I am a learner; how about you?

Learning is what I know best. Its my greatest skill. And hopefully something that I will always love to do.

Here’s my motto:

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”~Eric Hoffer

When I was young, I never expected to be a teacher. I did not think it was something I’d be good at. But from around the time I was 21, while I was still at Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), I found out I was not that bad a teacher. I loved teaching my juniors and I also loved conducting training sessions. That was in the early 1990s.

From around 1998, I have been engaged in designing and conducting various types of training sessions. Most of them were conducted in Sinhala; with just a few in English. I conducted everything from short one-hour sessions to entrepreneurs to half-day sessions and full-day workshops. My training career really took off when I quit my corporate planning manager job to join my father in starting Sri Lanka’s first Sinhala business magazine, The Athwela Vyaparika Sangarawa (Athwela Business Journal). The primary method of promoting the magazine was conducting free training seminars around the country.

Initially I would only do a couple of hours training a day. Later I went on to doing full day workshops and my training career picked up.

Around 2000, I was working full time at Athwela and writing and editing in Sinhala. I was seriously concerned I might end up losing my ability to write in English. Around the same time I was invited to contribute a weekly column to the Daily News. My editor was Mr. Lynn Ockersz. I really enjoyed that series, titled ‘Starting a Home Based Business’.

A few years later I was invited by Feizal Samath to contribute a series of article on business topics to Sunday Times. We decided to go with a cool sounding name Business@Home. Although it was really meant for those aspiring to start their own business I discovered that it was read by a lot of others, including top bank CEOs that I was interviewing at the time for Athwela. That was quite a revelation.

Around 2000 I had started Ezine Athwela, the first ezine in Sri Lanka. It was a roaring success. My initial email list of 600 grew to be around 13,000 within a matter of months. Nearly everyone seemed to be reading it and forwarding it to others.

As a result of this experience, and its huge impact on marketing, I was asked by Roshni De Fonseka to contribute to both Divaina and Island papers, on the same theme, in Sinhala and English. The two columns were called “www.apa.semata.internet” and “www.internet.for.everyone”. I had such a great time writing those columns. I still enjoy reading some of them. My Sinhala articles have been published as two collections by Stamford Lake Publishers: Apa.Semata.Internet – A Handbook for the Internet Novice (I & II).

One of my most memorable assignments around this time was for Unilever’s Fair and Lovely Foundation. It was conducting a series of full day workshops for women who were dreaming of starting their own business. I touched on many personal development topics and setting personal goals for realizing life dreams in addition to the fine points of picking a business idea and starting a business. This project ran for about an year.

The next most interesting project was developing a training module for Shell LiveWire. Again it was on starting a small business.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the weekly workshops I was asked to conduct in the interior villages of the Kurunegala District. Funded by the Sri Lanka Australia Natural Resource Management Project, the workshops aimed at helping villagers find alternative revenue generation methods instead of solely depending on the surrounding forests to supplement their farming activities.

By this time I had also started conducting public seminars at JASTECA Management Institute. My first full day seminar was sold out and a second one was also scheduled. Many workshops conducted for supervisors were titled ‘Getting Things Done’ because that is what a supervisor does every day.

After I had conducted several such successful supervisory management workshops at JASTECA in Sinhala, I was invited to develop a multi-day workshop for managers and executives. The logic was to give some assessments to participants to think and work on so that they are better prepared to discuss and make decisions about their work issues and career decisions. Titled ‘The Effective Manager’, these management development sessions were conducted in English, with discussions in both Sinhala and English to facilitate participants.

Since that time I have also developed and delivered many specially tailored management, executive and supervisory development workshops for the business sector. I have also designed and delivered workshops for blue-collar and service sector workers in the private sector.

Regardless of the type of client, my specialty is in creating unique training modules from scratch. I have developed and delivered numerous such sessions on behalf of many clients, including my key client in the past seven years, HSBC Sri Lanka, Corporate Affairs Division.

For HSBC, as part of their CSR efforts, I’ve helped develop and deliver full day workshops on Micro entrepreneurship and developing a micro business and on managing personal finances. The micro entrepreneur workshops were conducted in temples and churches around the city of Colombo.

I’ve conducted dozens of full day workshops around the country to mostly factory workers over a period of three years beginning 2007. My client’s current emphasis is on conducting financial literacy workshops for workers in government and affiliated organizations.

Personal development topics are a key focus area for me. And I believe that, whether you are still at school, out of school seeking a job, climbing up the career ladder, in business for yourself or staying at home raising kids, personal development is the key to success.

Its true people define success in many ways. But whichever way you look at it, success requires having the right attitude, knowledge and the skills to make your dreams come true. And as a life long learner, I take special joy in sharing success skills with people of all ages, all walks of life and with varying perspectives about success and life.

If you want a trainer who pays attention to your particular needs, who does not merely come with a set of slides and deliver a speech, but really talks to the hearts of the participants, motivating them to dream, learn and grow, you have found the right trainer in me.

I look forward to hearing from you

Nilooka Dissanayake

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About Nilooka

I am a learner; and also a great trainer. I make learning fun for myself and for everyone else.
This entry was posted in Business Startups, Career Paths, Entrepreneurship, Making Life Dreams Come True, Management Training, Supervisory Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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