Dian Gomes: MAS Holdings

Dian Gomes, group directorRole: Group director, MAS Holdings
Location: Sri Lanka
Highlights: Supporting ethical apparel manufacturing practices and garnering global recognition in creating sporting legacies

Defined as a dynamic individual with a passion for people, CIMA member Dian Gomes is a group director of MAS Holdings, the largest apparel manufacturer in South Asia. He is also the managing director of MAS Intimates, the US$300 million division of the MAS group.

MAS Intimates specialises in manufacturing intimate-wear primarily to the US and UK markets, servicing globally recognised brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Nike, Marks & Spencer, GAP, Adidas and DBA. A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK), Dian Gomes also heads human resources, corporate communication, branding and CSR for the entire MAS Holdings group, which currently has approximately 45,000 associates.

The CIMA competitive advantage

Dian commenced his career at KPMG Ford Rhodes and later joined Saracen Interiors International as the financial controller at the young age of 22 – a fresh CIMA graduate. He was subsequently promoted to finance director of the company. He left Saracen to join the Fortune 500 listed May Corporation as the youngest general manager of their global operations from Sri Lanka.

In 1990 he joined MAS Holdings, and is now at the helm of the organisation. During his 20 years at MAS, Dian has played pivotal roles, progressing from finance director to a group director. His exemplary leadership enabled him to become a managing director at the age of 32.

As the president of CIMA’s Sri Lanka division in 2001/2002, Dian believes in incorporating hard learned philosophies with practical business. ‘Responding to critical market trends faster than our competitors gives us the edge we need to passionately follow through with our unique innovations,’ he emphasises. ‘A set of dominos couldn’t have fallen so precisely in place. That’s what a great foundation can bring out in you – the confidence to come up with split second decisions that would alter an entire industry.’

The accolades Dian has received throughout the years speak for themselves. He was awarded the ‘business leader of the year 2003’ award in the large scale category at the CIMA Janashakthi Pinnacle Awards and was highly commended by CIMA-UK at the Business Leader Awards in London, 2004. This well-rounded corporate experience is complemented by a sound academic background: Dian received his executive education at Wharton Business School, the Ashridge Business School and Harvard Business School.

Ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices

Dian emphasises on the global benchmarks set by the company for sustainable apparel manufacturing. ‘MAS Intimates created a vision that embedded environmental sustainability and green manufacturing into management accounting and finance functions. Increasing our involvement in global sustainability has cemented our stand as a pioneer in preserving the well being of not just the community’s social capital, but also its environment.’

MAS Intimates Thurulie, the eco-manufacturing facility of MAS Holdings, is the world’s first purpose-built eco-manufacturing plant for apparel. In 2010, Thurulie was awarded the LEED platinum certification by the US. Green Building Council, and was hailed as the world’s first LEED platinum new-built factory. Thurulie also won the prestigious ‘globe award for sustainability innovation 2010’ in Stockholm, Sweden. To further support ethical manufacturing, MAS joined in the initiative ‘garments without guilt’.

Building social capital through CIMA

With the changes in the economic climate businesses comes the need to adjust to remain competitive. With his purview over 15,000 employees, Dian sums up why management accountancy is vital for businesses to gain a competitive edge.

‘CIMA’s biggest contribution to MAS Holdings has been in facilitating me with very talented managers. With the majority of the workforce in MAS being women, women’s empowerment has been a key ethical and social responsibility. The ‘women go beyond’ programme was launched to support them in attaining work-life balance, education, and train them on additional skills to sustain livelihood when they leave the organisation.

‘In March 2010 when I went to address the Victoria’s Secret global supplier conference, MAS was introduced to the audience as an exemplary company in the world famed for CSR. That’s when I realised the enormity of our contribution to society.’

‘Managing people does not only mean giving them job opportunities,’ he states. ‘We learn to give them opportunities where they can grow and evolve at a constant pace. The theories we learn through CIMA are made practical in the corporate world.’

Dian reiterates the importance of inculcating work life balance through example. In addition to his career duties at MAS Holdings, Dian has contributed immensely to the sports arena: he was president of the Sri Lanka Amateur Boxing Association for 5 consecutive years, and is presently the vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka. He has also been the chef de mission for several international sporting events, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Dian’s versatility shines through the publications he has co-authored and conceptualised, including the book Costumes of Sri Lanka which was awarded the ‘best prose non-fiction’ award at the State Literary Awards in 2003.

Words of wisdom

A people’s person, a business leader, a mentor and guide, Dian Gomes lives by one rule in life: viz., ‘nothing is impossible.’