Saturday, 3 August 2013 00:03
Shortly after news broke of Asiri Abhayaratne’s appointment as new CEO of MarCom innovator Q&E, the agency revealed that Sherangi Jeewandara would be taking over as Brand Management Director. The company also named Sampath Karunaratne as its Creative Director, rounding out a leadership team that has evolved into one of the industry’s strongest.
Pointing to the trio’s relative youth, Asiri, Sherangi and Sampath are all below 35; Asiri noted that the agency’s collective approach to branding and communications is characterised by a deep curiosity towards every project it takes on. Elaborating on this observation, he explained that: “Our team is always probing, always asking questions, refusing to accept conventional wisdom at face value. As a result, we’ve been commended by clients time and time again for providing fresh solutions, instead of the usual cookie-cutter answers,” Asiri affirmed.
Picking up on her CEO’s comments, Sherangi stressed the importance that the MarCom specialist places on helping clients “find their difference”. “We pride ourselves on understanding exactly what makes our clients’ businesses and brands unique and leveraging those qualities in their communications,” Sherangi said.
“When clients haven’t quite figured that out themselves, we’re passionate about helping them create those points of difference.”
Equipped with a degree in Administrative Studies and a postgraduate qualification in Management, Sherangi began her career at Q&E in 2006 as a Management Trainee. Her rapid rise has been driven by her success in handling brands big and small, foreign and Sri Lankan.
Her first month in charge of the Brand Management team has seen the agency set new benchmarks, including historic revenue figures in May/June. Currently overseeing a portfolio of clients that includes many of the country’s top corporates as well as an exciting mix of challenger brands, the Brand Management Director beams when talking about the future, for Q&E and the brands it handles.
Commenting on the close relationships that the agency shares with its client brands, Sherangi explained: “Our clients trust our expertise because they understand that our only goal is to help them achieve the results they want, by creating work that engages, stimulates, provokes and delights.” Those results have often proved to be stunning. From architecting and implementing strategies that allow local brands with limited resources to take on multinational giants, to empowering sales managers with the tactical guidance they need to achieve historic sales objectives, Q&E has proven the effectiveness of its marcom expertise, time and time again.
Q&E’s Creative Director Sampath Karunaratne attributes such successes to the company’s research-based methodology as well as the creative diversity of his team. He cites his own educational background in Economics, Computer Science, and Law as providing helpful frameworks for investigating and shaping human behaviour but also points to something far more fundamental. “As an agency known for being a creative incubator, we push our brand architects, designers and writers to pursue their creative passions and to investigate the world around them,” Sampath explains. “Whether or not these explorations are ‘advertising-related’ in a strict sense.”
For example, one of the agency’s designers is currently working on a documentary on Sri Lanka’s fast-disappearing traditional agrarian practices, while a writer is planning a website featuring stories by and about Sri Lankan women. The results of these engagements with Sri Lankan people, culture and society are, more often than not, reflected in the work done by the agency, such as the 2013 edition of the Brandix calendar, which explored the role of Sri Lankan attire as visual markers of socioeconomic and cultural identity.
As Q&E surges towards new successes, CEO Asiri Abhayaratne is confident that the company’s unique approach will carry the day. From strategically repositioning corporates to developing fresh new brand identities and architecting 360-degree tactical advertising campaigns, Q&E has earned its reputation as the ‘difference-maker’.