We’ve all heard the phrase “walk the talk”. It basically means that one shouldn’t just be about words, but actions as well. This applies to leaders and the general public alike. But what about when people have already done it? What about the people who’ve made it? That’s what Anura De Alwis’s Talk The Walks is exactly about. A monthly meetup with industry leaders in Sri Lanka that focuses on specific areas for MBA prospects and next-generation leaders.
But why “Talk The Walks”?
Everybody likes a good success story, particularly when that success story involves modern day business leaders. From the Bill Gates’ and the Steve Jobs’ to the Elon Musks, most of us find inspiration through these iconic figures. You would see many striving to be like these leaders. According to Anura, even in Sri Lanka many of the MBA prospects and future leaders, whom he believes to be the second tier of the leadership in Sri Lanka, follow these icons keenly.
But is this really the way to go about things? Anura believes that rather than following these leaders it would make more sense to take local examples. Simply put, how does the success of Microsoft or Alibaba in those economies really apply to a country like Sri Lanka? To Anura, there’s a clear knowledge gap here, especially among the young MBA prospects. This is where Talk The Walks come in.
The idea kicked off as a forum that brought together CxOs from the industry. This forum would pick a relevant topic for the MBA prospects and entrepreneurs alike and put it into a discussion.
What has been happening so far
Every month, 2 leaders would join in a 25-attendee coffee forum to share the knowledge around a certain theme. Usually, the 2 speakers at each event would tend to offer a bit of a contrast in terms of what they have to offer. Anura mentions this to be intentional. Why? Because contrasting opinions on different aspects around a theme would provide a better dialogue and debate. The end result would be a better learning experience for the audience.
With regards to the topics itself, the focus falls on a few areas. One of these is what one would call traditional management subjects. This is where topics such as culture and diversity come in. Another aspect includes contemporary topics. These topics, while may not necessarily standard, would often be helpful for new businesses.
For the most part, its been mostly positive. The forum offered the opportunity to engage better with industry leaders for the attendees. Anura notes that the only improvements suggested so far, were the cosmetics of how the event is conducted. These were simply minor details on the organizing of the program rather than its content delivery.
Even from the industry, there has been positive feedback. In fact, there are already a few requests from corporates and school authorities alike, to have their own versions of Talk The Walks. But as of now with time constraints, Anura notes that there aren’t any immediate plans on that front.
But this is only the beginning
Speaking to ReadMe, Anura noted that the forum is actually one of three phases that’s in the works. Phase One would see Talk The Walks forum take place on a monthly basis. This would go on for at least 12 shows. Following up, Anura hopes to kick off a corporate and a school version of the program if things go to plan.
Phase Two would see this program join hands with 4 universities. Here, MBA students would be required to write a Harvard type business case study on the leaders brought to the forum, as a case study.
Phase Three involves a fund. This funding would essentially enable budding leaders and entrepreneurs to follow a relevant course of study, free of charge. The aim is to build successful leaders in the future through relevant education. Anura hopes to kick this off by the 2nd quarter in 2019.
“This is something I love because education is something everyone needs” – Anura de Alwis
There’s also plans of an annual magazine as well. This is where all the speakers would be featured.
What the future holds
Coaching and helping the future leaders is one area Anura is keen on at the moment. The knowledge and experience gathered over the years, Anura believes that his time would be best spent contributing towards building the economies through initiatives like theTalk The Walks. From a personal standpoint, Anura is looking to help the community both as a professional and as someone who’s part of the community itself. “I’m open to opportunities”, comments Anura.
From a broader perspective, Anura believes that Sri Lanka would need to function with a “center of excellence mindset” to thrive. Taking the next step as a country would require an emphasis on Research and Development into products.