Deshamanya Lalith de Mel recently launched his book which traces his journey to become “The First Sri Lankan on the Main Board of a Top 100 Company in the UK”. It is a narrative of his career from his school days at St. Joseph’s College, where he was instrumental in introducing rugby, straight through to Cambridge University and then returning to work for Shell where he honed his marketing skills and got caught up in motor racing.
Switch then to the British multinational Reckitt and Colman, where in the days of expatriate managers he rose up the ladder in a quick succession to the top, and then spent time in the Brazil business which prepared him for his greater international role to earn a place inthe Main Board of the Group, a top 100 company in the UK, while also being the first and only Sri Lankan to do so. He was also recognised as the “Godfather” of the Group’s pharmaceutical business.
When he retired,a cluster of opportunities was awaiting him.His company retained him to do a year’s consultancy to develop a long term strategy for their pharmaceutical business,and he also became a British Government nominated Director of CDC plc, a government owned entitycreated to support development in poorer countries.
He returned to Sri Lanka to and was invited by Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to be the Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom at a time when it went into a private public partnership with NTT.
He went on to be called upon for a number of high profile roles in the Government sector. These included his terms as: Chairman of the Board of Investment, Senior Advisor to Ministry of Finance overseeing the monitoring and implementation of major government infrastructure projects, Director of People’s Bank, Director of the State Enterprise Management Agency, and Chairman Tourism Cluster of the National Council for Economic Development.He worked free in all his government appointments and took no remuneration.
He also made his experience available to a number of private sector companies, serving on the Boards of John Keells Holdings, Hemas Holdings, First Capital, Piramal Glass, Serendib Hotels and Delmege Forsythe. Narratives and anecdotes from his experience in these companies are included in the book.
He also was a prolific writer, contributing more than 65 articles in the past decade mostly to the Daily FT. The book reproduces all his writings. A small circle of friends and colleagues were invited in thanking for their involvement in the book. Melanie Senanayake worked with him in putting the book together and the design and layout was done by Bates Strategic Alliance.