The way I run my business is largely a result of the way I see the world. That comes from my family and my upbringing.
I’ve never really stopped to think about whether or not I run an ethical business. Acting in the best interest of my clients and conducting my business with integrity is just the way I operate. It’s also the way I hope those that I work with operate too. Helping others is a cultural tradition where I come from. You help those in need, you help elders and you help the community.
Many people who run a successful business believe that helping others often comes at the expense of profits. But the two are intrinsically aligned. The key word that keeps coming up for me is ‘community’.
I come from a migrant family with a strong sense of community. This has followed through to the way I’ve managed my business for the last three decades.
I come form Sri Lanka, a country that has incredible levels of poverty compared to Australia. While Australia is now my home and has been for most of my life, I was born a Sri Lankan and that connection informs my view of the world.
Being a migrant has also impacted the way I run my business. For one thing, I know how lucky I am to be living in a country like Australia and to be able to run a successful business. I never take that for granted.
When my family first migrated to Australia many years ago we had no idea of what it would be like when we got here. But we had fears about what we were leaving behind. Particularly my mother. Like many migrant families, food is a major part of our culture. When we came to Australia my mother feared we would never eat a traditional Sri Lankan dish ever again. So she packed a chicken curry with her, declared it at customers, and brought it to Sydney thinking it would be the last chicken curry we ever ate!
A lot has changed since then and I’m pleased to say that our family in Australia has enjoyed many chicken curries. What has stayed with me is a sense of gratitude for what I have and a desire to leave the world in a better place.
I discovered some time ago that I need a greater purpose to keep working. Some people are purely driven by profit, but they would definitely be in the minority. There is only so long you can pursue that dream. Material gratification is short-lived. Those who chase it will find that out sooner or later.
But to watch a community grow around you, to be part of building it and to witness lives changed for the better because of a simple action or kindness – these are the lasting successes.
There are three things that have always stuck out in my mind as the essential building blocks to a good life: health, spirituality and education.
Interestingly, my three sons have all chosen to pursue careers in each of these respective areas!
My business has a purpose that goes way beyond profit. It’s about having a positive impact by considering the environmental risks, social impact and governance of what we invest in and who we work with.
Above all, it’s about carrying traditional family values into my business and finding likeminded people and institutions that share our vision.