SLASSCOM #PeopleSummit 2016

The People Summit 2016 got underway with a panel of business and corporate personalities divulging the latest trends and discoveries with regard to creativity, innovation, talent retention and employee productivity. 12646763_804507763026040_2516706911759667138_o

Held at the Oak Room in Cinnamon Grand, the audience and the panel were welcomed by the Chairman of SLASSCOM — Mr. Mano Sekaram. (While it’s impossible to relate verbatim with regard to the material presented, a succinct and concise explanation of what was presented will be attempted at.)

The first presentation to take place was that of Mr. Ranbir Singh who is currently the CEO of Ekam Evolution Ltd., and who was the former MD of JP Morgan in India. Paying a great deal of importance to ROI, Mr. Singh offered an insightful look into the concept of ‘passive talent’ and how to employ talent that is ’employable’. While allocating a great deal of importance to the role companies play in the curriculum of universities, Mr. Singh also stated that social networking was mandatory in this digital age where mediums such as LinkedIn and Facebook could, in fact, offer a platform to recruit people you get to network with. He proposed asking some pertinent questions: How are your networks behaving? Do they offer ideas? What problem-solving proposals do they give?


Mr. Singh went onto mention how companies such as JP Morgan are never short of employable talent. The reason being that such companies give out the right message of who they are and what they are expecting. It’s vital that companies add onto their employer brand, and not project a personality that’s not consistent with its company culture.

As mentioned previously, social mediums such as Facebook and LinkedIn need to be leveraged in order to gain a competitive edge when it comes to employing people. What better way to project your company personality than to make your employees brand evangelists like how Google does. Although there’s the issue of risk capital, this is something that needs to be managed and considered, too.

After the conclusion of Mr. Ranbir Singh’s presentation, it was Ms. Anjalie Chatterjee’s chance to elucidate on organizational climate for creativity and innovation. Ms. Chatterjee is currently the Vice President, Talent Management and Learning & Development for TATA Communications.

Ms. Chatterjee started off her presentation by portraying the differences between creativity and innovation with the former being concerned about coming up with ideas while the latter was more to do with executing such ideas. She mentioned a very relevant quote featured on The Economist — Innovation is the single most important ingredient in any modern economy.


It was this quote that set the stage to her presentation where she adroitly pointed out how Kodak was well aware of Apple and its creation of the iPhone, but how they were too late when it came to execution. In this day and age, it is vital that companies keep innovating if they want to survive.

One may wonder how such a presentation could’ve been of any importance to an audience that were largely from the HR fraternity. That question was answered when Ms. Chatterjee quoted the Harvard Business Review of January 2016, which stated that companies are making innovation everyone’s job. Innovation is integral to the very survival of companies and even the workforce. A rather dystopian outlook of a world where robots will one day take over the jobs of people was spoken of. At present, robots are taking over call centers; and Google and the likes of Elon Musk are designing driverless cars with Apple reportedly joining this bandwagon.

Ms. Chatterjee, while talking of how TATA is almost rabidly insistent on fostering a culture of creativity and innovation, mentioned a general outline of how a company could be innovation-friendly. As per her statistics, 31% of executives state how a risk averse culture is their company’s biggest innovation set back.


But how does one foster an environment that’s conducive to innovation, she echoed the sentiments of the audience. She pointedly stated that companies should tolerate failure; innovation needs to be encouraged from the top down; there needs to be openness to new ideas; and, an atmosphere of ridicule must be done away with while challenging the status quo must be the norm.

The conclusion of her presentation segued in smoothly to the last presentation of the day by Mr. Prasenjit Bhattacharya who is the CEO of a Great Place to Work Institute in India. Mr. Bhattacharya’s presentation was on the future of work and how companies must change in order to stay competitive.

The current reality is that the proverbial ‘big fat organization’ that has thousands of employees will cease to exist. Technology, in essence, will make many jobs disappear. This has thus far been the trend for many decades and years. Consider the fact that long distance truck drivers and translators are minuscule at present. In the last 100 years, there has been a phenomenal increase in GDP along with technological innovation. But those data points should also be looked into consideration with the fact that there’s been a population explosion as well. As technological advancement increases, employment decreases — this is the present trend.

He mentioned the current dilemma that we are facing domestically, where the population are of an employable age, but are not employable in the job. He also went onto say how analytics will change the way we work and employ people. For instance, one of the current indicators of possessing potent leadership skills is how effective one is at playing video games. Compare this to how employers recruited people a few decades ago, which was based purely on academic qualifications.

