Tishan Subasinghe; the Chairman of Sanasa General Insurance Company Ltd, proudly hails from a delicate village called Narammala. In his early years of education, he gained avid knowledge at St. Anthony’s College in the rich kingdom of Kandy, he later relocated to Kurunegala and continued his studies at Maliyadeva College. His father, a lucrative entrepreneur, passed away when he was 19 years old, leaving the reins to Tishan, who took the daring step of handing over the business to his mother and relocated to the vibrant metropolis of Colombo to complete his higher education.
Tishan began reading for the Chartered Accountants examinations after relocating to Colombo. He initially accomplished the required training for Chartered Accountants at BDO Burah Hathy and continued as a manager at BDO for another year and a half following the completion of his internship – earning him the Associate Membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Tishan had a desire to gain international exposure during this period, so he joined PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in the Southern African Region, where he was assigned to Botswana. After completing his contract there, his outstanding performance catapulted him to the PWC International Head Office in New York, Manhattan. He stayed there for about a year before taking up assignments in Chicago and Philadelphia.
Despite the potential to continue thriving at his job in the United States, he opted to return to his motherland in 2007 after extensive deliberation with his family. Talking to Tishan, it was clear that he is still quite content with the decision he made. He makes an effort to contribute sustainably in any way he can as a citizen of the country, as he firmly believes it is necessary to give back to your motherland. Upon his return to Sri Lanka, he was once again offered to join BDO Partners as an equity partner. BDO partners is where Tishan had completed his articleship and received his basic training. Tishan earned his MBA in Finance at the University of Colombo and obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Law from Buckinghamshire New University in England during his ten years as a partner. He is also certified in CISA, a US-based examination he began studying for during his time in the United States. Tishan completed his CISA certification when he returned to Sri Lanka.
Tishan specialized in financial service audits and advising at BDO Partners as a Chartered Accountant. He distinctly recalls the day he was asked to give a presentation to the Board of Directors of Sanasa Development Bank (SDB) when Dr. Kiriwandeniya was the Chairman. The presentation focused on corporate governance for the Board of Directors, guided by Central Bank laws. This was Tishan’s first interaction with Dr. Kiriwandeniya, and he was exposed to the entire SDB network, “I was amazed by the cooperative concept”, he stated. In his view, since the free-market economy began in 1977, one segment of the market has been left out of the concept of capitalism. “The richer became richer, and the poor became poorer”, he believes that a cooperative movement may do a lot to help this underserved part of society, as long as proper governance is in place.
When Tishan was asked to join the Bank’s Board of Directors he was entangled with BDO bank audits as the head of audit and assurance of the firm and felt it wasn’t acceptable for him to join the board as there would be a conflict of interest. Alternatively, Tishan was offered a position on the Board of Sanasa Insurance Company Ltd. It was not demerged at the time as both life and general insurance were anchored in the same organization. Tishan may be one of the youngest chairpersons of a regulated corporation, and joining a board at such an early age, he shared with us that he gained a lot of exposure that has contributed to his growth as a professional and as an individual. He went on to say, “I was molded to become a good director as I was mentored and given guidance by Dr.Kiriwandeniya and the Senior Board Members.” Tishan progressed as a capable Director, eventually becoming the Chairman of the Risk Management Committee and heading the audit committee.
Dr. Kiriwandeniya sought to plant professionals as board members in the companies offering them leadership roles to prepare them for when he resigns from the Company. He also believed it was necessary to commit the company’s management to specialists who represented society. This vision he had established proved to be successful given that Tishan’s performance as a director was outstanding. This led to Tishan receiving the honor of taking over as Chairman. He values the trust that Dr. Kiriwandeniya has placed in him. Tishan is the managing director of Moore Consulting (Pvt) Ltd and the Joint Managing Partner at Moore Aiyar, a firm of Chartered Accountants. He is also a director and the audit committee chairman of Amana Bank PLC. Tishan is an elected council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka, as well as a council member of the University of Moratuwa. In addition to his illustrious work at Sanasa General Insurance, he also occupies numerous responsibilities; His excellency the President recently appointed him to the Presidential Commission on the Simplification of Rules and Regulations.
When asked how the organization stayed on track with operations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he said they were able to alter their strategy as the year progressed through 2021. As an insurance company that also concentrates on motor insurance, he believes that if limits on importing automobiles remain in place, they may have to exit the market at some point, as many businesses have been harmed. To survive and grow in the market, they adapted their strategy to focus more on agricultural products. Agricultural insurance protects crops and livestock from loss or damage – It has a lot of potentials to benefit low-income farmers and their communities, both in terms of insulating them against shocks and motivating them to spend more on crops. Agriculture requires methods to mitigate losses caused by uncontrollable risks. Widespread crop failures not only have an immediate impact on farmers’ incomes but also reduce demand for items produced in other industries. As a result, crop insurance plays an essential role in not just reducing the risk that farmers confront, but also in stabilizing the economy.
As with any firm, Tishan believes that Sanasa General Insurance’s prominent strength right now is its sociable network and intangible assets. Fixating on their objective, they want to yield outstanding service to their clients to better their lives and society as a whole by developing a risk management platform. Sanasa General Insurance aims to become the most powerful General Insurance Company in Sri Lanka, with a distinguished client base, while continuing to regard its clients as partners in success. Finally, Tishan emphasizes the importance of resilience and focus in gaining a competitive advantage during this difficult time.