Mahesh Amalean to deliver Ray Wijewardene Memorial Lecture 2013 today

Innovative entrepreneur Mahesh Amalean, Chairman of MAS Holdings, is to deliver the IESL Ray Wijewardene Memorial Lecture 2013 today at 5.15 p.m. at IESL Auditorium, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7.


The lecture is presented by the Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust together with the Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka, continuing the legacy and vision of the late Sri Lankan innovator.


The inaugural lecture in 2011 was delivered by Professor Anil Gupta of the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad on ‘Grassroots Innovation for Inclusive Development’; and in 2012, Professor Gehan Ameratunge of Cambridge University spoke on ‘Being Ingenious on the Nanoscale.’


The Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust was established to promote the vision of the late Deshamanya Ray Wijewardene, the illustrious engineer, inventor, airman and Olympian, who was a specialist in both sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. The Trust recognises and supports innovation, preserves his personal archives and is dedicated to continuing the pursuit of excellence, innovation and spirit of enquiry that characterised his life.


An important initiative of the Trust is the award ‘The Ray’, which is presented in his memory, to encourage ongoing invention and enterprise. It is awarded to a State recognised and awarded inventor whose work has been patented, to help him/her commercialise the invention.


An engineer turned entrepreneur, Amalean is also the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) and Executive Member of the Joint Apparel Association Forum. He provides leadership to 60,000 global associates at MAS in 41 facilities across 10 countries and has seen MAS Holdings grow into a US$ 1 billion dollar organisation within the last 25 years.


Amalean said he was captivated with Ray’s personal ethos of using his knowledge to contribute to society and is an admirer of Ray and his visionary thinking.


Speaking on the topic ‘Innovation through the eyes of an Entrepreneur’, Amalean will share insights on how he has used innovation as an entrepreneur, his thoughts on innovation as an important operating reality for long term growth and survival of the organisation, and in a broader sense, the importance it has towards the future development and growth of Sri Lanka. He will illustrate the power of ‘new thinking and innovation’ integrated into the business model using practical examples from the journey of MAS Holdings.


MAS has steadily evolved from a manufacturer to having an integrated supply chain within its own portfolio and becoming a concept to delivery service provider. Today, they are recognised as a partner and collaborator for global brands and retailers and owns Sri Lanka’s first international brand of lingerie – amante.


MAS’s business process re-engineering has seen them internalise a unique version of lean manufacturing and the Toyota production system to apparel manufacturing, thus transforming the organisation to a lean enterprise. Looking towards 2020, Amalean has personally led the formulation of MAS’s innovation strategy. The new strategy will drive the transformation of MAS into an innovation-centric organisation.


Challenging the accepted norm has been a key element of Amalean’s management philosophy, who together with his brothers Sharad and Ajay, started MAS in 1987.  Today, MAS is one of Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerates and the most respected private organisation in the country. The organisation has an empowered workforce where employees are encouraged to continuously challenge the process and status quo and be innovative.


It was Amalean’s endorsement of ‘new thinking’ that saw him conceptualise and support the development of MAS’s pioneering women’s empowerment program – MAS Women Go Beyond – in 2003. Amalean was recognised for exceptional leadership in championing women’s empowerment and support for the Women’s Empowerment Principles – a partnership initiative of UN Women and the UN Global Compact. The award highlights concrete and innovative actions taken to advance women in the workplace and community. He is one of five global business leaders recognised at this inaugural Leadership Awards presentation, receiving the award for Cultural Change for Empowerment.


In the lecture, he will also deliberate on the most important aspect of the innovation framework in any field or business – the people. MAS’s empowerment culture and strong employee value proposition sees them aggressively pursue the best in class when it comes to people, offering them a culture where experimentation and curiosity is encouraged. When other organisations give tasks and assignment, MAS usually gives challenges, stretch targets and opportunities for learning and growth which sees an unbroken stream of people being attracted to the organisation.


Mahesh Amalean stated: “As an entrepreneur, ‘new thinking’ has been my mantra, mapped through strategy into action that grew our company, nurturing our teams and localities where we operate. This gave us the ability to compete with the rest of the world. MAS aims to be a progressive organisation, aggressively searching out the next big advance that will help us continue to give a unique service and product offering to our customers.”