Empowering Leadership in the Innovation of Technology – Director – IT – A.Baur & Co (Pvt) Ltd, Anoja Basnayake

A.Baur & Co (Pvt) Ltd continues to evolve with present and new business landscapes while remaining true to its fundamental values and mission. The organization fosters and promotes a culture that values equality, diversity, inclusivity, and creativity. Anoja Basnayake has been with Baurs for 12 years, starting as Manager – IT in 2008. As Director – IT, she now oversees the group’s digital transformation strategy. Throughout her time at Baur’s, she has been impressed that women are actively encouraged to take risks and seize every opportunity to boost their self-esteem.

Anoja, as humble as she is, merely looks for challenges and has exhibited leadership and project management skills, as well as being responsible for successfully executing several initiatives in transforming business with innovation while accomplishing both a professional and personal career. As the oldest member of her family, she regards herself as a compassionate individual who is also headstrong, independent, and self-assured in pursuing her aspirations. Anoja’s role model is her mother, a strong-willed woman who exemplified tenacity, hard work, and perseverance who constantly pushed her to succeed in life. In addition, she voices her blessings to have a wonderful father, spouse and son who supported and encouraged her in life.

She commenced her tertiary education at the University of Colombo, where she earned a second-class honours degree in Computer Science. While pursuing university, she was able to follow her CIMA professional qualification. Afterwards, she began her career as a management trainee at Hayleys Exports Limited, where she gained experience in Finance, IT, supply chain. With the Y2k challenge in the year 2000, the firm chose to transition from a legacy system to an ERP, and Anoja was appointed as the Project Manager for the ERP project implementation. After the successful implementation, she was promoted to Manager IT. This was a watershed moment in her career because she had prior expertise with ERP implementation. As her career progressed, she joined Comfortware (Pvt.) Ltd, a company in the Brandix group, leading their IT Systems division where she was able to adapt to numerous challenges in the dynamic apparel industry. Later, she moved to PricewaterhouseCoopers Sri Lanka, leading the IT Strategy section in providing customers with IT strategy and project management consulting. Anoja later left consultancy to work with A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. She describes her journey at Baur’s thus far as inspiring and enriching with plenty of challenges and learning experiences. She was able to engage in a General Management Program at the National University of Singapore during her tenure. In addition, Anoja is the VP Membership of the Project Management Colombo Chapters and a member of the SAP Sri Lanka User groups committee, where she shares her knowledge and experience with the industry.

In response to her thoughts on Sri Lanka’s thriving startups in the digital field, Anoja expresses that Sri Lanka is on an astonishing ascent in the highly competitive global innovation arena and is beginning to turn heads worldwide in Asian countries. However, because of the restricted travel caused by the present pandemic crisis, businesses are increasingly looking for competitive, high-quality, and cost-effective new solutions. During the recent past the Sri Lankan Government, private sector, and other IT sector bodies have made progressive steps towards creating an innovation ecosystem towards the start-up in the tech space.  The most important thing, according to Anoja, is that all stakeholders actively cooperate to reduce red tape, allowing innovators and new business owners to have more supportive environments in which to do business, sustain, and increase global competitiveness. In addition, she says that Sri Lanka has a very high literacy rate in the region, particularly in technology. Thus, it’s vital to create an environment where the country can realize its full potential by facilitating trade and business, propagating education and employment, encouraging research and innovation, and promoting the growth of women technopreneurs and women’s involvement with the potential.

When asked about the government’s emphasis on global technologies, Anoja discloses that rising global technology trends are set to cause an exponential change in the world and disrupt significant industries worldwide. She sees the same trend reshaping the way businesses operate in Sri Lanka today. She says that the government is working on developing the legislative framework for digitization and e-government activities.

In response to a question on the digital challenges encountered by A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd – and what techniques Anoja has adapted to keep ahead of the curve – she communicates that, while Baurs does not publicize it, they were early adopters of technology in the 1980s. The company was one of the first organizations to purchase the IBM System 34 in 1982 for their technology needs. They have been steadily progressing in their digitization journey, employing high-end solutions to run their business and are currently on a digital transformation journey, integrating and adapting digital technology to the business to give a better customer experience. The most challenging difficulty Baurs confronts, like all other companies in Sri Lanka, is finding solution deployment partners with technical knowledge and industry experience. Another challenge is remaining robust to cybersecurity threats while implementing new technologies. They were very early adopters of the collaboration solutions, all their business teams were connected and remotely managing the business activities well even at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early adaptation of the right technologies and integrating them into the business is one of the core strategies to stay ahead and thrive on customer satisfaction and customer value to be competitive in the market. Anoja, on the other hand, claims that they use the Agile methodology as a strategy to keep ahead of the digitization curve.

When asked what long-term goals she has for A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) In terms of information technology, Anoja declares that they are migrating their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to its next-generation, redefining value creation in the digital world as part of their ongoing digital transformation journey. She intends to accelerate business innovation with simplicity by linking people, technologies, and business networks in real-time to support dynamic business models. She also intends to improve the Corporate Analytics and Business Intelligence platform for all levels of decision-makers and boost the enterprise IT security posture by implementing new innovative technologies and processes.

The most significant value she regards is her professional approach, the expertise she offers to business activities, and the integrity that she maintains in her work and personal relationships. In addition, Anoja is goal-oriented, which has aided her in driving problems since she always retains trust and commitment. She emphasizes that her successful journey resulted from the hard effort, devotion, and a focus on delivering the best at work while caring for and managing her family life. A determined mother who attained her own, her family’s, and society’s goals, Anoja ends her statement by disclosing, “Always be focused with the positive attitude that nothing is impossible and be humble.”

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