Having obliged to her father’s dream of her becoming a Chartered Accountant, Dilani Yatawaka, the Finance Director of the Ideal Group and a proud product of St. Bridget’s Convent, was enrolled at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, and then joined Ernst & Young to fulfill her training requirements. At the age of 23, she was a qualified Chartered Accountant as well as a Management Accountant as she completed CIMA and CA.
Soon after qualifying and completing the 4-year training requirement, Dilani left Ernst & Young to join Associated Motorways Limited (AMW) as Financial Controller, and climbing the ladder of success, she was appointed as the Finance Director.
“I was only 35 when the company’s Finance Director resigned, and soon after I was asked whether I was ready to take on the post. I thought to myself why not, even though this was a goal I set for myself at the age of 45. Something I learned at that time was, to take the opportunities that knock on your door for it does not last long, nor does it come too often.”
Later, after 19 years, Dilani bid farewell to AMW and joined the Ideal Group. She proclaimed that both AMW and the Ideal Group has helped her perform her duties as a wife and a mother while performing her duties at work.
It is Dilani’s mantra of success, of giving the best in whatever is done, that has allowed her to become the successful person she is today.
“I give my best in whatever I do — no halfway approaches. Always take that extra mile. I simply believe – if you can’t do your best then why do it at all.”
In describing her opinion on the current situation of the Motor industry, Dilani asserted that the industry is currently facing major challenges as a result of economic policies and change.
“The Motor industry has always faced challenges. If you draw a graph over the last 20 years, you’ll see significant ‘waves’ every 4-5 years and severe dips in between. Therefore, this is an industry where long-term planning is sometimes extremely difficult, and more avenues of sustainable revenue streams need to be well thought out.
“Today, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s financial situation, policymakers have been forced to introduce import bans in a wide range of industries – motor vehicles being one. This will, of course, be a very challenging industry to be in right now.”
In addition, she highlighted the need to diversify into other areas, and stated that the Ideal Group has proactively diversified into areas such as finance, vehicle assembly, solar power and has made great strides in developing its after sales network islandwide.
“Due to the many robust decisions taken by the owners in the past – to invest in the development of the aftermarket – spares and service centres across the island, to commence vehicle assembly operations in Sri Lanka, to diversify into other areas through strategic investments into the businesses of financial services, solar, courier, logistics etc, the company has managed to cushion the adverse impact to a great extent.”
Finally, in a message to corporate young females, the Finance Director stated, “The road is not easy of course, because we, as women, face many issues – not only in the corporate world, but also in the family world. For a young woman, I would think that, regardless of gender, one should have a positive mind and patience. One should never be aggressive or demanding. Tactfulness plays a very important role. Always be true to one’s self — never take more than what you can chew, but always be willing to stretch yourself to try to achieve what you think may not be attainable. Give it your best — never settle for less. Integrity, competence and commitment are vital ingredients for a successful future.
“Moreover, know your superiors and identify a work culture that is aligned with your own values and desires. For example, if you are a family-conscious woman, you need to work for a company who is equally flexible to give you the space to manage your work life balance. Otherwise, in trying moments, the mental pressures are enormous and one would find it very difficult to handle.”