To reminiscence a bit about my early days at Elephant House; I was first interviewed by Mr Ajit Gunawardana and was assigned to CCS as a management trainee. At the time, CCS stock was trading at around LKR 70 and the economy was suffering severely with over 22% inflation. Most of our distributors were collapsing, some were holding bare minimum stock and some others were overstocked for having ‘big hearts’. Mr Jit Gunaratne, our President at the time, had the task of turning around the company. He initiated an operations review meeting, what most of the veterans at CCS came to call the ‘Thursday meeting’ or the ‘@-home’.
I was given the task, along with another management trainee, to bring visibility to the operational ‘issues’ in production, sales and distribution. Between the two of us, we discussed and agreed that the best way to approach the situation was to present the information as an opportunity rather than a threat. So instead of reporting operational ‘issues’, we started to report ‘efficiencies’, through the introduction of key KPIs. The concepts of order fill rate, pack fill rate, bullwhip effect was fresh off the pages of my MBA textbook named ‘designing and managing the supply chain by author Simchi Levi’. Initially, there was much debate and confusion around the difference between the order fill rate and pack fill rate! Getting the stock balance data on a weekly basis from over 80 distributors through a fax machine wasn’t a walk in the park, but I ensured that the data was complete and accurate by the time I had to present it to Mr Gunaratne every Thursday. The technological limitations at that time was a big challenge, yet perseverance and the thrill of receiving the opportunity to apply theory in the real world helped overcome most of the barriers I faced. It was a great start for a successful and satisfying career.