You can be what you want, says Sri Lankan 'transformation catalyst' during his Dubai visit

Ranjan De Silva
If you think you cannot change, you will not. But if you believe you can, anything is possible. So speaks Ranjan De Silva, once a top corporate boss and now a "transformation catalyst". His mission: to help people change and grow. "I'm someone who is able to help people change. And through the individual, I'm able to make organisations transform themselves," he said.

De Silva, a partner in Sensei International and managing director of Sensei Lanka, was in Dubai to conduct a soft skills workshop (among a series) for SriLankan Airlines. "As a catalyst I can create the right environment, make people relax, feel a sense of trust and comfort. Then things, the right things, can happen," he added.

Typically, De Silva spends an hour of the workshop helping people relax. "Once they're comfortable, unthreatened, then they can open up. Then they can do soul-searching and plenty of accepting."

He said his workshops include a lot of visualising and games and can be tailored for diverse groups - top executives to factory workers.

De Silva has held workshops and programmes for multinationals and regional companies in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Dubai. Corporate cultures and goals may be different, but he has found the people are very much the same.

"Everyone has inside them a child wanting to escape. They may have been restricted because of society or even because of the corporate culture. Now they just want to let go. We help them to laugh a lot. We remove the negative words and thoughts and get them to accept who they really are. We say it's okay to make mistakes because you learn from mistakes," he explained. De Silva said he doesn't lecture. He tells stories. About a nun who went to medical school at 72 and graduated at 76. About a 96-year-old comedian who booked the venue for a show marking his 100th birthday. About exceptional and everyday people who believe in themselves and are always eager to grow.

"Nothing is too late. It is never too late to change, do something new. We can all change if we want to. A good person is someone who genuinely wants to help other people grow. Love is to help someone grow according to his full potential," De Silva underlined.

At 39, he has been working for 20 years. He has seen a distinct shift in corporate culture. "Some companies are still dictatorial. But a lot of companies are now focussing on leadership development. Corporate culture is becoming open to change, flexible. Earlier people were thought to be machines. Today they are valued for being people."

An award-winning marketing man who was a director of a top Sri Lankan company at 27, De Silva has learnt his own lessons.

"I have learnt to believe obstacles are there for us to grow. I can handle stress now, nothing flusters me easily. Life is a matter of choices. It is a challenge all the time, a question of growing all the time," he said, smiling widely.

Thinking right

- Four simple ways of thinking right:
- Wake up each day with enthusiasm.
- Replace the negative word with the positive word. Replace "I cannot do this" with "how can I do this".
- Smile.
- Be ready to meet new challenges.
- Ranjan De Silva's book Mind Programming for Sales Success is available in Dubai through Right Selection. For more information on his workshops etc visit

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