Many business leaders pay lip service to the idea of transformation. For Dinuk Hettiarachchi, it's at the heart of his success.
In his teens, Dinuk's dream was to become an aeronautical engineer. After some investigation, he wisely realised employment opportunities were thin on the ground in that particular profession, especially in Sri Lanka.
However, his analytical mind and interest in technology never left him. Instead of taking flight in the world of aeronautics, he applied his sharp thinking to the profession of accountancy, following in the footsteps of his esteemed father, the founder of accountancy firm Nihal Hettiarachchi & Company (NH & Co).
The past decade has been a whirlwind of growth and activity for Dinuk. He is the Managing Partner of NH & Co and the Chairman of 3DH International Group.
Furthermore, he sits on the board of Skills Development Fund, Sri Lanka, Country representative of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement Chamber of Commerce & Industry and is a Past Chairman of the Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs.
He credits much of his entrepreneurial success to the values of integrity, honesty, and hard work instilled in him by his father and his mother's constant guidance and support. His innate curiosity and interest in solving problems have also played a significant part in his achievements.
"I don't think I ever lost that desire to assess and analyse how things work," he says. "It continues to influence the way I work."
Starting with NH & Co in 2005, currently the largest local accounting and auditing firm in Sri Lanka, he embarked on a mission to modernise the firm.
"I think it's crucial to invest and focus on new technology," he says. "We have limited resources monetarily, so implementing the right technology can be challenging. You have to think about making the technology work for you and your clients."
He recognised he had come into a firm with an established culture and way of doing things. With the internet and digital revolution gathering pace, he knew transformation was crucial, but he also wanted buy-in from his colleagues and clients. Getting everybody on the same page required him to demonstrate astute leadership skills.
"There is always that element of a generation gap in workplaces, including professional firms. We must always respect the knowledge and experience of the older generation. However, the realities of business are that if you stay still, you get left behind."
In recent times, he has navigated the challenge of the COVID19 pandemic. One of the side effects of COVID19, he says, is that it has accelerated the adoption and implementation of technology in the workplace.
"In a sense, COVID has pushed that along. The pandemic forced us out of our offices, but we still need to work. Luckily, we had the technology, and now it has been implemented, and we are successfully able to work from home when required."
"As a result, we are 90% paperless. We are one of the only local audit firms in Sri Lanka using technology to this extent. We are not sending any hard copy audits. We send digitally signed and verified documents to our clients."
He says completing the CPA Program in 2009 helped him look at leadership in new ways. In 2019, he took the next step and became a fellow of CPA.
More than just letters at the end of his name, he says the CPA designation has opened his eyes to the bigger picture in business.
It has given him fresh ideas and perspectives on topics like digital transformation and strategy. He says finance professionals should always look to further their technical knowledge and business acumen.
"Of course, you should know your theory, and your knowledge base has to be there, but leadership, strategy, decision-making, all of these things can help you climb the career ladder. At a certain point, you need to learn how to motivate your team and get the best from each other."
Global business opportunities
With moves afoot to improve the attractiveness of Sri Lanka as a key FDI destination in the region, Dinuk says finance professionals must think about how they interact and communicate with clients from around the world.
"I work with many foreign clients. So it's essential to understand the different ways people work and do business. Part of my continual professional development has been to understand global perspectives.
"How a Japanese firm approaches business would be different from a German one, and the same with Singapore, etc., they all have their separate ways. The material and resources from the CPA have helped me gain a better understanding of the technical and cultural aspects of international business."
Whether it is the transformational challenges of dealing with a pandemic, implementing the latest technology, or navigating global business opportunities, DinukHettiarachchi is confident in his ability to chart a path forward to success.
How CPA Australia can help you advance your career
Global portability and quality continuing professional development (CPD) are becoming increasingly important for professional accountants worldwide. Today, CPA Australia works with over 30 international Recognised Employer Partners to provide members with access to learning and development opportunities through the CPA Program.
CPA Australia has entered pathway agreements with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka and the Institute of Certified Management Accountants of Sri Lanka to create opportunities for local accountancy professionals to access CPA Australia's programs and services.
CPA Australia provides members with an internationally recognised qualification. It offers various learning resources in multiple channels to enhance knowledge and skills for members for their CPD as finance and accounting professionals.
Whether it's advancing your career or starting up a new business, becoming a CPA Australia member is your calling card to opportunity, helping you expand your horizons, reach new heights in business, and make a difference in the world.
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