Feb 21 2017. view 509
Today on the Buzz!!!! I have a fellow Peterite, (he is not my age) who has brought fame to this country with his latest award, which you will read about on the column. Five years under his leadership, Sanith has propelled this startup environmental social enterprise to becoming one of the region’s premier providers of integrated environmental sustainability solutions to the corporate market, with services such as Carbon & Water Footprinting, Carbon Asset Management, Bio Diversity Assessment and Life Cycle Analysis. With many awards and nomination under his name I thought I should get him on to speak about his work, and I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him in our latest production together - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Come to know what makes Sanith an interesting name with many talents on the Buzz today!
Full Name: Sanith Peter de Silva Wijeyeratne
Birthday: 14th January
Passions: Music, theatre, singing, wildlife photography and the environment
Favourite Colour: Black
What made you work with the environment and issues related to it?
I have always been a fan of the outdoors and wildlife. Part and parcel of that is being aware of how much of an adverse impact humans are having on this planet. When I was offered the chance to step into this new role, which would allow me to make an actual difference, it was an opportunity to play my part in helping to halt this adverse change.
Who has been your biggest support in making this a reality?
My wife Ashu. I sat down with her to evaluate the high risk I was running, by leaving an industry in which I was well versed, to take over a company which was in an area I knew nothing about! She was encouraged me from the first instance. I would not have been able to take that gamble without her unstinting belief in me and her support. I do also have to thanks the Board of CCC who have put their faith in me by entrusting me with this company. Their constant support and encouragement is vital for what we do.
What does the Carbon Consulting Company do?
We are the country’s leading provider of integrated environmental sustainably solutions. That is a fancy way of saying that we work hand in hand with companies to asses the intensity of the environmental impacts that they are responsible for before trying to reduce these impacts and then to compensate for what they are unable to reduce. We work across many disciplines like carbon footprinting, water footprinting, environmental assessments, waste management and corporate sustainability strategy.
Your passion for acting and singing?
Genetic problem. No matter how hard I try, I still can't seem to get away from either.
What have you planned for this year?
Well, we just had a fabulous run of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with the past and present boys of St. Peters College. The show was directed by Jehan Bastians and Neidra Williams with Charith De Silva. It was a fantastic run with almost all the shows getting standing ovations. I don’t think there will be anything else this year, given my work and travel schedule…. But who knows what may come up.
How is married life treating you? And tell me about the love story.
Ashu and I met at the very first group of the Workshop Players, when we were founder members. And well, the rest is history. Given that one of the prime motivations that we had to start the Workshop at St. Peters College, was to meet girls, I’d say that that objective was well and truly achieved. Married life is great. Don’t believe anyone who says it’s a bed of roses, but we have been lucky. We are surrounded by the love and support of great families on both sides, we both have inspirational examples of our parents which we can follow and we have been blessed to have Sahein, who is everything a parent could want.
What was one of your most defining moments in life?
When I decided to give up a my career as a corporate lawyer.
Tell me about your winning moment for this year when you won The Global CSR Leadership Award.
It was an absolute honour for me to be conferred this award. When I was first contacted by the organization I actually thought it was a mistake.. but I checked it out and found that it was a significant award. To be recognized with such a global accolade for the work we have done for the last few years is humbling. I could not have done this without the support of my team through out the years. And it was a very proud moment for me to stand on the stage in front of so many exceptional people from different countries to be given such a prestigious honour.
What does a perfect day look like to you?
A quiet morning, in a beautiful natural setting (on a mountain or in a jungle) with a good book, enough to eat and absolutely nothing to do.
What does a “day of work” look like?
Well, I spend a significant part of my work day travelling between client meetings and presentations, as I take a front seat in many of our client engagements. So I am behind a steering wheel for a good part of the day. Most of the other time, is managing projects and managing the company’s finances.
On the Spot?
Do you feel we Sri Lankans are informed about the issues in the environment?
I believe that most Sri Lankans understand the basic implications of environmental pollution. But that challenge is to get them to commit toward taking action to mitigate the impact. Everyone wants something for free, and everyone is happy to talk about doing good, as long as they don’t have to expend an additional effort or incur a slightly greater cost to do so. And this is true from the pavement to the boardroom.
What would you say is the biggest problem the world will face soon?
The indifference to climate change is found among the very rich. From Trump ignoring climate science as fake to countries such as USA refusing to commit towards reduction the problem is with the well off. The poor rural villager lives a sustainable life, but a company director refuses to support climate action, as a slightly increased cost to his (highly polluting) company could result in a reduction in his multi million rupee bonus… And the same is true between countries. Poor Sri Lanka will try hard to be greener but it won't make a difference while China, Australia and the USA do nothing much to fight climate change.
Do you feel the local education system is helping us understand the gravity of nature and where it's heading?
Our education system in my opinion, is an antiquated, outdated and woefully inadequate system that is kept in place by a stubborn few who only have their personal interests at heart (but perhaps that is the subject for a different rant). Suffice it to say that our myopic education system teaches all children to plant trees to help the environment (Nobody tells them that trees need to be nurtured and protected for 15 years to make a difference). And this results in senior directors and managers believing that planting 20 trees at a factory will solve the global environmental crisis. Ask them 6 months later what happened to the said trees and nobody knows. But everybody thinks they did their part by merely planting them. Our education system needs to have a long range focus and educate kids to be the kind of future global citizens the planet needs, and not to be the one who can memorize the best while reproducing the same under exam conditions.
What is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it?
Cut on my upper arm, which looks like a knife scar, but was actually a claw mark by a large monitor lizard that my brothers and I along with 2 friends were trying to rescue from being trapped in a building. We were carrying him to the river when one friend let go of the lizard’s leg… (he shall remain nameless, but not blameless).
What is the most random thing you’ve ever watched all the way through?
The mid '80s when I watched an unheard of movie called The Highlander at the Savoy, just because I was bored that evening. Came out TRANSFORMED and have been a devout fan ever since.
If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
Donald Trump. I want to know what it is like to make up blatant lies like he does, sprout it out to the entire world, but have people in America be forced to follow what I want done. INSANE. Imagine the FUN I could have.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I am open to the possibility they exist, but won't believe till I see one.
Shark diving, bungee jumping, or sky diving?
Sky diving (sharks scare the hell out of me, and my wife has banned me from bungee jumping)!
Which would be harder for you to give up: coffee or tea?
Tea, but it’s a close call.
In your opinion, what is the best Disney movie to come out since Disney’s Golden Age?
I would go with the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie and the Narnia franchise, although I have a very fond place in my heart for The Lion King.
What is your most bizarre talent?
Does making up inappropriate songs on the fly count?
Is there a documentary or book that really changed the way you thought about something?
Steve Jobs’ biography by Walter Isaacson.