Sysco LABS

Kushani Kalpage
Director – Marketing

Q: In what ways have new working norms contributed to encouraging more women to join the workforce in Sri Lanka? And what more needs to be done to sustain this trend?

A: In Sri Lanka, this shift has had a positive impact on women’s participation in the workforce – enabling them to fulfil career, as well as personal, duties and responsibilities. More women are able to continue their chosen career paths because now, they can work remotely.

In terms of sustaining this trend, we need to strengthen our digital infrastructure and enable better global connectivity so that more women – even from rural areas – can access global remote working opportunities.

Further, more corporates should look at the option of working with a hybrid model so that their employees can remain in the workforce and contribute to the growth of the economy whilst also fulfilling their personal responsibilities.

Q: What advice can you offer other women in business as to how they can maintain a healthy work-life balance?

A: I mostly advocate a ‘work-life harmony’ over the work-life balance. Prioritising your tasks will help you to manage your time effectively and ensure that you’re making progress on the most important goals – on the work, as well as personal, fronts.

Boundaries are also of the utmost importance. You need to have boundaries between your work and personal lives. By maintaining open lines of communication, you ensure that you’re on the same page with your team and family.

You should also use technology to your advantage. Use tools and apps that can help you to manage your schedule, communicate with your team and automate repetitive tasks. This can help you to save time and be more productive.

Q: How can you be an emotionally intelligent leader who empowers teams in troubling times?

A: As an emotionally intelligent leader, it’s essential to develop self-awareness and understand how your own emotions can affect your behaviour and decision making.

Practising empathy is crucial as it helps you to understand and share the feelings of your team members who may be experiencing fear, anxiety or uncertainty. Always trust your team’s abilities; but listen also, and step in to offer guidance and feedback if needed.

You also need to build a strong rapport with your team and other colleagues, which involves being invested in their wellbeing, understanding things from their perspectives and supporting them to overcome diverse challenges.

Clear and frequent communication is the key to keeping your team informed, and ensuring that everyone is able to deliver at the levels expected of them. Leading with empathy is especially important in times such as these because external uncertainties can cause stress and other mental health-related issues, which can hinder someone’s ability to perform.

Empower your team by offering resources, and support and encourage them to take ownership of their work, whilst providing opportunities for growth and development. Moreover, be adaptable and flexible, willing to pivot and adjust plans as needed – while remaining open to feedback and suggestions from your team.

Finally, it’s also important that you set an example in terms of how you deal with challenges in your own life.

Q: And how important is mentorship to groom and encourage more women leaders?

A: Cultivating a network that can function as a support system is important and good mentorship can help with the process. Initiatives such as women’s networks are helpful because they provide a space where women can share their perspectives and learn from each other.

In terms of mentoring, it’s about passing on the knowledge gained from challenges faced and lessons learned – so that the next generation of women leaders is better informed and can excel in their careers. By supporting and encouraging more women to take on leadership roles, we can help to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Finally, to develop a successful career in the tech field, it’s essential to understand your values, purpose and talents. By aligning your work with your values and purpose, you can find fulfilment and satisfaction in your career, and achieve your goals with confidence and purpose.

“Initiatives such as women’s networks are helpful because they provide a space where women can share their perspectives and learn from each other

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