Dian Gomes, the CEO of Slimline Pvt. Ltd., a leading multinational garment factory in Sri Lanka sent me a copy of “A Place in the Sun” few years back. The stories in this book are written by Slimline employees, or better say “Team Slimline.” I read a few selected stories in the book written by some employees whom I admired most and kept the book in the bookshelf to read it fully at a later stage as I was more interested in ICT related books those days.
But when Dian Gomes sent me the newest book about him, “Cornerman” I felt guilty for not reading the first book he sent fully. So, without even opening the Cornerman, I finished reading the book “A Place in the Sun” at a stretch within a few days. It was a pleasing experience as I too have worked for Slimline briefly from December, 2000 to July, 2002. The Place in the Sun was published to commemorate Slimline’s 8th anniversary.
I was amazed to see the extracts about Slimline in “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” (published in 1999) written by Thomas L. Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize winning author. He had not written “The World is Flat” by then but was famous enough as a journalist. He says Slimline looks like it had descended from Mars with its modernity despite being in a tropical rainforest-like surrounding. He further says that he would let his daughters work there (if they get an American salary.) Such positive remarks coming from someone like Friedman tells it all about Slimline.
There are scores of inspirational stories throughout the book and what my eyes caught most at the very beginning was how the pistol shooter Ruwani Abeymanne was invited by Dian to work and train at Slimline while she was in a dejected state after failing to hit the bull’s eye at the Sydney Olympics. Shehan Abeygunawardene’s story on a young girl who finished last in a cycle race yet proved her mettle by finishing what she started is fascinating. There are other stories of Slimliners coming forward to help their colleagues at dire straits, teamwork shown in meeting impossible deadlines, collective spirit shown at a serious operation of a colleague’s wife or a child, etc. There were several articles written about a poor machine operator who was killed by her own husband. It was appalling to read that she and the family had not tasted a chicken curry for months and the very night she had been planning to cook a chicken curry for the family! Life is like that.
There are few articles in appreciating the cooks and maids of staff houses of the Slimline staff members and it is heartening to see that those small people are treated courteously by the Slimliners. Quite a few stories are there about staff members helping juniors to further their education by going an extra nine yards.
There are a lot of stories to appreciate Dian’s humility but what inspired me most was the one that he had to climb a 50 feet high coconut tree at an outward-bound training program. The CEO has acted like Tarzan according to Hemali Suriyapperuma. Dian is a person who never takes defeat. That I know.
Compilation of a book with employees’ stories is a fantastic idea. Employees are given freedom to write about what really interest and inspire them. Not many companies embark on such schemes. I wish I were at Slimline long enough to contribute to A Place in the Sun.
I don’t think you can buy the book from the bookshops unless you have someone related to Slimline to borrow a copy. While searching on the Net I found 2 copies available on Amazon.