“All professional bodies are on a common platform to develop the finance profession in Sri Lanka,” said Nilusha Ranasinghe – Head of ACCA (Sri Lanka and Maldives). These initiatives contribute towards capacity building and directly impact the economic development of the nation.

Ranasinghe asserted: “BPO/KPO outsourcing industries are among the main industries where local talent is in high demand.” Therefore, professional bodies collaborate to create synergies to develop the profession and subsequently spur economic development.

Finance has always been considered a back office function with a number cruncher role. Ranasinghe squashed this idea: “The finance profession has changed in the last decade, opening doors to strategic work both in Sri Lanka and globally.”

She remarked: “You will be looked at as a business enabler when you choose finance education.” A knowledge of finance is important when a company considers business structuring, project management, commercial finance; strategy and leadership; or investor relations, she added.

However, the pandemic has put a vicious spin on the education sector. Initially, learning partners were unprepared to adopt e-learning but soon, professional bodes developed an array of digital tools, assessment mechanisms, mentoring and soft skills development programmes, and networking opportunities.

“Quality education is a social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of each student regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or geographic location,” stated Ranasinghe.

She affirmed that creating an equal platform and eliminating artificial barriers are necessary to achieve goals such as poverty alleviation. To this, she added: “The teacher and teaching methods are basic elements that influence the quality of education.”

Furthermore, Ranasinghe commented on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She believes that the world is not even close to achieving the educational goals set by the UN.

Meanwhile, her assessment of the World Bank matrix of Learning Poverty was grim as well: “Eighty percent of 10-year-olds in low-income countries cannot read and write.” The COVID-19 crisis has created further inequalities since around 94 percent of children across the globe have been out of school.

Although secondary and tertiary education shifted online successfully, Ranasinghe added that “the quality of education is not limited to delivering what is written in a textbook but a holistic approach where your emotional quota and technical knowledge are taken together as a whole.”

Additionally, her perspective on climate change was as follows: “A recent report from leading scientists in the world represents an earsplitting wake-up call to impending global disaster.” And she emphasised that urgent and unprecedented change is the only solution.

Linking this to organisations, Ranasinghe pointed out: “It’s our collaborative act of creative thinking and collective efforts that help us progress in the global fight against climate change.” What’s more, she advocated the need for these topics to be introduced in schools and not remain confined to corporate level discussions alone.

Further to this recommendation, she urged future generations “not to follow the herd instinct.” Ranasinghe recommended taking up qualifications such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI or those that focus on data, digital and technology; strategy and innovation; and leadership, advisory and consultancy.

“An integral part of your professional career is your emotional quota,” Ranasinghe noted, adding: “I’ve come across people who have multiple qualifications but lack emotional intelligence.”

And in summing up, she remarked: “Emotional intelligence combined with technical skills would help you get recognised by any corporate head as a potential future leader. Investing in employees is the sustainable way forward for corporates.”