Enjoying my choices and benefiting from my decisions; my stint as a JKHMT!

By Gopalan Lashanthan

The million-dollar question running through my mind as I write this blog, is “how in the world am I going to cover a 15-month journey as a JKHMT, in just a couple of pages?” But hey, that’s what management trainees do, take up challenges and deliver, irrespective of what comes their way! (expecting a standing ovation from past and present JKHMTs as they read that last line!).

Before I share highlights of my journey so far with JKH, let me re rewind to when I was employed in a leading apparel firm, under a “special condition!”.

My condition when I joined them, was simple – I will remain with the firm for the foreseeable future, unless I am selected to the John Keells Group Management Trainee Programme of 2016.My boss at the apparel firm an amazing gentleman, accepted this condition and remained true to his word, when I was selected, released me within just a couple of weeks with the following words …

“the next 15 months would be unforgettable for you!”

It truly has been, In many ways!

During my stint as a JKHMT, I have played golf (a game that makes me change the channel every time it appears on TV), conducted surveys at supermarkets, got a chance to try archery as a reward for handling a particularly difficult hotel guest well and making his stay a pleasant one and even got a chance to witness the fastest auction of the country with a company that marks 150 years of Ceylon Tea!

But what I consider to be unique being a management trainee of Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate is not just opportunities like the above, but something more intangible and yet more valuable; I call it the ‘Balance’, something that I have only experienced only in this special organisation.

Balance is not better time management, but better management of boundaries. Balance for me is the ability to make my own choice and enjoy it whole heartedly! ?

Most rejoice in the ability to make their own choices, as do I. These choices may not be life changing, but simple ones such as the Group’s flexi-hours and tele-working policy allowing me to avoid the evening traffic by starting work as early as 7:30 AM or get some extra sleep in the morning and start work as late as 9.00 AM. It could also be an opportunity to build your own business idea with the guidance of industry experts within John Keells Group or spend some time to support another friend on his ideas, with John Keells X Open Innovation Challenge, being open to staff as well.

The small choices and decisions we make, some almost subconsciously, a hundred times a day adds up to determine the kind of world we live in. In the case of JKH this is no different; the Group is built and maintained on it’s strong foundation of 5 Values – Trust, Integrity, Innovation, Caring and Excellence and driven by a culture that embraces the diversity of its employees. The John Keells Group Year-end get together (fondly known within the Group as “JYG”) is a fine example of our values and culture where everyone supports and believes in each other; all employees across the Group’s 7 industry sectors are hosted, along with their families to an evening of fun and fellowship. While the event is spearheaded by Group HR, it is organized and managed by a team of staff volunteers from across all Group businesses and the JKHMTs are usually in charge of managing The Snow City and I’m not sure who had more fun, the kids or the MTs! it’s not a public event to extend the invitation on a public blog ? Another example is I feel wish showcases this ‘balance’, from a different angle, it also when working with John Keells Foundation as staff volunteers, where you may get an opportunity to travel to remote locations to our adopted villages, to meet families affected by war and poverty and help them rebuild their lives and develop sustainable livelihood.

Whatever path you choose to follow at JKH, the message is clear; it is about empowering people, caring for each other, leading by example. This is exactly why JKH is where I found my sense of belonging and I choose to continue my professional career. It’s not just a great place to work but an amazing place to build your life.