A very pertinent argument presented by Mr. Bhattacharya was how companies in this age should be flexible in how they treat employees. The fact is that one size does not fit all; just as there’s no ‘average’ customer and companies treat all customers equally, the same is true when it comes to employees. When it comes to the treatment of employees there shouldn’t be a hierarchy as such, rather what is required is proactive communication.

At this particular juncture, a panel discussion took place that revolved around innovation, diversity, talent management and employability, which featured Mr. Madu Ratnayake, Head of Digital, Senior VP & GM, Virtusa; Mr. Dulith Herath, CEO/Founder,; Dr. Nirmal De Silva, Country Manager, Regus; and the keynote speakers. The panel was moderated by Mr. Hariharan Padmanaban, COO – Xcendant/Board Member of SLASSCOM.


After a generous buffet was laid out by Cinnamon Grand, it was time for two separate workshops: The Shifting Workplace was conducted by Mr. Prakash Hedge who is the Principal Consultant & Vice President of QAI Global, and Unleashing The Potential In A Multi-Generational Culture by Mr. Ameer Ahamed who is the CEO of Franklin Covey in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

The day was finally concluded at 6.00 pm where cocktails were served and an evening of networking was encouraged. Sponsors for People Summit 2016 included: IFS, HSBC, Regus, TATA Communications, Daily FT, Daily Mirror, LearnTV, Hemas Travels, ReadMe, Franklin Covey, QAI, The Kingsbury, Hemas Travels and E FM.


Bellatrix Fitness Center At Orion City

Orion City has opened up a comprehensive gymnasium, which is called Bellatrix Fitness Center, that offers an array of fitness equipment that’ll cater to all needs and requirements.
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The Bellatrix Fitness Center is open from 6.00 am to 11.00 pm and offers gym membership packages that cater to all budgets. For instance, just LKR 3,600 will get you 10 workouts that will last 2 hours each. On the other hand, a 6 month membership will cost you just LKR 16,200.

Of course, there are more plans and options available, which can be customized as per your needs and requirements. Moreover, gym instructors are also at hand to offer advice and tips on how you can maintain health and wellness.

It would be prudent at this juncture to highlight some tips that will help you burn fat, increase lean muscle, and improve flexibility.

Equipment such as the ButterFly Press, Leg Extension, Squat Rack, Bench Press, Lat Pulldown, Electric Treadmills and Free Weights would offer you a superlative fitness experience that’ll increase lean muscle, and reduce body fat. For instance, it is universally accepted that 3 to 4 sets with a rep range of 7 to 12 will assist in hypertrophy or an increase in muscle mass.

However, consistency and proper form is mandatory. It is advisable that strength training with weights should be done at least thrice a week. For instance, Monday can be Chest Day; Wednesday Leg Day; and Friday, Arms and Back.

IMG_0050 (Copy)When it comes to working out your Chest, the Benchpress is the king of all exercises. Warm up with 12 reps of a weight that’ll help you get your blood flowing. After that set is done, slowly increase the weight for the next two sets while bringing down the reps down to 8 and 6, respectively.

The same set and rep ranges can be utilized for Leg Day, where the Deadlift and the Squat are the best exercises that’ll give you a pair of toned legs. Since the legs are the largest muscle group in the body, working them out will ensure a higher calorific burn and a release of testosterone and growth hormone, which are essential for building muscle.

Finally, on Friday, choose the Barbell Curl and Triceps Extension to shape those arms. The Lat Pulldown will ensure a defined back with that classic V shape. It’s important to note that before attempting to train with weights, at least 20 minutes should be spent stretching your entire body so as to minimize any chance of injury taking place.
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An intense workout with free weights is widely regarded with helping avoid fat gain and ensuring an increase in bone density and mental clarity. Moreover, just 40 minutes of cardiovascular training on the treadmill, which can be allocated for a Thursday, can help stave off stress and will help release those enviable happy hormones known as endorphins.

An important rule of thumb is to keep challenging your body. The human body can adapt quite easily and so it’s best to change up your workouts every four weeks. For example, if you find 10 push-ups challenging today, a week later you will find that it’s something that has become quite easy to do. This is because your body has adapted and has become more efficient. What you used to burn (in terms of a calorific value) will become less as your body becomes more efficient.

In conclusion, remember that health, fitness and fat loss along with the process of building lean muscle requires a two-pronged approach. While exercise is integral, a healthy diet that focuses on your calorific needs and macro requirements is vital. A widely accepted adage is that you just can’t out train a bad diet.

