Attaining a wider perspective on every aspect in life was something Minoli Wickramasinghe, the Executive Director of Capital Trust Holdings Ltd, secured by growing up in not one, but three different countries – Nigeria, Hong Kong and Australia. Understanding the overall business tactics as well as the path Sri Lanka seemed to be headed towards back in the day assisted Minoli in paving her professional pathway.
Minoli’s background is one that possesses a strong hold on academics. Her mother and father, Anula Rajapakse and Sarath Rajapakse, played a vital role in her métier. As lecturers in Nigeria and Australia and stockbrokers in Hong Kong, they were able to pass on a great deal of knowledge and wisdom to their kids. It is through them that Minoli learnt how people work and was also able to witness the growth of one of largest financial hubs become what it is today.
“My parents helped bring out the entrepreneur in me. Especially my father as he started The Skills Lanka Ltd – a company that was into corporate training”, Minoli expressively voices. Despite being in the midst of her working on her undergraduate qualification, Minoli played a huge and consistent role at her father’s company. “I visited some of the largest companies
and analyzed their training needs with a lot of help from my dad. I learnt to tackle every aspect of the business as I helped him with Marketing, Finance and Operations”, she explains.
Due to the opportunity of such an exposure, Minoli was able to negotiate with banks for facilities while she was in her 20s. Although the huge increase in interest rates didn’t make
it the easiest of times when it came to negotiating, it aided her to tackle most of the on-going corporate issues. . “I liaised with industry leaders to formulate the training module for the largest companies, coordinated the training requirements and did Training Assessment Needs (TNA)”, she says, while going on to wholeheartedly thank her parents. “I think when you are plunged into hot water you learn more than any academic qualification can ever teach you and I thank my father and mother for that immensely.”
With her career taking of at an early age, Minoli was selected to work at the DFCC Bank. Her next chapter consisted of scoring a job placement out of the one thousand applicants at Maersk – the largest container liner in the world. “I was one of the very few employees that was initially employed in Sri Lanka at the Maersk Group in Finance”, she says. As the only Finance employee at Mercantile Logistics – formerly known as the Maersk Logistics arm – Minoli’s line of work consisted of keeping records, making reports and sending them at the given time to the global office. “I learnt many things including work efficiency, working with diverse employees and how to get the best out of each individual”
After marriage, Minoli took on the role of a Manager at Lanka Orix Securities.- a company related to stockbroking. While Minoli’s husband owned 70% of the share, the remaining 30% was of the company’s itself. Regardless, she joined middle management just like any employee would. Having grown up in Hong Kong surrounded by her parents who mostly ever talk about stockbroking, Minoli considers it to be something that runs in her veins. “From pagers, beepers, watching the stock market crash to hosting lavish stockbroker functions as one of the largest financial company, it was nothings but stocks. I admit my brother and I had the best of times and gained vast experience which many can never get”, she says while emphatically recalling the moments. And so. With a prime objective in mind, Minoli influenced her husband to try his hand on Online Trading, especially since it had been at full bloom during the period.
The company had gradually faced changes including a shift in the stakeholders that lead towards being renamed as Capital Trust Securities in 2011. Capital Trust Securities helped expand the stock market in Sri Lanka to become one of the best-performing markets in Asia. “Capital Trust Securities was ranked the No 1 in terms of Brokerage, Turnover and Number of Trades in the CSE website. We still hold the No Ranking to date”, Minoli states.
There had come a time when the stock market was performing poorly, thus leading Capital Trust Securities to diversify alongside a few employees. Elaborating further on previous statement, Minoli says, “I started Capital TRUST Properties, which is primarily involved in Property Brokering. I saw a huge potential in the Real Estate sector for Sri Lanka. We were the only organized real estate Broker in Sri Lanka, however in a short span, the company itself bought many properties in Colombo and the suburbs”. Capital Trust Residencies to Capital Trust Properties that is the largest Transaction arm and market leader that works with Grade A, B and C commercial landlords. Capital Trust Properties has grown from strength to strength working with three global Real Estate giants. The company will likely have a stronger tie-up with a global company making Capital Trust Properties (Pvt) Ltd a regional Real Player. Being ranked as the No.1 Stockbroker in Financial services, the organization has also been awarded as the winning Real Estate Developer.
The property sector further expanded into more areas thus bringing to life their new company, Capital Trust Residencies, the now award winning developer of luxury apartments which build Asia Pacific Award winning apartment complexes, which were boutique complexes equipment with the top brands with infinity pool and gym. Unfolding more about the company, Minoli talks about the company being partners to three global real estate companies in Sri Lanka. “We fulfill A-Z requirements of the clients from offering alternating to analyzing and carrying the due diligence on them, surveying, legal paperwork, and assisting in fit outs all done internally through our team off experts”, Minoli shares proudly. “We have competed with the likes of Global competitors here due to our extreme professionalism, hard work from our entire team to value and ethics in the execution of all transactions”.
As the developer of luxury apartments, Capital Trust Properties (Pvt) Ltd provides an array of services such as Property Brokering Services, Property Investment Services, Property Development Services and Property Management Services. They have also won several international awards for its unique competitive edge of developing some of the best boutique developments in Colombo, all of which we have completed despite very difficult times for the construction industry. “I have to give credit to the hands-on approach of my husband Tushan in that anything he takes on, he becomes an expert at”. Holding their vision, mission and values close to heart, Minoli and her husband are keen on expanding this particular division overseas – in Dubai – soon.
Capital Trust Holdings and its subsidiaries hold in its value professionalism and ethics. Alongside possessing core beliefs in lean process, employer efficiency and being abreast of technological developments, Minoli also ensures to perform to the highest of standards in order to uphold such values and beliefs so as to set examples for her employees to follow suit. “With me heading the Properties we clearly differentiate from the rest of the companies in Sri Lanka in terms of these”.
Having emphasized that Sri Lanka lacks consistent economic policies till this very day, Minoli finds it as a classic example as to why many businesses face failure. “I feel with all time high interest rates it will kill entrepreneurship and shrink economic activity. Our labor laws
are also not focused on efficiency making it difficult for companies to be globally competitive”, she says. “If we are to survive, we have to be focused outward and export our products or services to other countries as our disposable income shrinks”. Thus, keeping that in mind, Capital Trust Residencies is in search for such opportunities and global tie-ups in order to become bigger and better despite any odds.
Parting with a few words of advice to all upcoming entrepreneurs, Minoli says, “If you have a passion, you need to pursue your dreams. Hard work, dedication and planning will help you achieve success. But you should not compromise ethics and professionalism in achieving your goals”.