Vipulesh Thiyagarajah

Leading Taian Lanka Steel to New Heights

Vipulesh Thiyagarajah

Chief Strategy Officer,

Taian Lanka Steel

Boredom can often serve as an unexpected catalyst for remarkable journeys. For Vipulesh Thiyagarajah, Chief Strategy Officer at Taian Lanka Steel, this sentiment couldn’t ring truer. His professional odyssey commenced innocuously enough during the tumultuous years of the pandemic when boredom prompted him to shadow business executives, inadvertently igniting a passion that would shape his career trajectory.
However, the seeds of Vipulesh’s journey were sown even earlier, during his formative years as an intern at a prestigious law firm in Sri Lanka back in 2018. Though his initial interests leaned towards policy studies, it was his exposure to the intricacies of business that captured his imagination and set him on a path of discovery. Venturing across continents, Vipulesh’s thirst for knowledge took him to the corridors of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he embraced a multidisciplinary approach to education. His quest for experiential learning led him to diverse landscapes, from the bustling cities of America to the vibrant Cape Town, South Africa.
Armed with a diverse skill set honed through experiences in biotech, political science, finance, and business economics, Vipulesh returned to his homeland of Sri Lanka, poised to make a significant impact. Assuming the role of Chief Strategy Officer at Taian Lanka Steel, he brings with him a global perspective and a strategic mindset, driving the company towards new horizons of success.
So, how has been Vipulesh’s journey, and what are some of the key learnings and strategies we tried to explore in an exclusive interview with him? 

What key career challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them, especially in your current role?

In navigating my career, particularly in my current role, I encountered significant challenges exacerbated by the volatile market conditions of industrial manufacturing during the concluding phases of the global pandemic. Intense competition prevailed, requiring adept risk assessment, mitigation strategies, and clear communication to safeguard stakeholders’ interests. Overcoming these challenges demanded meticulous planning and decisive action.

What are the key strengths that have fueled your success in your current role and career overall?

My success stems from adaptability and innovation, which are crucial for navigating challenges and seizing opportunities. Embracing continuous adaptation and seeking innovative solutions keeps me ahead in dynamic environments. Building diverse teams ensures comprehensive perspectives and mitigates risks.

Are distinct business strategies needed for Asia compared to other regions? If so, why, and what are they?

Different business strategies are crucial for the Asian market due to diverse cultural, economic, and regulatory landscapes. Localization, relationship-building, and customised approaches are vital. While digitization, including AI and SaaS, drives efficiency globally, its implementation in Asia may vary due to factors like language diversity and technological infrastructure. Adapting digital strategies to regional characteristics while leveraging core benefits enhances efficiency and competitiveness in the Asian market.

Share your guiding principles for success in business and leadership.

My guiding principle for success in business and leadership is to work hard towards goals while finding joy in the journey. Passion for what you do is essential, as success without fulfilment is hollow. Sacrificing passion for prestige is like being on the Titanic after the iceberg strikes—success loses allure without fulfilling dreams. The true reward is in the experience itself; embracing the journey with enthusiasm is the ultimate accolade in the pursuit of excellence.

How does your UCLA background in political science, international relations, and entrepreneurship shape your business strategy and leadership?

My academic background in political science, international relations, and entrepreneurship at UCLA shapes my business strategy and leadership. Grounded in political science, I adopt a macro perspective, leveraging historical patterns and international relations to tackle challenges. This interdisciplinary foundation equips me with diverse insights, enabling adaptability in dynamic business landscapes.

Describe your leadership approach in Asian business culture, particularly for Taian Lanka Steel in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka’s business landscape, particularly at Taian Lanka Steel, my leadership revolves around addressing technological gaps and human reliance. I prioritise motivational strategies and human resource management, catering to employees’ needs. Fostering a culture of collective ownership and pride, we aim to cultivate loyalty and commitment. Taian Lanka Steel isn’t just a workplace but an immortality project where employees find purpose, aligning with Asian business dynamics for sustainable growth.

How do you leverage your experiences from Taian Lanka Steel as a Director of the Board at Getwin Group, and vice versa?

As a director at Getwin Group, I utilise insights from Taian Lanka Steel to improve operations and strategy. Taian Lanka’s expertise in factory management and logistics benefits startups within Getwin, aiding in operational efficiency. Conversely, my involvement with Getwin exposes me to diverse regulatory environments, enriching my perspective on Taian Lanka, particularly in international trade. This symbiotic relationship fosters the exchange of ideas, driving success for both entities.