LOLC is looking at larger transactions, partly financing the construction of the international financial centre – one of the most iconic buildings in the Port City – jointly with China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) with an investment of US$ 1 billion, which will be a long-term cat- alyst for Sri Lanka’s economic growth.
Our timely global expansion strategy, diversified revenue streams and dynamic workforce inspire us to look forward to delivering a consistent performance despite any external challenges in the future.