The importance of discipline and planning - Mahasen Samaravijaya
CEO/ President, GVR Lanka (Pvt) Ltd – Mahasen Samaravijaya, had a heart-to-heart about his many decades of experience as an Entrepreneur and what an idealistic Sri Lanka could look like for budding Sri Lankan business people.
Originally from Kandy, Mahasen Samaravijaya immigrated to the US in August 1973, at the age of 21 years. “The US is a very entrepreneurial driven county. Statistically, 34% of businesses are considered entrepreneurial, and the US has one of the highest numbers in entrepreneurship from around the world. It’s an innovative country where the American dream is to become a millionaire.”
Mahasen believes Sri Lanka can benefit from supporting new entrants and entrepreneurs as small businesses are a strong contributor to a nation’s economic engine, creating jobs in their journey to becoming larger businesses. Stressing that Sri Lanka has a lot of opportunities and that he’d like to see the nation adopting some of the policies and procedures seen in more disciplined administrations. “By fixing these little things and ensuring fairground and fair play, we can make our market more attractive to expatriates and foreign nationals”.
According to the veteran entrepreneur – a majority of new businesses don’t survive due to poor planning and preparation. “The necessary education and skills are imperative. A business plan is imperative. Even Microsoft and Apple started as small businesses and have now become giants. Ask yourself, do you have the right skillset to start your business in the particular industry you have chosen? Do you know how to hire correctly? Entrepreneurship isn’t like going to a casino and gambling on your career, relying on lady luck. Know your subject and plan for success”.
Mahasen recalls former Prime Minister of Singapore – Lee Kuan Yew, using Sri Lanka as an aspirational model for international trade, but believes that along the way the guaranteed progression the nation could have experienced, was sidetracked. “We are not where we can be as a nation. However, I do believe the current Sri Lankan Administration sees the potential and the path for Sri Lanka to reach its true economic potential.” In addition, Mahasen stressed about the importance of the education system and maintaining the standards that Sri Lanka was once famously known for in terms of quality literacy. “We must not be disillusioned that our education system is still maintaining that standard. We need to keep developing our education system and re-affirm the importance of discipline. We need to rekindle the patriotism and the passion to work, together as a nation.”
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In addition, Mr. Samaravijaya believes that in order to achieve success, the right attitude and belief in yourself is required. “There will be roadblocks, but you have to find a way to overcome them. Nothing comes in life easy, you have to work for it.”
Likening Business to a Building, Mahasen stressed that a roof is the sales; and the pillars and foundations are the disciplines. He stressed that if the pillars and foundation aren’t strong, you can’t push for revenue or profit and expect the roof not to collapse. “The value system needs to be there. Bring the right value proposition to the customers, looking at the long-term strategy”.
While completing his education in the states, Mahasen started in manufacturing operations, honing his skills and developing his background in innovation and tech solutions. After receiving extensive experience in the high tech industry, advanced manufacturing, telecommunications, process control, the avionics industry, etc – Mahasen started his own company in 1990.
Mr. Samaravijaya is also the Founding and managing member of Arizona based Serendip Investment Group LLC (SIG); Founder of Interface Data Systems (IDS), serving as the company’s Chairman and CEO from 1991 to 2003, IDS was consistently ranked in Arizona’s 50 Fastest-Growing High Tech Companies; Founder of GVR Technologies Inc., a provider of Asian electronic outsourcing solutions to US manufacturers; Former member of the City of Phoenix Economic Development Advisory Council and served on the Board of the Enterprise Network, a leading Arizona entrepreneurial organization; and Financial supporter and Board Member of One Sri Lanka Foundation, an international not-for-profit organization that develops and implements humanitarian projects in Sri Lankan communities
During the Clinton Administration, Mr. Samaravijaya also represented Arizona at both the White House Corporate Citizenship Forum and the One America Program in Washington, D.C.