Business Times

Applying for a job is serious business say top CEOs

By Sunimalee Dias

Sri Lankan job seekers, prone to face a tough time getting in and staying there, got a sneak peak last week into what really matters when at work by three top CEOs in Sri Lanka. Employment means getting paid to do work but having the right attitude is important when working with others, the CEOs of HSBC, Virtusa and CTC opined. This was mentioned at the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) organized CEO forum titled “Entering Corporate Arena”, a unique forum for university students who are about to embark on their corporate journey.

HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives CEO Nick Nicolaou highlighted the need to hire generalists qualified with a degree from any discipline when recruiting for Management Trainee positions. At the bank, the application process is strict where it is ascertained whether candidates are suited to work in the given environment and if they have the correct aptitude.

Mr. Nicolaou observed that the undergrads should understand that more is expected and the corporate world is more structured than the academic world. It is expected that new recruits have a clear knowledge of the happenings around the world and be able to analyse; explain complicated ideas clearly; make rational decisions; bring out creative ideas; and be able to see from a customers’ point of view.

They also need to be ambitious for which they have to be driven to achieve success with a clear self-driven motivation. Mobilizing to actively work with others is a necessity for which one requires strong communications skills; be able to come across with an impact; speak up to give their view; prepared to stand their ground and challenge or criticize.

Mr. Nicolaou however noted that in trying to impress the prospective companies they should not attempt to lie on their curriculum vitas. Virtusa Vice President and General Manager Madu Ratnayaka observed that in a digitized world it is possible to get things done anywhere and that smart people can be found to work in any economy.

The IT firm looks for qualities such as the right knowledge; conceptual thinking by individuals; enthusiasm, courage, goals and values while they are also required to be able to work as a team and work as a “doer,” he noted.

Mr. Ratnayaka described the ideal employee as someone with a passion and who knows what they are best at with the ability to make money out of it. Interesting insights into what it takes to become a good employee was in active teamwork with the ability to cultivate mentors and become one; and also have a “beginners’ mind”. Ability to bounce back and not only be able to lead but also follow on and volunteer were other pre-requisites to having the right attitude at work, he noted.

CTC CEO James Yamanaka explained that it was not just important to get it right at the interviews but to learn from any possible mistakes they would make. He pointed out that it was not simply necessary to have the right qualifications but also be able to apply the knowledge gained. Be practical; there is a need to be prepared and interested; have good questions; concentrate on future potential and ambition and have the ability to become an organizational fit, he added.

The new entrants must possess people skills; not just do what is told but move beyond that limit; be able to manage your career; and bring solutions and not problems that will enable one to become a star.
Mr. Yamanaka pointed out, new recruits need to know that organizations take hiring seriously and therefore even they should put in hard work when they come in for an interview, as the CV alone will not sell their story.

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