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Redefining international protocol with ‘Manners in Management’

Sep 26, 2011 2:30:11 PM - www.ft.lk

By Cassandra Mascarenhas
Professional Edge Consulting, a Canadian company based in Ottawa headed by young Sri Lankan entrepreneur Praveeni Perera is set to commence its entry onto a global platform in Sri Lanka with the launch of ‘Manners in Management’, a two-day conference in business etiquette to be held in March 2012.

The company offers seminars, workshops, group and individual training in business etiquette, development and image consulting and is spearheaded by Perera who plans on targeting multinationals and business schools in Sri Lanka for the upcoming conference that will cover a range of topics at the conference which will be hosted at the Cinnamon Grand on 23 and 24 March.
“Currently we are based in Ottawa, Canada and we would like to start off our international campaign with Sri Lanka because obviously I was born here and we think that there is a great market for business professionals that are dealing with international clients. Sri Lanka is a vastly developing country especially after the war and there has been a lot of interest in the country globally and we think that our services would be beneficial to business professionals here,” explained Perera in an interview with the Daily FT.
Professional Edge Consulting’s main seminar series, ‘Manners in Management’, comprises of four workshops which go into detail about general business etiquette and the programme which will be conducted in Sri Lanka will also consist of four parts, the first being an overview of the concepts of business etiquette and will also serve as an introduction for professionals who have never taken a seminar in business etiquette; and for those who have taken one, would be a refresher.
The second topic will be on communication etiquette, right down from how to answer a phone call to how to draft a formal business letter. The third topic will cover dining etiquette and will be a hands-on workshop where participants will be able to try out different place settings and get comfortable with them, different ways of placing your cutlery and the final topic will be an image consulting workshop which will go through the dos and don’ts of workplace attire. The final segment will include a fashion show highlighting these points so that the participants will actually be able to visualise and see it for themselves, explained Perera.
She went on to say that this conference will be an advanced version of their usual workshops as they plan on targeting mid to higher level management. Currently, the company offers their programmes to business schools in North America and such seminars are conducted at a more introductory level as they are targeted towards new graduates.
“We will be targeting a lot of multinational companies because they would be the ones dealing with international clients and would find our services most beneficial and we are also targeting some business schools here as well that would offer an MBA programme, as generally MBA students tend to be more mature as they’ve got some work experience behind them and they are most probably working for an MNC already or will be after completing their degree,” Perera added.
The conference will double as an awareness campaign and she hopes that after the initial conference, there would be more interest expressed in the company, and divulged that their plans for expansion in the future include tapping into the market in South Asia and then Asia Pacific as well.
Perera assured that the company would definitely offer a customised service for a company, as that is what they currently do with their work with business schools in North America. Their programmes are modified accordingly to suit the needs of the client and the company can devise an exclusive programme that would cater to the needs of a specific organisation or school.
When asked as to how she came up with the idea of starting up an organisation offering such services and why she had decided to take on the risk of striking out on her own instead of working with another company, the young entrepreneur explained that after completing her MBA in International Business, she expressed a desire to work in international development but was not sure if she would be able to secure a job in that particular field as with the recession in North America and the global financial crisis, the job market was down and didn’t want to compromise by working in a field she wouldn’t be satisfied in and had hence decided to start up her own business.
“I first had the idea for starting up a business teaching international protocol and business etiquette when I was taking one of my courses for my MBA. It was called cross cultural management where we had to learn about how business is conducted in different parts of the world, different customs, norms, how you should greet people, what you should say, even down to how you should present your business card – whether you should give it with one or two hands,” she described. “I found that course really interesting because we were divided into different groups and we had to learn about different cultures and do presentations in that culture.”
Aside from the ‘Manners in Management’ campaigns, Professional Edge Consulting also offers programmes in conflict and negotiation – different tactics and how one should handle different situations, as well as language classes in English at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels and at a professional level which is for someone who is already advanced in English but feel the need for some fine tuning and polishing up skills; this is mainly targeted towards higher level professionals. The company also offers beginner French classes.
Professional Edge Consulting comprises of CEO Praveeni Perera, Director Programme Management Priyangani Pannila Perera and Director Client Relations Louise Jackson. More information on the company and the upcoming conference can be found on their website www.proedgeconsulting.ca.

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