Establishing a Vision and Creating a Path of Scope – Chief Executive Officer of Promolanka Holdings, Adil Mansoor

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst.” – Aristotle. The definition of a hero possesses passion, diligence, and goodness, achieving more than required, like Aristotle. He demonstrated his talent to the furthest of his abilities; thus, he grew as a character and a greater being. And so, in this notion, Adil Mansoor, Chief Executive Officer of Promolanka Holdings, inspired by Aristotle, is one that has portrayed dedication, intelligence, and resilience. 

To begin with, Adil was born and raised in Colombo’s Concrete Jungle, where he attended the prestigious Royal College and Stafford International School. To further his education, he enrolled at Manchester University in the United Kingdom and later graduated in 2009. However, he found himself at a fork in the road, as the Western world was experiencing the worst financial crisis of the century, and Sri Lanka’s civil war had only ended a month before. Many of Adil’s peers who left Sri Lanka at the time preferred to stay abroad after completing their University degrees, owing to the country’s poor outlook. He, on the other hand, had a distinct perspective, affirming, “Coming home to a potentially reopened market with huge tourism and growth potential yet to be realised seemed like a dream. I felt that with an expanded exposure through my travels, I can certainly add value to my country.” Thus began Adil’s career, which has been marked by ups and downs, struggles and victories. After ten years, his career path has taken him down various paths, including growing his family business and diversifying their scope into multiple verticals, investing in Sri Lanka’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, running an investment consultancy firm, and forging partnerships across the corporate spectrum in Sri Lanka. To summarise, Adil believes that resilience, change, trust, and learning from mistakes are the central value components that have defined his work experience thus far.

If one were to consider a career in the hospitality industry, one would be making a sagacious choice. It may take a lot of hard work to get into the field and succeed, but many great things go along with following this path. When asked why he ventured into the hospitality industry, Adil embroiders that his father and family had always been in business, especially trading activities. With this revitalised potential, he guaranteed that they would concentrate on giving solutions to the sector and gradually began moving to be a turnkey service provider. As a result, they now have many companies focused on various industry elements, almost ten years later.

The essence of strategy formulation is coping with competition. Yet it is easy to view competition too narrowly and too pessimistically. While one sometimes hears executives complaining to the contrary, intense competition in an industry is neither coincidence nor bad luck. Moreover, competition is not manifested only in the other players in the fight for market share. Rather, competition in an industry is rooted in its underlying economics, and competitive forces exist that go well beyond the established combatants in a particular sector. Customers, suppliers, potential entrants, and substitute products are all competitors that may be more or less prominent or active depending on the industry.“Competition is a funny thing,” Adil accentuated when asked how he would describe the competition and what strategies he has used to differentiate his company and stay ahead. “When I first started, I competed with companies that sold the same product as me, then companies in the same market who focused on the industry, and now some of the competition is companies overseas with very different practises and roles,” he proceeded to mention. Adil never paid much attention to the competition; instead, he focused on what he thought was best for his customers and their company’s future and soon realised that they were changing the market dynamics. He believes that keeping ahead of the curve requires an organisation’s and individual’s continual evolution, stating, “That’s the only way we’ll evolve and be relevant to the times.”

The world’s reaction has been an unpleasant mixture of dread, fatigue, and déjà vu. Almost two years into a pandemic that has claimed more than five million lives and affected billions more, people everywhere are finding it hard to summon the energy for another chapter in the story. Endemicity remains the endpoint. But at the time of writing, the Omicron variant is rewriting the timetable. In Adil’s opinion, several significant difficulties are facing the hospitality industry today, including labour, excessive costs, investment in the proper sectors, and offers. The most crucial problem, though, is overcoming reluctance to change. He went on to say that Sri Lanka has enormous potential but that we have yet to see a sweeping change for the better. The country is now prepared to provide customised solutions to address these issues, and hopefully, as Adil puts it, we will be able to drive the change required to overcome these hurdles in the coming year.

Keeping a team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles is quite insightful to a leader because it involves their vision and how they help their organisation achieve its goals. Good leaders know that people need more than financial incentives to commit to long-term goals. Regardless of the industry, this can reveal actionable strategies that motivate employees or fellow team members to work toward the same vision. It takes more than astute leadership to do this, and it involves providing a source of motivation. In this context, when asked how he keeps his staff motivated amid conflicts, Adil expressed they have encountered numerous challenges and obstacles over the last ten years. While much of this journey has been focused on the evolution of their group of firms to where they are today in response to market issues, they have also had to deal with several unrelated events in recent years that have impacted the whole sector and the country a whole. Throughout it all, he proudly proclaims that his most significant strength is his team and that keeping the organisation functioning is his primary goal. He articulates that an essential part of his job is instilling the organisation’s principles and mission in every person of his team and ensuring that they live up to them. In addition, Adil believes in communication, honest feedback, and evaluation to ensure the vision and goals are matched. “These characteristics are crucial to not just staying ahead of the curve but also keeping the entire team engaged despite setbacks,” he said.

The most respected leaders know how to stay ahead in their industries. They continue to upgrade their skills, make new connections, improve their relationships and take advantage of worthy opportunities.  Growth and learning are essential components of Adil’s philosophy as a leader; as he stated, “Make time to stay current in my areas of interest and focus on ongoing learning, unlearning, and relearning processes. This and the need to always be humble and listen have been a part of my motto. I believe that listening is a crucial skill to learn and improve, and it has aided my continued development over the years.” Overall, each company in his group has its own commercial objectives, but values are at the heart of what he seeks to establish in the organisation. As Adil continues to lead the firm to loftier heights, the company is on the verge of forming a leadership team to guide each of the businesses and assemble a team of people that disseminate his beliefs and principles.

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