17.11.2015 in Interviews, Latest by copaceticweb 0

Suresh Mendis: the epitome of a Motivational Leader

CEO - Suresh MendisSuresh Mendis joined Expolanka’s Classic Travel in 2002, on an invitation from his friend, the Director and Group CEO of Expolanka, Hanif Yusoof. As the Director/CEO of Classic Travel, he was vested with the task of rebuilding a small travel company and over time he has proven his success by making Classic Travel, the most preferred Travel Company in the Industry. However his professional life began in another industry. His humble beginnings can be traced back to the tender age of 15. He recalls

” I started my career by entering the Accounting field in a reputed Pharmaceutical company and I thought, at that time, that Accounting would be the right fit for me. However, after a couple of years, I realized that a ‘desk Job’ was not meant for me”.

This need to find greener pastures led him to join a travel company in 1977 as a Trainee and to this day he has worked for more than 6 companies and possess over 38 years of experience and has been exposed to all areas in the travel industry from general operations of a Travel Agency to Airline Operations. At present, he acts as the Immediate Past President of the Travel Agents Association of Sri Lanka (TAASL).

Motivation is Key

The most prominent characteristic of Suresh Mendis is his ability to motivate individuals.

One factor that motivates me is my people and I try to project this motivation back to them through speech”. He believes that positive motivation can lead to satisfied employees.

One statement which has always stuck with me is,

people don’t leave organizations, they leave Managers and this is why all my efforts revolve around improving the working environment of my employees. The highlight of my career was when Classic Travel secured a place amongst the 15 best companies to work in Sri Lanka in 2014. This was a wonderful achievement as we were the first company in the Sri Lankan travel trade to win the award”.

Another factor that motivates Suresh is his passion for work.

If I were to sum up the factors of my success, they would have to be honesty, perseverance and passion. Out of all these, passion matters most. If you truly love what you’re doing, you don’t mind coming to work every day and giving your 100%.

Lead, don’t manage

Managing an organization and leading one are two totally different tasks. Suresh believes that in order for an organization to be successful, it needs leaders and not mere managers. What differentiates a leader from a manager, in his opinion, is the ability to provide proper guidance when assigning a task to the right person.

A leader has the ability to motivate employees to perform any task exceptionally well and furthermore leaders should be able to properly recognize employees for their talent and capabilities.” It is important, as a leader, to treat your employees fairly and equally. A transparent, impartial environment would keep your employees, loyal and content and encourage them to strive to do more”.

To lead is to motivate subordinates and for this proper delegation of authority and responsibility is key. This is why the delegates work when entering into a new business venture, as it acts as a motivator to complete the tasks at hand.
He further states that if someone plans to enter into a leadership position for the first time, they should “understand what the job really is. A leader should carry out his role in the proper manner and make it a point to treat employees fairly. Suresh believes that the way in which you understand the intricacies of leadership and the way you implement those elements will determine the quality of your leadership and separate true leaders from the rest.

Guided by Core-Values

Core- values are intrinsic beliefs that act as the foundations of one’s actions. Consistently providing value added travel services, satisfying stakeholders, continuous innovation and assuring harmony between all employees are Suresh’s core-values. These core-values have been incorporated into Classic Travel’s vision and mission statements.

It is important for everyone in the service industry to know they have to ‘Marry their customers’. I believe that a customer who is dissatisfied can cause immense damage to the company. This is why I advise my staff to provide an exceptional customer service at all times. If by chance a customer experiences even a sliver of dissatisfaction, then I make it a point to resolve the issue within 24 hours.

To innovate in the service industry, is to have a competitive advantage over your competitors as our services are intangible. For this, an organization needs to identify the future requirements of the customers and address them instantly. A proper utilization of this activity of need recognition by Classic Travel can be seen through the opening of their office 24 hours a day, every day of the year, thereby catering to the dynamic lifestyles of their customers.

We provide all travel services under one roof and this is why we have introduced services such as, an in-house photo studio, foreign exchange services, airport transfers in Colombo, online check-in and many more unique features that would reduce our customers burden, so that they can truly concentrate on enjoying their flight.

Innately Socially Responsible

Suresh believes that social responsibility and business operations have a direct link with each other. The way you treat the environment reflects the way that you treat your employees.

My religion and my family have always influenced me to involve myself in community service and I’m currently operating (with a board of management) a transit home of 188 beds situated next to the National Cancer Hospital, for outpatients who have to visit the hospital on a regular basis”.

Further, Suresh is the driving force behind Classic Travel’s commitment for improvement of the society. Classic Travel gets involved in many CSR events such as, ‘International Coastal Clean-up 2015” ‘green project’ in Sri Sudarshanarama Junior school Batapoththa and many more projects that create a positive impact on the society and the environment as a whole.

With his 38 years of experience in the travel industry, Suresh hopes to improve Classic Travel and explore new business areas which would foster the growth of the Company to maintain its current position as the market leader in the Sri Lankan Travel Industry.

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