Consistent Ambition and Continuous Re-invention

Dilrukshi Kurukulasuriya – Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) of Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC

Despite an interest in Science, and the expectations of her family and teachers, young Dilrukshi Kurukulasuriya marched to the sound of her own drum and pursued a career in Law. “As a young girl I was obsessed with Science and I was an enthusiastic student and the Head Girl at Hillwood College – Kandy, hence all my teachers and family expected me to become a medical practitioner, but in the back of my mind my hidden agenda was to become a lawyer,” she said. 

Dilrukshi began her career as a junior counsel and soon discovered that she was better suited in the corporate sector than in Hulftsdorp.  She joined the corporate sector as a Legal Officer, but was not easily satisfied and soon began looking out for further opportunities. “I took on a job as a Manager for Human Resources and Legal. This is where I found my calling. I realised my passion for Human Resources Development and pursued my career in this line. My ambition to be in a leadership position led me to work my way up to becoming the General Manager – Human Resources at Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC a mere 8 years after beginning my career.” Today, Dilrukshi serves as the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) of Diesel & Motor Engineering PLC. 

Speaking of the 3 major skills that have helped her reach her current position, Dilrukshi said, Leadership skills are very rare among those who hold such positions.  I’ve very often seen them using only their power to solve problems and failing miserably, because they do not have what it takes to exercise their power. I’ve observed very successful leaders as well as incapable  people holding powerful positions and using merely their authority without good judgement to solve problems. Thus, I’ve observed and  learnt from both kinds of leaders and today, I’ve learnt  to quickly process large amounts of information in my mind and see the total picture, which helps in making quick decisions. Being analytical helps me make a good situational decision based on a minimum amount of information if required. I am also good with people and coaching them to achieve their full potential. So, analytical skills, decision making and coaching are 3 skills that I’ve acquired over the years, and have helped me become the professional I am today.”

“A great HR professional is always bottom line focused hence, business savvy, numerically and legally sound, very diplomatic and high in integrity,in addition to the high technical HR knowledge they possess” stated Dilrukshi, expressing her opinion on the makings of a great HR professional. 

On the topic of the role of HR in promoting gender diversity in the office and the benefits of gender diversity in the workplace, Dilrukshi explained, “HR is primarily responsible for the quality of the workforce of an organization. It’s proven that a diverse workforce is much more effective and productive than a workforce of the same gender. With such a proven  business case, it is imperative for us to eliminate the unconscious biases of people that can affect workplace decisions. It is the HR department’s primary responsibility to create a culture where men and women, respect and trust each other and accept the value that each brings to the table.  As much as gender diversity brings in different perspectives to decision-making, it will also help to serve a diverse customer base, and attract and retain talented women, and thus aid in boosting the development and competitiveness of the organization.” 

“Transparent communication is essential in building trust between people and the organization. Once trust is built, the alignment of both parties is paramount for mutual benefit. As such, a culture built on transparent communication, trust and alignment will benefit any employer and employee”, replied the CHRO, when questioned about the characteristics of an ideal workplace in which both the employer and employee can thrive.

Describing how the HR profession has developed over the years, Dilrukshi explained, “Technology, workforce behaviour and economy has forced HR to change dramatically from an administrator to a strategic contributor and finally to a lead strategist today. With the COVID – 19 situation we faced more complicated situations, HR professionals had to invent instant solutions for employee issues as well as for business continuity. This balancing act was quite demanding and challenging, and it is something we never dreamt of, which has changed the definition of workplace, worker, remuneration, benefits and many other things. I believe we must evolve to a totally different stage where HR practices will have to be re- invented. As an industry HR has a very high potential in Sri Lanka and we have very smart HR professionals who are innovative and capable of facing any situation.”