Taking on the business at the age of twenty-two upon his father’s passing, KushanKodituwakku, the Managing Director of Orel Corporation, strived towards prevailing despite all odds. With nothing being handed to Kushan on a silver platter, his success was a constant upward battle filled with blood, sweat and tears. Every fall has only helped him become bigger, better, and stronger as a person as well as a leader of a company.

Kushan is an alumnus of D.S. Senanayake College. Setting sail on the journey towards gaining his higher education, Kushan first pursued an IB Diploma at United WorldCollege, Singapore and then aimed for a degree in Engineering in the US. Upon graduating in 1995, Kushan worked in his father’s company for three months prior to the succession.

Holding a background in industrial engineering drove Kushan towards a point of challenge when it came to taking the business forward. Recalling the opportunity he had received during his time in the US, Kushan talks about the Army ROTC—a military officer training programme— that taught him a great deal about handling any unforeseen situation. It was one of the most significant sources of wisdom that helped him overcome such a challenge.

At ROTC, Kushan was able to gain knowledgeable insights on leadership. “One of the things that you learn in the military is that while all the planning is to take you to the battlefield, what happens there is purely spontaneous, thus leaving you to make quick decisions with very few available resources”. Kushan realized that the same concept played a great role in the field of business too. “It is important to go with what feels right and then course correct as you go”, he says.

Setting parameters at an early stage for the game that he wanted to play contributed towards the company’s positive growth over the years. He goes on to mention two of the most important criteria that fall under such parameters. The first being principle- centered leadership and the second being a business that stayed away from anything that would be called ‘taboo’ in the cultures it operated in. While the former helped steer him through rough terrain, the latter helped him avoid certain businesses such as alcohol, tobacco, livestock, etc. “I was lucky enough to discover such morals sooner than later”, Kushan wholeheartedly expresses.

Elaborating further on people-centric leadership, Kushan says, “I believe that we have established a very open and transparent culture where everybody has access to all information, and nobody has anything to hide. This makes establishing leadership easy on every level”. Ensuring that Orel Corporation’s leadership engine is very strong at every level, Kushan assures that employees are empowered to make decisions and move on as he plays a passive role in the company, especially now that he is retired. “While I do spend 30-40 mins of my day daily for a review, I don’t get much involved”.

After previously being a joint venture with an Australian company called Clipsal, there came a period when Orel Corporation had to decide between selling the company or becoming a stand-alone business. Due to the presence of a large manufacturing unit in Sri Lanka, Orel Corporation took on an individual journey that led to the

establishment of the Orange Electric brand in 2003. This decision-making providedOrel Corporation with the momentum to go global—setting up offices and making acquisitions across countries such as Dubai, the United States, Singapore, Europe, etc. Initially starting off with nine products that were all electrical wiring accessories, the company began expanding its portfolio. Now with ten thousand products in hand, Orel Corporation focuses on providing power to put up a variety of infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, buildings, etc. “From light meter to light bulb, we wanted to provide everything in between under one brand”, Kushan says, “And with that philosophy in mind, we added in a range of products from circuit protection to cables, and more”. The company also initiated their focus towards other sectors such as data communication, security products and even artificial intelligence (AI). Being one of the largest employers in the IT sector in the country (the total workforce nears 5,000, of which 3,500 are in IT ), Orel Corporation is also the largest AI service provider for autonomous driving vehicles.

Having faced personal experiences related to business downfalls, Kushan has learnt many lessons over time, all of which have aided the company during tough circumstances such as the global pandemic and the economic crisis in Sri Lanka. Following the formula in which 25% of their profit is saved, another 25% is spent, and 50% is reinvested, has made surviving through turbulent times, very much easier. Additionally, Orel Corporation is also looking to reach more sectors such as electric vehicles (EV), energy, food and agriculture with smart technology solutions. They want to do their part to help the country as a whole to reduce dependency on foreign resources.

Encouraging all upcoming entrepreneurs to be ready to take on the ups and downs in business, it is the natural nature of the beast, Kushan says, “Start building a reserve from a very early on. It is sure to come in handy one time or another”. At the end of the day, what any entrepreneur wants is a peace of mind.