FORTIFYING THE PEOPLE MANAGEMENT PROFESSION IN SRI LANKA – THE CURRENT PRESIDENT OF CIPM, KEN VIJAYAKUMAR

Enacted by a Parliamentary Act in 1976, the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management Sri Lanka (CIPM) has been in operation since 1959. As the leading professional body for human resources management in Sri Lanka, the CIPM’s 63-year-old history has been vital to the corporate sphere of the nation.

According to Mr. Ken Vijayakumar, the current President of CIPM, the institution’s stakeholders comprise its members, the non-member HR fraternity of the nation, the general public, the general public, the students and those who wish to pursue a career in people management. “At any given time, we have seven to eight thousand students at CIPM,” he said.

At CIPM, the council is elected by the members, who in turn select the president. Vijayakumar stated, “For the next two years, I’ve been appointed as President. We do this as a voluntary service.” Elaborating on this, he added that no monetary compensation is involved for this role. The organisational structure includes a CEO, who reports to the President. The Executive Council manages the institution under the leadership of the President.

Meanwhile, Vijayakumar’s full-time designation is as the Deputy General Manager, Human Resources, Administration, Purchasing and Sustainability at A. Baur & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd. He added that the company is extending its fullest support to this national initiative.

Furthermore, CIPM carries out its mission focused on a strategic plan, which is drawn up every three years. “CIPM’s strategic plan is focusing on eight strategic roles. The institute is working towards achieving those strategic goals within a three-year period from 2022 to 2025,” noted Vijayakumar.

The eight strategic roles consist of empowered authority and a national role in HR (this emphasises the implementation of a national role in HRM empowered by the Act as CIPM was incorporated by an act of parliament). Secondly, it involves setting up people management standards/certification/accreditation and thirdly enabling the HR profession as a leading strategic partner for organisational excellence. The fourth role aims to develop globally competent HR professionals.

Next, developing a national HR data hub with research and development capabilities; becoming a people management solutions provider and a globally recognised member centric organisation as well as building internal capabilities and the right culture to fulfil CIPM objectives remain the priority for the coming years.

On the other hand, driven by the aim to add value to the country and students, CIPM is working tirelessly to introduce student exchange programmes. In line with this, it seeks to offer courses in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries. Vijayakumar stated, “One of CIPM’s ambitious future plans includes partnering with globally renowned organisations to welcome high quality people management educators to Sri Lanka.”

Meanwhile, the institution plays a crucial role in HR matters on a national level. On this note, flagship events such as the International HR Conference where foreign participants and speakers grace the occasion are valuable initiatives. Similarly, the Great HR Debate, Great HR Quiz, and Great HR Practices are engaging events designed to keep students and professionals engaged, in an attempt to foster a continuous learning and development culture.

In addition to this, Vijayakumar also stated that CIPM is keen on developing national HR standards on all key result areas to create an HR Audit Framework. He further stated CIPM is also keen to develop its own leadership model suitable for the country based on native principles and characteristics.

However, from an internal perspective, sustainability has become a prominent topic. “I’ve been working on introducing urban gardening at CIPM,” said Vijayakumar, elaborating that “the staff from different departments will compete at this activity to exemplify to the students how to grow their own vegetables. The idea behind this initiative is to inculcate sustainable mindset among the student and all stakeholders.”

Furthermore, he shared the institution’s attempts to enhance student engagement programmes whilst enriching the quality of their knowledge. He said, “We hope to sign MOUs with other professional bodies to build a C-suite career for HR professionals to join the boardroom by broadening their
spectrum of competencies.” He emphasised how important it was for HR professionals to learn the other facets of business such as finance, marketing and so on. “For instance, his reciprocal agreement implies HR training for finance professionals or finance knowledge for an HR professionals who wishes to rise up the career ladder,” he elaborated.

Finally, Vijayakumar concluded with an illuminating message to upcoming entrepreneurs and business leaders. “My four formulas for success are curiosity – learning never stops, keep asking questions because the best ideas in the world come from probing answers to what you may think are stupid questions; passion for what you’re pursuing; mastery in your area of work and finally, remaining humble throughout.”

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