Connect: Hello Gihan. It’s great to meet you. Can you tell me about yourself?
Gihan: I was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka for the first 16 years of my life before moving to Melbourne, Australia, where I completed my Secondary Education. I was given the opportunity to pursue higher education in London, England, where I studied Business Administration. In 2005, my professional career started at HSBC’s Global Service Centre. I consider myself to be a highly motivated and an ambitious individual who is extremely passionate and grateful living a positive life enriched with dignity and courageous integrity. My hobbies include travelling, cooking, driving, restoration of classic cars apart from giving and receiving love and affection from my 9 year old son.
LSC Connect: You are currently Assistant Vice President at HSBC. Can you describe your career journey to date?
Gihan: I am extremely proud of my present status in my professional life. After returning to my homeland in 2005, I started my career with HSBC as an Assistant Manager Operations. In 2007, I was promoted to Manager Operations and entrusted with General Banking Operational responsibilities. In 2011, I moved to Global Trade and Receivables Finance Operations and took over the responsibility of managing Export Operations. More recently, I was promoted into my current role as Assistant Vice President where I am accountable for managing over 100 Trade Professionals and supporting 25 markets throughout the HSBC Group in Asia Pacific, Middle East, Europe and USA.
I have also developed core strategies to promote positive changes and lasting benefits to HSBC by driving a restructure in Export Operations. Additionally, I have been tasked with driving employee engagement activities across the whole of Global Trade and Receivables Finance in addition to leading Global Standards Deployment, a key strategic area for HSBC, and Business Continuity Management.
LSC Connect: That is an impressive resume of professional activities. When it came to choosing your professional MBA qualification, why did you choose to study with BSC?
Gihan: It was the flexible academic structure and timelines offered by BSC. It made it extremely convenient for me as I can only have limited time off work. Secondly, I was also attracted to the infrastructure and the facilities offered at BSC.
LSC Connect: Yes, a lot of our students who are combining busy professional lives with study have said that. What did you enjoy most during your time at BSC?
Gihan: Academic knowledge gained from the flying faculty and the local tutors as well as sharing best practices from fellow students. These validated my leadership style which I was already practicing at work. Furthermore I was able to meet great personalities and make good friends for life
LSC Connect: Do you have a particularly good memory from your time with BSC that you’d like to share?
Gihan: I was way behind schedule completing my final dissertation. I literally had given up. That was the time where I needed support and guidance. The encouraging words, guidance and motivation extended to me by Affli Raheem, the Campus Manager and the moral support from Amali Wickramarachchi, the Student Administrator drove me to complete the final stage of the dissertation on time. That was one of the unforgettable moments during my time at BSC.
LSC Connect: That is a great story… we are extremely proud of the commitment of our staff in supporting students. How do you think BSC prepare you for your career?
Gihan: As previously mentioned, the knowledge gained from the MBA reassured my leadership style. This gave me further confidence in leading and developing my team while implementing strategies and gaining sustainable benefits for the organisation. Personally I was able to prepare myself to move to the next level in the hierarchy of leadership.
LSC Connect: If you had your time at BSC again, is there anything you’d do differently?
Gihan: No. Not at all. I am still in constant touch with the management as well as the local faculty. I intend to start the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) with BSC in 2016.
LSC Connect: You have been extremely successful in your chosen career in banking and finance. Do you have any advice for current students looking to start a career in this sector? Is there anything they could and should be doing now?
Gihan: Leadership and management require stepping up, and thinking and acting creatively in difficult situations. They require a lot of learning, coaching and sometimes mentoring. I encourage anyone who wishes to step up to being a leader to be innovative, passionate, ambitious, and faithful and act with courageous integrity.
LSC Connect: Thank you for that advice Gihan. Before you go, can you tell me what your future professional and personal ambitions are?
Gihan: In addition to gaining more qualifications, from a career perspective, I intend to become well established in my new role as Assistant Vice President while gaining an international exposure within HSBC. From a long term perspective I hope to grow with HSBC as I believe HSBC is the best place to work. On a personal level I expect to travel the world and be a good citizen, a better father and a good cook.
LSC Connect: We wish you well in all of this and look forward to welcoming you back to BSC when you embark on your DBA in 2016.