Leadership takes many forms. A leader can be described as being visionary, graceful, lenient, fearless, forceful or empathetic amongst many other things. In being in leadership at Hemas Consumer Brands’ journey towards excellence, Sabrina Esufally, the Director of Business Development and Innovation at Hemas Manufacturing (PVT) Ltd exhibits many characteristics of leadership and is a shining example of the maxim that “women are born to lead”.
Sabrina has always been a star performer beginning with her education. She is a graduate of the University of Durham, UK and has an LLM from the University of Harvard. She is also an Attorney-at-Law at the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. Moving on from her educational achievements she has moved steadily upward in the corporate world. Despite her being perceived as a high achiever, she also attributes these accomplishments to the assistance of others. She is grateful for having a strong support system that inspired her from the beginning, both on a personal and professional level.
“Having a professional and personal support network that always pushed me on merit and never let my gender determine what I could or could not do helped me advance in my career. This ensured that I focused a lot of my time and energy on improving my skills, learning new skills, and adding value.”
A true leader leads with confidence and grit, ensuring that the workflow around her remains well-managed. The way she sees it, learning is at the bedrock of leadership, constantly updating and widening her knowledge. Sabrina’s leadership style is somewhat unorthodox, in which she tackles challenges while always evolving personally, and all the while encouraging her team to grow alongside her and with her. “Be humble enough to know what you don’t know and don’t be scared to ask for help.”
Sabrina is never one to turn down an opportunity. Looking back at where the risk-taking has led her, she firmly believes that everyone should be daring enough to allow themselves to grab opportunities and build on them. In the progressive culture that Sabrina is now leading at Hemas Consumer Brands, her employees are constantly pushed towards exploring the horizons of their capabilities and pushing the boundaries of their own comfort zones. They are encouraged to experiment often and fail fast. This helps her build her vision of a company that is innovative enough to identify and respond to the needs of local consumers, sparking joy through its products and brands.
With her guidance, employees who complement each other are encouraged to work together. Sabrina believes that diversity is an essential component in generating fresh and interesting ideas that challenge the status quo and help a company and a society evolve. A commitment to creating a diverse and more inclusive world is something Sabrina is passionate about and she works hard to create a platform for inclusivity across the company’s brands. She believes this cause is also good for business. Women today want products and brands that empower them and make them feel respected. Women are rejecting the notion that they have to conform to a particular skin colour, or hair type or body type to be beautiful.
“I have seen more women come forward to support women in the workplace, and more spaces have emerged where women can network, be mentored, build a community and access funding. These are critical enablers for women to advance in their careers. We still have a long way to go before we enjoy the fruits of an equitable world. As women in the workforce, all of us have a responsibility to pave the way for more women to enter and succeed. This has a direct effect on a company’s performance and productivity.”
In Sabrinas eyes, we all have a role to play in creating a workforce where diversity can thrive, and where discrimination is not tolerated. This will happen if more women support and mentor their younger colleagues and more corporates enforce anti-discriminatory policies.