Prathmal Gunawardana is the vice president of strategic sales for SBA Communications and co-chair of the Management Advisory Board. In this interview with Management Moments, he explains the board’s role and the work it has done to help students and better position the department, the Daniels College of Business and the University of Denver.

What is your background and what are the primary objectives and responsibilities of the executive board in supporting our college community?

Pathmal Gunawardana, who serves as the co-chair of the Management Advisory Board, sees his role as a heartfelt way to give back to the University of Denver. With both a master’s in international management and an undergraduate degree in computer science from DU, Pathmal credits his educational journey as a cornerstone of his career success. His involvement extends beyond mere obligation; it is driven by a genuine passion for engaging with students and shaping their futures. The management department was a natural choice for him, aligning perfectly with his professional expertise in sales and business development. Through his work, Pathmal helps the board refine the curriculum to meet the evolving needs of the business world, mentors aspiring students, and aids in securing internships and job placements. His greatest joy comes from connecting the practical demands of the industry with academic learning, all while sharing a dynamic synergy with fellow board members committed to giving back to their alma mater.

Can you discuss any recent accomplishments or initiatives the executive board has undertaken to enhance the college experience for students and alumni?

One of the standout initiatives the board focused on was the mentorship program. When the program first started, there was limited interest. But over time, it improved significantly and became a cornerstone of the board’s efforts. Pathmal highlighted that successful mentoring was a two-way street, requiring engagement from both mentors and students. The formalization of this program yielded remarkable results, fostering strong, impactful relationships. Additionally, the board pioneered an initiative to better equip students for the corporate world, particularly in interview preparation. This program aimed to embed skills such as self-presentation and strength articulation into the management curriculum, ensuring students were well-prepared for their professional journeys. Professor Strickland’s work on the MSM program also reflected the board’s commitment to continuously enhancing the student experience.

How does the executive board collaborate with college administration, faculty and students to address key challenges and opportunities?

Collaboration is at the heart of the board’s efforts. Its members work closely with faculty members like Department Chair Paul Olk and Professor Kathy Novak. Each year, the dean of Daniels joins their discussions, ensuring that the board’s strategic initiatives are in harmony with the broader mission and strategy of the business school. This annual alignment helps keep everyone on the same page and focused on common goals.

In what ways does the executive board contribute to shaping the strategic direction of the college?

Pathmal firmly believes that the Management Advisory Board plays a pivotal role in guiding the strategic direction of the Daniels College of Business. The dean’s vision of positioning Daniels as a leading institution that successfully places students in Fortune 100 companies resonates strongly with the board. Daniels prides itself on a “living curriculum,” one that evolves continually to incorporate cutting-edge topics like AI and robotics. The board, comprised of leaders representing a collective market capitalization exceeding $100 billion, brings invaluable industry insights to the table. Their input is instrumental in shaping the curriculum and strategic initiatives, with a particular focus on areas like human resources, reflecting the expertise of several board members.

How does the board prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in its decision-making and initiatives?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are foundational principles that underpin all of the board’s decisions and initiatives. Pathmal notes that the board itself is a testament to these values, showcasing a rich diversity in age, race and nationality. This diverse representation ensures a wide array of perspectives and experiences are considered, fostering an inclusive environment that benefits both the board’s decision-making process and the broader college community.