Future fashion: GS Periwal
Date: 03/07/2021

Future fashion: GS Periwal

GS (Ghanshyam) Periwal firmly believes that leadership isn’t something to be taken lightly. Rather, he sees it as his “moral responsibility to impact positively”, since being given the opportunity to lead the ever-growing team at Norlanka.

“I’m fortunate that I’ve been given the chance to lead and impact the lives of the people that work with us in the ecosystem,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “As business leaders, we’re allowed to make a difference towards the greater good through our decision-making.

“At Norlanka, our leadership philosophy is about working out how to unleash the potential of the humans around us, as we believe everyone has unlimited potential. We never judge people before seeing what they can do – we provide an equal opportunity to everyone. Our satisfaction is in creating the right environment for them.”

When GS joined Norlanka in 2015 as COO, he brought with him a wealth of knowledge garnered over a varied career that included time as a chartered accountant, financial controller and even as the owner of a company – a valuable experience that taught him “how to do valuations, acquisitions, obtain clients and talent, and also, learn from failures”.

In 2019, GS was promoted to CEO of Norlanka and set to work identifying areas that could be improved. Today, only a decade since Norlanka was established, the global apparel solutions provider employs over 350 staff in Sri Lanka and works closely with 20 designers and product developers across the world to sell its products in almost every continent.

Norlanka works with over 40 factories across the country which provide over 25,000 direct employment in rural areas who cater to Norlanka’s vast product portfolio and is one of the largest sustainable exporters of Baby and Kids wear out of Sri Lanka. As a company with international bandwidth, Norlanka continues to bring in foreign investment to improve the manufacturing capabilities of their business partners through continuous research and support in terms of finance for working capital, raw material sourcing and payroll. “We believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of our partners; our working relationship allows them to step up to the next level and bring pride to their business.”

Our leadership philosophy is about working out how to unleash the potential of the humans around us.

Since taking the reins, GS has also focused on business-to-consumer and fashion technology growth. He is overseeing multiple acquisitions to benefit Norlanka and expand its “ecosystem”, including the recent merger of an IT company – “an important offering, given that the ways that so many companies are dealing with technology are so cumbersome and so expensive,” he says. “We’re trying to fill that gap, and we are getting amazing responses from the industry.

“The biggest satisfaction that I get is from knowing the value that our evolving team understands the importance of continuous innovation to add value to the business as well as the industry. We always explore options how to eliminate inefficiencies across the industry, its impact to the bottom line of the business and become better than before.”

With people – whether they are employees, partners or customers – ultimately at the heart of everything that happens at Norlanka, it’s not surprising that GS is intently focused on ensuring a strong company culture that creates happy and supported staff.

“Every year we conduct sessions on values, strategies, leadership and culture with top-notch Harvard University professors, to further strengthen Norlanka’s forte of customer centricity, reliability, agility and fast response,” GS explains.

Norlanka runs frequent high-level training and education programs for its staff, in a bid to continuously improve their skillset to contribute positively to the industry as a whole and appeal to a wider demographic of future professionals to be part of the supply chain and manufacturing fraternity.

He goes on to say, “So we’ve been thinking about how we can increase our level of talent and transform the way the next generation sees a career in this industry. We take training and education very seriously.”

“Transparency and ethics are part of our core values,” he says. “It is in our culture and practice to engage in partnerships with businesses who share a similar value stream. We are also very focused on sustainability, with ethical sourcing, eco-friendly raw materials, and we follow a responsible supply chain.”

The further we go along that path, the more we learn that sustainability and corporate social responsibility can go hand in hand with business interest.

In line with Norlanka’s Environment, Social & Governance (ESG) model, net positive renewable energy project is scheduled to be commissioned in the 3rd quarter this year with many more environment friendly projects in the pipeline.

“It gives us immense satisfaction as a part of the society to know that we are positively contributing to the environment and understand the impact of carbon emissions. And the further we go along that path, the more we learn that sustainability and corporate social responsibility can go hand in hand with business interest. It’s not an either-or situation.”

During the interview, it was evident that GS is confident that staying at the forefront of continuous innovation is an obvious decision for Norlanka.

“COVID-19 has brought about a lot of self-awareness. As a business, our leadership style and business model has proven to be agile and responsive to withstand many supply chain challenges during the testing times. More businesses have accepted the need of technology, and digitisation, which is a good start, but it’s a long journey. People are starting to realise that it is all about investing for the future. So the mindset is changing, which is positive.”