The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE), in collaboration with Sampath Bank, held its sixth annual leadership forum in October 2019, hosting an array of entrepreneurs, a guest speaker and three panellists, including Durdans Hospitals’ Chairman, Ajith E Tudawe. During the forum, Ajith Tudawe took the opportunity to stress the importance of strategic leadership in building successful and long-lasting corporations and used his 25+ years of experience as the Chairman of one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic healthcare brands to elaborate.
As Chairman of Ceylon Hospitals PLC (the Durdans Healthcare Group) and Senior Director of Tudawe Holdings Ltd., Chairman Ajith has embarked on strategic management with belief and passion. As related by him, companies always run the risk of disappearance due to ever-increasing competitive pressures and changing conomic landscapes. Strategic management considers all aspects of a business’s operations to devise well-defined long-term objectives that allow not just perseverance but also growth and continuous innovation.
To illustrate his point, the Chairman highlighted the dramatic failure of companies listed on the Fortune 500 list in the year 2000 to survive in the long-term. Within just 19 years, 52% of these companies had either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or simply ceased to exist as economic entities. The common strand connecting their disappearance was their failure to adapt to digital disruptions and competitive pressures. Chairman Ajith stressed the fact that strategic management can help entrepreneurs avoid this fate and design businesses that are sustainable and unyielding.
Since beginning his stewardship at Durdans as a young chairman in the early 1990s, he worked to integrate strategic management into the DNA of the Durdans Brand – inspiring persistence and perseverance during politically and economically turbulent times. Under his leadership, strategic initiatives have allowed Durdans to redraw its boundaries and direct the private healthcare sector of Sri Lanka. He not only invested in modern infrastructure and cutting-edge technology but strongly believes in developing human capital as the core strategy of service-driven organisations.
The first road map was undertaken in 1995: This initiative strived to introduce the dedicated Heart Centre concept to Sri Lanka. At the very outset of the restructuring process in 1996/7, he adopted an M&A strategy at Durdans. As an outcome of this first strategic roadmap, the Durdans Heart Centre became operational at the end of 1998. Strategic alliances were established with one of the largest freestanding Heart Institutes in Asia to facilitate technology and knowledge transfer establishing it as a medical centre of excellence. These initiatives set in motion a dramatic shift in the company’s organisational structure that propelled the hospital to new heights.
By 2003, Durdans Hospital was officially listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, which the Chairman celebrates as his greatest professional achievement. His second greatest achievement sprang from the third major strategic road map undertaken in 2006: This led to the creation of Durdans Hospital Sixth Lane Wing. The Sixth Lane Wing introduced ultra-modern facilities and greatly expanded the hospital’s capacity, further uplifting the Durdans Brand.
During this time, despite the escalating civil war hostilities in 2007-2009, Durdans Hospital made its largest-ever investment of approximately LKR 2.8 Billion. Fuelled by strategic decision making, the investments paved the way for the establishment of the three Centres of Excellence Durdans is recognised for today – it’s cardiac (heart), orthopaedic (bone) and ophthalmology (eye) care centres, and its 4 core disciplines: Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Paediatrics, General Medicine, and General Surgery. The investment greatly supported the establishment of the Sixth Lane Wing Hospital which became operational in the first quarter of 2011.
While expanding and improving the hospital’s healthcare facilities and expertise, the Chairman also drove the initiative that brought international compliance to Durdans. Durdans Hospital commenced working towards the Joint Commission International (JCI) accreditation in 2012 and obtained the Gold Seal of Approval in 2014, firmly committing to adhere to international standards and improving healthcare delivery by bringing quality and safety. This landmark achievement, which was the first-ever in Sri Lanka, raised the standards of the national healthcare sector.
In 2017, Durdans Hospital undertook further infrastructure development and strategic estructuring: The Chairman and his management team completed their fourth strategic road map that aimed to address the growing pressure customers faced with parking in the increasingly populated city of Colombo. The cost of the standalone multi-storey car park initiative along with the land value was a total of LKR 1 Billion and now houses a capacity of up to 200 vehicles. This critical intervention helped to alleviate a growing pressure point for the hospital and its clientele and ensured the expansion and persistence of the hospital in changing socio-economic conditions.
During this time, the repositioning of the Durdans Brand created a significant transformation in culture and brand identity. Under the Chairman’s leadership, the hospital embraced the tagline ‘Dedicated to You’ and initiated a paradigm shift in all service tiers to deliver medical services that are compassionate and patient-centric. It embarked on a new mission to enhance the lives of the community at large and deliver ethical and progressive medical care that will revolutionise the Sri Lankan healthcare sector – the foundation of the Vision 2022 project.
Moving into the new decade and the hospital’s 75th year of existence, the Chairman and management team commence their fifth strategic roadmap at Durdans Hospital with the Vision 2022 project. The project sets out to transform the landscape of Durdans Hospital to reflect a purpose-built tertiary healthcare institution for the 21st Century. Embedded in the hospitals new brand framework, the project will strengthen existing specialities, establish two more Centres of Excellence, encourage medical travel and medical tourism, and boost not only the country’s economy but also the health and wellness of its people.