Shakthi Ranatunga is responsible for the first three-year phase of the group’s 2025 Transformation project to future-proof MAS Holdings. During these three years, Ranatunga aims to strengthen the core operations of the group and increase profitability, so that money can be invested during the second phase to leapfrog into the future.
Rationalised costs, stronger supply chains, operational excellence and streamlined customer portfolios are the key focus areas for Ranatunga. He gives leadership to 900 new projects, which involve 1,000 executives across all subsidiaries working in teams, and Ranatunga interacts with each one of them. He has adopted a bottom-up approach, letting the teams devise their strategies to reach the goals of each project.
“My job is to ensure targets are reached. That means encouraging them if they fall behind, widening bottlenecks in decision making, providing resources and evaluating the assumptions on which team proposals are based, feasibility and that we have contingency plans.”
“My job is to ensure targets are reached. That means encouraging them if they fall behind, widening bottlenecks in decision making, providing resources and evaluating the assumptions on which team proposals are based, feasibility and that we have contingency plans.” Ranatunga says that his key input is his wisdom, from his 16 years of experience working at MAS Holdings. He finds that leaving the executives, mostly tech-savvy millennials, to come up with their own solutions is best.
“We can’t box them in and expect them to perform. We need to give them space and respect and let them take a couple of swings, but sometimes they do need guidance, because wisdom comes from failure, and I have failed many times and was fortunate enough to have leaders who guided me.”
Some solutions are relatively complex, discovering which processes can be automated, how to reduce delivery times to customers, and which types of textiles should be procured to minimise wastage. Ranatunga joined MAS in 2000, as a fresh economics graduate from the University of Kelaniya. Born into a cosmopolitan family, he had seen the struggle of the less fortunate at university and was keen to help create opportunities for such young talent.
This led him to MAS. His current job is tapping into all the experience he has acquired at MAS. Ranatunga was the Group HR Director from 2011 to 2018, before which he had experience in merchandising, logistics and supply chain management.