Monday, August 8, 2016

Pep Talk to a recent graduate from the State University System - actual letter just sent!

                                                                             Kumbuk Pokuna
                                                                             Ratmale
                                                                             Minneriya
8th August 2016

Dear XXXXXXXXXX

Let me first congratulate you on obtaining your Management Degree from Japura University, which you collected last week. I sincerely trust that you were able to have your parents from your home in Mahavillachchiya, with you to attend your degree awarding ceremony, so they would see that their sacrifice has begun to show results. Whatever other people think of Farmers, I put them at the highest position in society and I live here in a farming community, and have seen some from here who have gone and obtained their degrees at various Universities in Sri Lanka.

You now have a long and winding road ahead and it is called LIFE, and I can only wish that you achieve the goals that you have set yourself.

I am not going to write in detail about myself, except to attach my current Resume, just so that you have a point of reference of someone else’s career path, full of bounces, twists and turns, to get an idea that nothing is as smooth as one hopes!

The world has changed so much in this 40 year difference between your beginning and my ending, and the decisions I would take today, would be vastly different to those I took back then. The choices were limited then, and it was done with those opportunities available. Today, technology and choice have greatly expanded, and to choose from this mass of possibilities, what the correct choice for you will be is your challenge.

Fluency in English will further expand the HORIZON globally for you to go for employment overseas. Just quoting an example of Vietnam: a country that 30 years ago was far behind Sri Lanka, has now overtaken Sri Lanka by miles, that now their exports are more than 150% of their GDP where Sri Lanka’s has fallen to just 15% of GDP. In short Sri Lanka is a failed state, due to the poor management of our economy by those who we have elected to RULE over us in the past 70 years, and the sooner we stop venerating them, the sooner we can emerge from this carnage.

Even more ironic is that many Sri Lankans have gone to Vietnam to manage Garment Industries, using their experience here, as well as run Tea Estates, a new Agro Industry they developed, which makes their cost of production of tea, 25 % of ours. Further, many Sri Lankan Companies are setting up operations in Vietnam to take advantage of their opportunities and someone like you could work their temporarily to make your fortune there.

It is under this background that you have now embarked on your professional journey. I will advise you to get as much varied experience as you can, as it will help you in making choices in what it is you would like to do in the future.

As you may know over 30% of Sri Lankan qualified chartered accountants live and work overseas as that qualification is in demand. You are intelligent, so you will be able to grasp the concepts, and systems, as well as the new technology in this fast paced world to excel in your chosen profession.

Don’t forget that luck also plays a part in life, in being at the right place at the right time. So do not get disheartened when sometimes, you don’t get what you want, even though you deserve it. “Better luck next time” is the way to accept it.

We can never achieve everything we set out to do, and along the way you can change your direction, but always have a goal, preferably, a short term, medium term and a long term one so you can focus on a target you want to achieve.

I will mist likely work for the next 5 years in areas of interest to me, and retire here to Ratmale, (I still don’t have electricity in my home here) to write a book or two based on my life experiences. If possible, I will also like to organize seminars and courses on empowerment of Youth, as I believe much of their problems arise out of a lack of understanding of capability and opportunity.

What I mean is, that due to the poor quality of our Education in Sri Lanka, students at age 16, when they should be making serious decisions on what they should pursue, have NO concept of life, vision, what they have an aptitude for or interest in. If they do, they don’t know how to leverage that into a career.

If I can help this age group in understanding the opportunities available, and how they can go about grabbing them, then I can feel I have returned something to society, from the experiences, I have been fortunate to gain. At least a few in Sri Lanka can benefit from another’s path. There are over 250,000 job vacancies in Sri Lanka today, without capable people to fill them, when so many are looking for work in fields that have no vacancies. This is partly due to the laid back lifestyle of many who are risk averse, and have no concept of goals and what is needed to achieve them.

To quote from a recent example, I arranged for 6 youth from this area, to take jobs in a production factory in Biyagama as Machine Operators. They could earn around Rs40,000 a month with overtime, and I had arranged accommodation, and showed them, how after paying for food, accommodation, clothing and mobile phone costs, they could easily save Rs25,000 a month, as long as they did not indulge in alcohol or smoking! On the morning when they were supposed to take the Bus to Colombo, they did not go! Why? Because all wanted to go fishing in the local lake instead!

If that is their real choice, then that is fine. However no one owes them a living. They should NOT expect someone else, be it the Govt. to provide them with employment as a right in their own area. It is better at the age 16 to show them the way, and if they want to be fishermen in the local lake then it is their choice, or if they want to be machine operators in the City, that is fine too. Empower them either way is the motto!

We are fortunate to live in the most beautiful Country on Earth. However we who live here are destroying it. There will be nothing left for the future if we continue at this pace of destruction. I believe the most important thing for survival is the availability of “Pure Water” “Poison Free Food” and “Clean Air”, nothing else matters. We have forgotten the basics, as being the ultimate “HUMAN RIGHT” along with the prevention of the destruction of the Environment. It is simply the basis of these few building blocks that we should build our “New Constitution”, nothing else matters as they will all fall into place like a jigsaw if the aforesaid are enshrined as rights.

Sadly, no politician, in or out of power, understands this simple desire, as they are only interested in self-preservation and enhancement, and these basics, lead to their irrelevance.

Our future can ONLY be secured by people ruling us who have a genuine love for the Country, and put Country First before even themselves. Only then will Sri Lanka survive to the next century. 2500 years of history, will NOT mean anything if we are unable to survive till 2100.

We are the past, you are the future. The future is in the hands of your generation to take up the challenge.

Best Regards and once again Congratulations in beating the odds and succeeding.


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