Discover Your Inner Public Speaker With These Four Tips

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It’s true; the majority of us just find the whole prospect of speaking in public a very daunting task. It’s undeniable that we find our legs turn to jelly and note that our tongues have decided to boycott any effort at verbalizing even a simple thought.

But just like most things in life, what you need to do is — practice. The proverbial adage — practice makes perfect — rings true. Having said that there are a few tips and tricks that can put you at ease and help draw that inner speaker in you to truly flourish.

  1. Join Toastmasters. Sometimes the best way to swim is to jump into the deep end. It surely is daunting but you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in your endeavor. Joining the local Toastmasters club can help you network and structure out how you can become a public speaker. The whole aspect of fear dissipates when you know that you’re surrounded by people who have a common cause, which is to become a flawless public speaker.
  1. Just Talk. What is presenting or public speaking but just talking. This is something we do on a daily basis. We communicate purely to learn, and there’s no shame or fear in that. When it comes to presentations keep this in mind: the audience present is there to learn something from you, and so it’s you who is in control. Impart your knowledge and wow them.
  1. Learn To Chill. While this is easier said than done, you need to find a mechanism or process where you disassociate whatever negative emotion you feel (the jitters!) before you start presenting. For some it’s just having a cup of coffee and for others it’s listening to meditation music.
  1. As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that you practice. All you need is a group of friends, and some interesting topics to make it a fun socializing event that’ll prove to be a very rewarding experience.


All in all it needs to be said that confidence and finesse will qualities that you gain through repetition. The more time you perfect this craft of public speaking the better you will be. Being aware of current events and indulging yourself in passionate topics will ensure that you gain a great deal of knowledge. One of the easiest ways in which you can ensure that you learn from the best public speakers is by spending time listening to them. One of the best resources for this would be TedTalks on YouTube.

Of course trying to copy such erudite speakers would be the wrong intention; rather what you can do is learn from them and discover your own inimitable public speaking style. If there’s one key takeaway from this post that you should take heed of it would be putting in the time and effort to practice.


It’s All About Katha

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What it is:

Katha is a mobile app that connects interesting voice content creators with listeners. Essentially a voice version of Twitter, with an interface dedicated for sending and receiving voice clips.

It’s designed and built locally and founded by Mudith Uswatta and Mahen Rathnayaka; the two are co-founders. Mahen is the CEO currently and works on it full time while Mudith works on it part time.

How it works:

Anyone can create a channel on Katha. Others can subscribe to a channel to receive the voice clips they send out. Other than messaging all your subscribers you can also send private messages to you contacts on the app.

Subscription to channels can be free or paid for. The Katha team encourages anyone who wants to run a public channel (use Katha for anything other than private messaging) to become a verified channel. This essentially means that such channels have been personally curated by the Katha team. Verified channels are indicated by a special marker on the app.

Length of messages between normal users is limited at 5 mins. Verified channels can send out longer messages.

Katha also offers question and answer channels. These channels enable subscribers to send questions to the channel owner. The channel owner can then answer them as a private message.

How Katha plans on making money:

Creating channels on Katha is free. The team plans to monetize by taking a commission on channels that charge a fee from their subscribers (in the form of monthly subscription). The content creator (channel) will receive the lion share of the revenue while Katha takes a small cut.

Katha are also looking at partnering with brands for promotions etc.

How it got started: 

Mudith and Mahen were friends for some time and both were interested in startups. They decided to participate in the Colombo Hackathon and pitch something even though they had no idea or any product to demo. They showed up and pitched an idea that was quite different to Katha. Some of the judges were people running the Lankan Angel Network (LAN) and they offered an opportunity in a venture capital competition that was running at the time called Venture Engine.

So they found ourselves in the middle of this competition and refined their idea based on the feedback they received from pitching this to investors and other entrepreneurs. They made it to the finals of this competition and LAN wanted to fund them by providing some seed capital to run a pilot test of the concept.

Finalizing the specifics of the deal took some time as there were various issues such as Mudith not being there full-time, some investors not being based in Sri Lanka etc. The team got the investment around May 2015 and got started; since June they’ve been developing the app.

Who is using it right now:

The team is currently running a beta test with a limited test group of users. They plan to launch the app publicly in November.

They have already partnered with companies who will be their first channels. A few are research companies; they will be using it to disseminate market research using the app. Then there are channels like Yamu who will be running question and answer type of channels.

Katha strongly appeals to young musicians and bands. Local activists have also expressed interest in using the app. It was recently introduced at a conference by the head of Groudviews (a popular political blog) as a tool they plan to use next year.