CIPM Sri Lanka – the Nation’s leader in human resource management with the guidance of its President – Jayantha Amarasinghe recently hosted a webinar to discuss an important and timely topic for HR professionals titled “Beyond HR for HR Professionals”. The discussions were focused to ascertain whether any barriers or “glass ceiling”, a metaphor usually used to discuss the career advancement of women and the barriers that they face, existed which limited the growth of HR professionals beyond the HR profession to positions of CEOs and other leadership positions in organizations. The webinar was organized by Chairman – Member Development Committee Priyantha Ranasinghe and moderated by Janaka Kumarasinghe – Past President of CIPM, COO of 1 Billion Tech (Pvt) Ltd., Non-Executive Director of Vallibel Finance PLC, and founder Director of Kentridge (Pvt) Ltd. The eminent panel comprised 3 HR professionals who have grown beyond HR to undertake leadership positions in organizations namely Dr. Samitha Perera – Director/CEO, CBL Foods International (Pvt) Ltd., Shakthi Ranatunga – COO, MAS Holdings, and Board Director of MAS Capital, and Lakmal Dharmaratne – COO, D. Samson Industries (Pvt) Ltd.
Janaka Kumarasighe stated “Along with the global pandemic, people-related priorities such as remote and flexible working, outcome-based performance management, virtual engagement, value additions, adaptability to technology, change management, and health issues have emerged and come to the fore. The time has come for Sri Lankan HR professionals to take more leadership positions such as Chairperson, CEO, COO, and Non-executive Director”.
Citing their individual experiences and their ability to reach greater heights beyond the realms of HR, the panelists agreed on the need to convert knowledge and qualifications to leadership competencies, develop the knowledge and understanding of the business and its strategies which enabled them to add value, the ability to take personal risks in pursuit of achieving goals, understanding the culture of the organization and the subcultures which exist within divisions, willingness to change and learn, and the need to be self-confident on the ability and capability for an HR professional move forward and beyond their comfort zone of HR.
“HR professionals have created this dilemma within themselves that only the other professions can go up the ladder. This is not true as anyone can acquire the right competencies if one focuses oneself and understands which areas need to be developed” said Samitha Perera.
Voicing his thoughts, Shakthi Ranatunga said that each person needs a deep technical base or expertise to launch oneself irrespective of whether they are professionals in HR, finance, marketing, engineering, or IT. He further stated that HR professionals need to strike a balance between the traditional IR/ER role which is more related to regulation and control, and the more modern HR role of enabling, empowering, talent management, and in the latter case one can get a good appreciation of how an organization is run beyond control in an effort to unlock value.
Lakmal Dharmaratne’s perspective was that HR professionals have an advantage at moving beyond HR than other professionals as most of the enabling functions such as mentoring, coaching are a direct function of HR professionals who have built high competencies in these areas which are essential skills in senior leadership positions.
Quoting an international study, he further said “an international study to match competencies of CEO and marketing, HR, finance, IT revealed that the skills of a good HR professional have a better match with the required competencies of a successful CEO. This is indeed very encouraging news for HR professionals who are aspiring to go beyond”.