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Dilith tells APIIT MBA’s. “I am disappointed and very deeply hurt....!”

Monday, 21st of February 2022

At last week’s APIIT MBA Diaries - the most sought after weekly chat with the movers and shakers in the corporate world of Sri Lanka, media tycoon Dilith Jayaweera of Derana fame said ‘ I am disappointed and deeply hurt’ responding to the question by Dr Rohantha Athukorala on the performance of brand Gotabaya Rajapakse’s performance being an anchor to bringing this personality to power in the 2019 Presidential election. ‘He is the most sincere politician that the country has had in the recent past and when I got to know him I personally made a promise to myself that I will do everything possible to bring this brand to power as the leader of this country, but the system has not supported him and things have gone the wrong way said Jayaweera.

Conceptualizing the reality Dr Athukorala said “communication develops expectations on the consumers but when a product does not deliver the promise there is chaos in the market place leading to absolute bad of mouth. This applies not only in social marketing projects like elections but also in marketing fast moving consumer goods be it toothpaste, soaps or breakfast cereals. Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology (APIIT) is the leader for the most Industry linked education in Sri Lanka and is part of the Asia Pacific University ( APU) that must be mandatory for sustainability at industry end says the Chairman Bandula Egodage.

The MBA offered by APIIT is from Staffordshire University (UK) the University of the Year in UK in 2020 and one of the top teaching quality award winning Universities in the United Kingdom. With a rich 21 years plus relationship between APIIT and Staffordshire University has over a two thousand top quality potential CEO’s that has been nurtured and trained said Egodage who is also the Chairman of the Industrial Association of Sri Lanka. Last week’s speaker at the APIIT MBA Diary- Dilith Susantha Jayaweera is a Sri Lankan corporate leader with over three decades of experience building businesses that have grown to enjoy industry leadership.

He is the Group Chairman of George Steuart & Co., Sri Lanka’s oldest mercantile establishment in which he took a controlling interest in 2011. He also sits on the Boards of Citrus Leisure PLC and Colombo Land and Development Company PLC, which are listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange. Mr. Jayaweera first rose to prominence in the advertising industry by co-founding Triad (Pvt) Ltd., in 1993. Triad is Sri Lanka’s largest and most awarded communications entity today, and is the single largest indigenous provider of brand building, advertising, and creative services through its extensive diversification into many related services.

He is the Chairman of Powerhouse (Pvt) Ltd., the holding company of Derana, Sri Lanka’s preeminent media offering with a wide presence across multiple platforms. He also established Liberty Publishers (Pvt) Limited, which is the publisher of two national broadsheets – the Sinhala language daily “Aruna” and the weekly English language “The Morning”. Mr Jayaweera holds an LLB from the University of Colombo and an MBA from the University of Wales, and is an Attorney at Law. Given his diversity and depth of thinking the MBA Diary dialogue was interesting and timely given that he was responsible for bringing on the current President of Sri Lanka to his office way back in 2019.

When asked if he will do this task again for Sri Lanka, Jayaweera commented ‘Very unlikely as in this kind of product, there is no control on the delivery of the product promise at the consumer end and experience was bitter was his very words. “ I will not want to do this again as it is very hurtful and if the day it effects the social equity build over time said Jayaweera very solemnly. Once again conceptualizing the reality Dr Athukorala commented ‘In today’s world brand purpose and delivery of the purpose is key to survival. People don’t like to join companies who don’t live up to the promise that is being communicated.

This is the lesson to the MBA Graduates who are going out to take over the next generation of CEO positions in the near future he said. APIIT MBA’s programme of 2022 has introduced the most innovative curriculum based on the extensive work done by Staffordshire University in the post pandemic work environment which includes specialised training on International Marketing, Entrepreneurship and having a innovation based work culture. This is absolutely an important for a country like Sri Lanka that is faced with crisis and Governance challenge said Dr Athukorala.

MBA Diary ethos

The MBA Diary series have discussed many issues that the country has been faced with. The consensus is that Sri Lanka has got the best chance to Re calibrate given that Tourism is starting business from scratch whilst the financial crisis can be turned to a opportunity by Re negotiating the debt and starting a growth agenda post pandemic. Sri Lanka’s fifth chance has emerged said Athukorala.

SL - Tourism track back

Athukorala tracked back that in 2009 Sri Lanka got the first chance after the cessation of hostilities with the LTTE. A fullyfledged advertising tender was rolled out, with top professionals in the technical committee to develop a new positioning for Sri Lanka. Then came the Second chance: 2015 when the Yahapalanaya Government came, where Sri Lanka believed that the hierarchy was professional in nature, and good quality people decided to take responsibility to lead such key institutions like tourism. The top seven global advertising agencies were shortlisted to submit proposals with a clear brief, which was done in just three months, with the team working past midnight, given the urgency of the campaign.

A month before proposals were submitted, the Board was dissolved in October 2015, whilst the tender was cancelled two days before the submission date of the proposals. All seven ad agencies were up in arms. The minister had other ideas outside the tenderer process sadly. The Third chance – Post April attack when Sri Lanka Tourism has got the third chance, and that too was squandered when the AG’s department did not approve the proposal submitted to PR agency to drive a global marketing initiative due to the irregularities identified. The Fourth chance – Post presidential election when the industry got the fourth chance post with the new president taking office.

This gave birth to a golden opportunity given that the tourism sector was classified as an export industry. It was a brilliant move given the tax breaks that the industry will be entitled to will be similar to the companies attached to the EDB. But the industry folded when Covid-19 hit the world and Sri Lanka tourism once again got affected. The 5th Chance - go back to basic approach was 5th Chance with the launch of tourism on the 21st of January. The ethos was simple - “Be brilliant in the basics.” This is exactly what Maldives is doing in driving the tourism sector. Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning. Sri Lanka must do the same was the previous MBA diaries have been conceptualising in the previous MBA Diaries with the participation of the top quality professions from the industry who are students on the APIIT MBA programmes. We must link the academy and Industry. That’s the only way to help the country said Chairman Egodage.

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