CIMA C-Suite Alumni Series: In Conversation with Chaminda Prabhath

With over 26 years of experience as a professional Accountant in several industries including the Manufacturing  and Service sectors, Chaminda Prabhath, the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of HNB Finance Ltd, began his illustrious career as an Audit Junior at KPMG. He said his career journey is a typical example for the CIMA C-suite Programme which is dedicated to guiding executive calibre professionals on the path to become CEOs.

“I had a chance to change my career to a different level in the field of strategic planning and joined Prime Lands as the Assistant General Manager – Strategic Business Units. During that time, I had the opportunity of serving as a Non-Executive Director for Ceylease Financial Services, which was a subsidiary of the Bank of Ceylon. After the acquisition of HNB Finance PLC, formerly known as Ceylinco Grameen by Prime Lands, I joined HNB Finance as the Director Finance in June 2011, and currently I’m serving as the Managing Director/ CEO.”

How has your experience been with the CIMA C-Suite Business and Finance  programme? 

My experience with the programme is that this is a structured and highly personalised, guided programme, and a very supportive environment was created for  the professionals who were from diverse academic and professional backgrounds. Due to the supportive approach from the Institute and the assistance from the resource personnel, even those executives from non–financial backgrounds found it easier to  adapt to the programme fast. This programme is tailored to suit the schedule of a C-suite professional who has limited time for regular classroom sessions as it allows participants to explore the readily available online study materials and self-study. It certainly requires commitment from the C-suite professional.  

Through this programme, I had a chance to improve the application of knowledge and  experience gathered during my career and, most importantly, I learnt how to quickly  convert that experience to a decision making process, enabling me to make fast and  relevant solutions. My view is that more than paving the way for a CFO role, this  programme guides professionals on the path to become a CEO. I strongly believe that  this is a very useful course, and I still apply the valuable practical lessons I gathered  from this course.

Why would you recommend the CIMA C-Suite Business and Finance  programme? 

First and foremost, this course provides you the opportunity to obtain a well recognised professional qualification, which is the highest standard for Finance and Accounting professionals worldwide. CIMA C-Suite is not merely a theoretical  programme where C-level executives need to follow a course from the beginning.  Instead, CIMA has thoughtfully designed a well-structured approach to develop the C-Suite personnel possessing different academic qualifications in diverse fields, to gain  this coveted accounting qualification to become a well-recognised, qualified Management Accountant and become well balanced C-level leaders.  

However, more than the qualification, this programme is very important as it grooms  the C-suite calibre individuals to approach business problems ethically and  transparently. The real time practical information about business issues taking place  around the world and different management techniques applied to resolve them is very useful for C-suite professionals. I’m impressed with the learning outcome and I highly recommend this programme as this programme produces an accomplished, complete C-Suite professional. 

How does this programme improve skills and create value for C-level  executives? 

Rather than learning the theory, in this programme one learns the practical  applications of businesses in different industries, which is very interesting. It allows the  executives to gather in-depth understanding about real business scenarios and come up  with suitable solutions. It provides a platform to improve the skills through the  Continuous Professional Development events, online seminars and interviews with  industry leaders. Also, the opportunity for networking with other professionals as well  as to look at problems differently, is very important. The value creation of this  programme is how it fills the knowledge gap while driving the thinking forward to the  strategic level expected from a well-balanced, complete C – level corporate leader. 

Explain your experience being a member of CIMA.

It is a great experience becoming a member of CIMA, which is one of the  most recognised designations for finance professionals worldwide. I’m proud to have  become a Fellow member of the organisation and the qualification shows you have  mastered the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a rapidly disruptive world. This elite membership provides a good networking opportunity for career  enhancement. It provides frequent online opportunities to update your knowledge  through CPD events, webinars, and interviews and trains you to adapt to real time  challenges such as how other companies across the world perform in the post  pandemic environment. To me, the most important experience apart from achieving  this valuable qualification is the constant knowledge improvement. 

What’s the most challenging task as a senior leader of a leading Finance  company in SL? 

In my opinion, the most challenging task for a finance company at present is  maintaining a sustainable business growth in the highly competitive environment of  the regulated financial market, as there are many players competing for a small share  of the market. On the other hand, there are unregulated competitors operating in the  market, which makes the situation even harder.  

As the CEO of HNB Finance, what opportunities do you perceive for the  organisation in 2021? 

I see a number of opportunities for HNB Finance Plc in 2021, the main area being  Digital Transformation, as the entire world is now moving towards the digital space as  a result of the pandemic. Still there is a vast opportunity for Finance companies in Sri  Lanka to fulfil that gap.  

Also, after the pandemic, people are seeing a silver lining with the introduction of  COVID-combat vaccines in 2021, which will lead to business generation in many areas  in this new normal, providing opportunities for finance companies. Therefore, we need  to be vigilant in the frontline to provide solutions to the needy customers first, so that  we can grab the First Mover Advantage.

Apply for your Exclusive Invitation to CIMA/CGMA C-Suite Business & Finance Programme: https://bit.ly/3s9ZGAq

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