The Corporate Chevalier – Kumar de Silva

Personality Development and Corporate Etiquette Trainer, as well as  Public Relations and Media Consultant, Kumar de Silva has certainly enjoyed a most eventful career journey over the past four decades. Having worked and interacted in different capacities with countless individuals from diverse organisations and backgrounds in Sri Lanka’s multi-layered and multi-disciplined corporate sector, Kumar has built a solid reputation for himself as one of the most sought-after trainers/consultants in Personality Development and Corporate Etiquette in Sri Lanka. 

He has also been the Official Corporate Etiquette Trainer for Mr. Sri Lanka, Mrs. Sri Lanka, Miss World Sri Lanka, Miss Universe Sri Lanka, Miss Intercontinental Sri Lanka and Mr. Sri Lanka for Manhunt International. 

Having received his training in Paris, multi-lingual Kumar is an award-winning television personality, and author of best sellers such as biographies of the late esteemed film maker, Dr. Lester James Peiries and the matriarch of the Sinhala cinema, Iranganie Serasinghe, in addition to his own story ‘Bonsoir Diaries’. 

In October 2012, the title of ‘Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts des Lettres’ (Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters) was conferred upon Kumar by the Government of France in recognition of his efforts to promote the French culture and language in Sri Lanka. 

Kumar is also known for his recent celebrity talk shows on www.pulse.lk – ‘Anything But with Kumar de Silva’ and the ‘Lockdown Diaries.’ He currently hosts ‘Aperitifs with Kumar’ also on Pulse.   

Describing his career journey in his own words, Kumar explained, “My journey has been unconventional in the traditional sense. Born to two trained teachers (in Mathematics and Science) I chose neither, but instead did English, French, German and Economics for my A/Ls. This was in 1977 and JR Jayewardene had swept into power. The economy had opened. Tourism was on an upward trajectory and there I was wanting to be a tour guide.”

“It was crazy learning French and German parallelly at the same time. I was learning the same things in two totally alien languages and mixing them all up. That was nightmarish too at times. In the one-year gap immediately after my A/Ls and before entering the Department of English at the University of Kelaniya, I joined the Daily News where I sharpened my writing skills. That experience was invaluable and has come in good stead even to this day.” 

Four years later, armed with an Honours Degree in English and French, he lectured briefly at the UOK, and then joined the Embassy of France as its de-facto Audio Visual Officer. This opened the world of television to him, primarily with ITN and ‘Bonsoir’. Then came ‘Fanclub’, news reading, anchoring talk shows, Dhamma discussions, live coverages etc. 

“‘Kumar de Silva Training’ is something I began six or seven years ago, and strangely that’s what I find most absorbing and what I’m terribly passionate about.”

“I always had a very inquiring mind and asked questions all the time. I had great ambition too, laced with a good dose of narcissism and that remains the same even to this day”, said Kumar, speaking of what made him different in order to bring him to his current standing. 

When questioned about the secret to maintaining such a versatile career, Kumar responded, “Career-wise I think I was lucky to get jobs that I was passionate about. They were not mundane and dreary chores. From lecturing to journalism, from PR to training, my heart was literally inside all of them and I think THAT made the difference. Even when I switched from one to the other, it was from one passion to the other. So, Karma has been good to me.”

On the topic of his main focal points in terms of Personality Development and Corporate Etiquette training, Kumar stated, “My main drive is empowering the individual from within. Participants at my sessions are (at different levels) educated, qualified and experienced. That’s one leg they stand on. As they go on in the corporate journey through life, they will be more educated (job-wise), more qualified and more experienced. 

The other leg they stand on is their Personal Branding. This is what I work on and what I call the ‘wrapping paper’. We are quick to judge others based on our perception of what we think they are. Hence, the importance of personal branding. What I do in terms of training is far too much to list out here. But you can check it all on my website – www.kumardesilva.com”

Voicing his opinion on the vitality of soft skills and their growing importance, “The vitality of soft skills keeps evolving all the time, as does their importance in this crazy, high-speed world we live in. Soft skills actually harmoniously complement our core and makes the package called the ‘corporate individual’ a very amenable and pleasing product, and hence, a marketable product too”, opined Kumar 

Elaborating on the makings of a skilled and influential writer, he said, “To me and in the books that I’ve written it is: The effective use of language as a paintbrush to create imagery on pages of the book, which to me constitute a canvas. Ideally concise, short and non-verbose sentences to keep the reader engaged. Long winding sentences are a total turn off to me. I also pay great importance to spellings and grammar.”

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