Features

Driving empowerment through reading

The Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce Sri Lanka (WCIC) launched their newest initiative the Business Book Club, in June, holding an inaugural launch event with Sri Lankan writer, editor, publisher, sociologist, and entrepreneur Ameena Hussein.

The WCIC is an organisation of business and professional women coming together to help urban and rural women develop their entrepreneurial skills to better their living standards. The WCIC also aims to become a powerful voice for advancing the interests and views of Sri Lankan businesswomen and improving the business environment for women in Sri Lanka. 

WCIC Board Member and Business Book Club Committee Chair Sarrah Sammoon

The Morning Brunch reached out to WCIC Board Member and Business Book Club Committee Chair Sarrah Sammoon to learn more about the WCIC Business Book Club. Sammoon, who is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of seamless mobility solutions provider Magellan Champlain, is an entrepreneur who has run her own literary salon, the Silent Community Of Readers (SCOR), since 2009. Her expertise led Sammoon, with the support of WCIC Chairperson Chathuri Ranasinghe and the Board of the WCIC, to introduce the Business Book Club concept.

“The idea of the Business Book Club is to encourage reading among businesswomen, learning from others’ mistakes, and sharing new ideas that can enhance their own careers,” Sammoon shared, explaining that the Business Book Club was initially supposed to take place in the form of a physical meeting, but has been launched virtually in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The format of the Business Book Club is to discuss a book each month and converse with either the author of the book or an expert in the field that the book is related to as well as share ideas with other businesswomen, promoting networking and mentoring. 

“Through reading and discussions with experts, the Business Book Club hopes to create a platform for valuable discussion,” Sammoon commented, sharing that prior to the inaugural launch event, a private webinar session was held with Community Journeys Founder and Master Performance Coach Andrea Bednar on the theme of “From Wannabe-Productive to Getting Sh*t Done – suddenly being at home when boundaries between work, play, personal life, and kids all blurred together can seem liberating in short bursts, but a disaster for getting things done in the long term. So how do we cut through the chaos and make space for productivity?”

Sri Lankan writer, editor, publisher, sociologist, and entrepreneur Ameena Hussein speaking at the inaugural session

As mentioned above, the inaugural session of the WCIC Business Book Club featured Sri Lankan writer, editor, publisher, sociologist, and entrepreneur Ameena Hussein, who discussed the topic “Making Leaders with Books and Conversation”. During the session, Hussein discussed her life experiences, writing and how she wrote a book while recovering from a major illness, how she has built her own publishing house, and the challenges she faces in Sri Lanka as a writer.

The Business Book Club will not feature exclusively female authors and speakers, Sammoon explained; it will be based on important business concepts and on promoting growth and development among businesswomen through linking with renowned authors and industry experts. While an objective of the Business Book Club is to build awareness and drive membership of the WCIC, the Business Book Club is not limited solely to female members. 

Speaking on launching a book club virtually in the midst of a pandemic, Sammoon shared that since March, everyone has had to adjust to virtual settings and that in a virtual setting, some people can be more willing to ask questions, while they might shy away from doing so in physical settings; this has turned out be an advantage as moderators can make sure all questions are addressed, even if this has to be done on an individual level post-session.

The next session of the WCIC Business Book Club will take place on 27 August at 6.30 p.m. via Zoom and will be a conversation with Sri Lanka’s first woman banker, Rohini Nanayakkara discussing her memoir “What Glass Ceiling?”

Future sessions hope to discuss the books “AYS Gnanam: My Father’s Story” by Jey Gnanam and “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. The speakers for these sessions are yet unconfirmed. Please visit the WCIC Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WCICSL for further updates.