For Shamindra, the opportunity to travel is one of the best perks of his job.
A photography and travel enthusiast from his school days, Shamindra enjoys exploring new places in Sri Lanka and cherishes memories of experiences on the road. He laughs as he recalls travelling during COVID, when he and his colleagues would stop the vehicle to eat lunch off the side of the road, balancing rice and curry packets on their laps - they were afraid to remove their masks inside the vehicle!
“When I used to travel overseas for work, sometimes I would feel sad that I was seeing new places without my family. So in 2019, I took my whole family on a trip to Malaysia.” Travelling with his family allowed Shamindra to appreciate the beauty of the planet, and those memories now serve as a reminder of life’s unpredictability. This is why the unchanging quality of photographs appeals to him – in this temperamental world, they capture who we are and how we are feeling at that moment in time.
While journeying across the country and visiting different factories, Shamindra gets to observe first-hand the impact of unsustainable practices and resultant damage caused to the environment. These experiences underpin the personal and professional obligations he feels to commit to greener policies. Travelling also provides him the opportunity to encounter remarkable people working in the field, such as the member of a recycling collective who was fondly referred to as Sudu Mama in the community. Shamindra feels there is much wisdom to be acquired by studying how rural communities live in harmony with nature and the steps they take to protect the environment.
During his twenty-six years at Phoenix, Shamindra got married, raised two children and became Assistant Manager (Sustainability) at the Phoenix green plant. There are many parallels in his dedication to his personal relationships, and the responsibility he feels towards his team. As a father and husband, he strives hard to be able to provide for his family. In the same vein, he says “the company looks after me, so I must look after my team”.
In both instances, he declares “communication is key - without good communication, we cannot do anything”. Shamindra goes to work earlier and stays later than he is required to as this gives him the opportunity to catch up with colleagues who are taking on the night shift. When he goes home, he likes talking about special incidents that occurred that day during dinner. Regular and effective communication fosters stronger bonds between people, whether it’s members of a family or work colleagues.
Another connection between his two worlds is keeping their occupants motivated. Shamindra encourages his children to achieve personal milestones just as he raises his team’s spirits to meet their allocated targets, despite the stream of obstructions before them. Ups and downs in life are to be expected – but Shamindra endeavours to remain positive when faced with challenges, as he knows people are counting on him.
Shamindra highlights the need to ensure the planet is habitable by future generations. At the green plant in Phoenix, the collected recyclables are divided by material and colour before undergoing the pelletization process. The recycled plastics are then ready to be re-used by the production team. At home, his family members make sure to separate plastics and glass from their household waste before handing it over to municipal collectors. While larger institutions such as corporates and national governments have a duty to safeguard the environment, Shamindra believes individuals are not absolved from taking whatever steps they can to minimize their carbon footprint.
While discussing the ways working at Phoenix has influenced him, Shamindra jokes that whenever he is about to take a seat in a plastic chair, he can’t help but first check who has manufactured it!