MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
Dr. D. S. Jayasundera
Dr. Damithlal Senakumar Jayasundera (popularly known as ‘DSJ’) was a man well ahead of his time, for he understood the value of the triple bottom line even as far back as 1978.
He is reported to have said: “As I have said before, the company’s greatest asset, which unfortunately is not recorded in our balance sheet, is our employees – for without the required quality of manpower, no diversification scheme of the company would be a success even if we were able to provide the necessary input of capital… This is my tribute to our employees.”
In 1956, he abandoned a prospective medical career to join Hayleys and within a mere eight years, Jayasundera became the first Sri Lankan to be appointed to the board of directors of the company. In 1974, he was elected Managing Director, and Hayleys’ Chairman and Chief Executive in 1977.
From the outset it was evident that Jayasundera was cut from a rather different bolt of cloth to many others who have worn the mantle of ‘business leader.’
Jayasundera may have been born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth and inherited wealth but he had an innate sensitivity for the man on the street. His vision of a successful career encompassed wealth creation for all – for employees, shareholders and the nation.
His bequest in a last will drawn up in 1987 is now the stuff of legend. He bequeathed his shareholding in Hayleys to a trust whose beneficiaries include the employees of Hayleys Group. In consequence, ever since his demise, the trust disburses a considerable sum of money among employees every year from income derived by the DSJ Trust.
Jayasundera was much in demand not only in the corporate world but also the financial services milieu, serving on the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the Banking and Finance Commission and the National Industrial Policy Committee among other appointments.
Mahendra Amarasuriya has said in tribute that he believes the late and iconic Hayleys Group chairman was his most profound career influence, adding: “He was a visionary, albeit not having a tertiary academic/professional background, and I cannot think of a better Hayleys Group chairman than him; and he was also the best corporate sector chairman during his life and times.”
In 1992, in acknowledgment of his extraordinary contribution, Jayasundera was honoured by academia and conferred a Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
D. S. Jayasundera: a man for all seasons.