Sharing the Arinma Vision with Ashan Malalasekera
The Chairman of Arinma holdings tells us about how his company has been the driving force behind the development of Sri Lanka during the post-war era.
Following its establishment in 2008, Arinma Holdings has been a driving force behind the development of a post-war era Sri Lanka. With a gamut of projects including the redevelopment of critical water supply initiatives that serve populations in arid areas of the nation, Arinma Holdings has developed global partnerships with stakeholders, both locally and internationally. Led by a dynamic Chairman, Ashan Malalasekera, the organization strives to instill a social purpose within all its employees. We were able to understand their operations by speaking to the chairman himself.
When Arinma Holdings developed global partnerships with stakeholders driven by ongoing, successful delivery of large projects, how did the company reach such an influential position in the span of just 10 years?
A main contributing factor to the growth of our company was the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war; no one expected that the war would come to such a conclusive end. As a result, Sri Lanka faced a huge infrastructure deficit which required urgent financing and consortiums to aid the redevelopment of a post-war nation. Arinma stepped in to fulfill certain requirements within the water and environmental space. We undertook the initiative to implement some of these key projects and as a result, this was a defining factor in our fast-paced growth during the last decade.
Elaborate on some of the key projects undertaken by the company
One project that we are most proud of was the rehabilitation of the A9 road. Being a key pathway that formed the connection between the North and South of the island, it has always been an economic corridor for the transport of goods and services. Reconstructing this road resulted in a considerable impact in the minds of the people as it showcased somewhat of a return to normalcy. Another project that we hold dear to us would be the greater Mannar water supply project which was undertaken by one of our subsidiaries. This completion of this project resulted in the availability of much needed drinking water in a very arid zone.
What are the key risk factors and mega-trends your business faces over the next three to seven years, and how have these influenced corporate strategy?
Our strategy has been influenced by the fact that Sri Lanka has a very high climate volatility risk. In regard to this, the country needs a strong climate risk mitigation strategy over the coming years. Firms like us will have to play a key role in implementing the kind of climate resilient infrastructure to manage these potential climate disasters. From water salinity to underground aquifers, these will all be among the critical issues going forward. In terms of risks, the concern for attracting the right talent and manpower will always be a challenge. In order to mitigate the effects of this, we will have to look at alternatives.
Your company is actively involved in projects across many sectors, in your view, which sector does Arinma play the most significant role in Sri Lanka?
Our ethos and brand vision are to be the water stewardship leader in Sri Lanka. We want to focus our efforts in order to create a strong social and economic impact in the water and environmental engineering space.
How do you attract the right people to work for this company?
As a young company, we were fortunate enough to attract a dynamic and young workforce who seek a social purpose in life, coupled with economic advancement. The work that our employees do makes an impact within the communities that we operate in. When we stand firmly for something, the right people who share the same vision are automatically attracted to work with us. Having said that, I am personally in charge of the HR functions here at Arinma, as it is important that our culture and ethos is instilled in every employee resulting in total group alignment.
In current context, what is the biggest vulnerability of the industry?
The company is really trying to be strategically focused on all climate related challenges by adopting new technology. Construction is not an area where technology is usually seen but we are trying to change that. There are a lot of new developments in terms of Artificial Intelligence that can make the work we do have a much greater impact to mitigate climate volatility risk. Even in the water space, some companies have developed devices which can generate water off grid, much like the solar panels we see on our rooftops.
If you can summarize, what is your key to success?
I’d have to say that it is authenticity. At the end of the day, people respect sincerity in what you do and say. If you lead by example with a people centric focus, your staff will collaborate well with you and your goals. So yes, the key to success is authenticity, as it resonates well with people from all walks of life.
Tell us about your employment figures. How do overall project and finance figures correlate to this?
In just over ten years we have a direct employment of around 650 individuals while the indirect employment figure is over 1000 employees. On a global level, we have partnered with leaders in the global engineering and consulting space. Additionally, we have built an excellent rapport with international financing organizations distributed through Asia and Europe. Up until now, we have handled nearly 225 projects throughout Sri Lanka. Internationally, our subsidiaries have been a part of projects in Oman, UAE, Maldives and Bangladesh, which is of course quite exciting in the short space of ten years.