Plans to elevate SLIM for international recognition

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Kalana Rathnayaka recently became the 36th President of SLIM. He joined the Institute 10 years ago and he has been the first student of the first batch of four courses offered by SLIM. Born in Kadugannawa and educated at Kingswood College Kandy, he chose Biology for his higher studies, before settling on a career in marketing. Following are excerpts of an interview: Q: What made you choose marketing as a career? A: In my opinion there is no profession which offers the degree of self-satisfaction offered by marketing. It requires a lot of effort, dedication and hard work, but the benefits and experience you gain in return are invaluable. In a professional sense, your earning capacity in this field is only limited by your capabilities. Q: How is membership of SLIM provided to marketers? A: SLIM offers membership under several categories and one of these categories is based on professional experience. Some members are given voting privileges due to the necessary qualifications they possess. Speaking from personal development I can say that the opportunities for personal and professional development provided by SLIM to its members ultimately far outweigh the contribution made in terms of the membership fee. Q: How important are marketing ethics? A: There is a lot of focus on marketing in everyday life. However, at times I do not see sufficient attention paid to the quality of the goods or services that are being marketed or basic marketing ethics. This is one of the greatest challenges faced by SLIM and that is the reason why we strive to produce ethical marketers who will not compromise on ethics for a quick sale. Q: As the national body for marketing, what are the most important contributions of SLIM to Sri Lanka? A: Most of the top corporate entities in the larger industries in the country are associate organisations of SLIM and therefore its contribution to the national economy is immense. We are the most active national institute for marketing among the 14 national bodies which are members of the Asia Marketing Federation. We have already expanded to Maldives and in the near future, we have plans to take our educational services to Bangladesh. The educational qualifications offered by SLIM are recognised by any local university and we continuously update and develop the content of study programmes with the guidance of the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the marketing arena. This is the reason that a large number of students enrol in SLIM courses each year, and today virtually all vacancies in marketing require a SLIM qualification. We generate healthy competition and exposure for professionals in the marketing field with the National level award ceremonies we organise annually. These awards are held in high esteem in the corporate sector due to the transparency of the competitions and the reputation of SLIM and the world’s top market research companies have consistently validated the results of our competitions. Q: What measures have been taken to expand the message on the importance of marketing beyond Colombo and the main cities? A: SLIM conducts ‘Gamata Marketing’, a program which has proved to be highly successful and has literally taken marketing to the villages. Through this we focus on one rural industry each year and impart practical marketing knowledge on small traders, empowering them to achieve rapid business growth. We also conduct school based programs and even provide support to various programs conducted by schools independently of SLIM. At the same time SLIM carries out training programs for marketing teams of the largest multinational corporations in Sri Lanka. Therefore, SLIM has influenced and contributed to the development of every level of society. Q: What plans do you have for SLIM during your presidency? A: The tenure of the President is one year, but the plans that we formulate and the ultimate objectives usually set for three to five years. In that sense I am merely a cog in the wheel of a much larger plan and may simultaneously be the President in the second year of a three year plan or the President in the fourth year of a five year plan. I would say our broad plans include anything and everything from upgrading our head office to gaining international recognition for SLIM. More specifically, over the coming months I hope to establish strong ties with national marketing bodies in other countries and elevate SLIM Brand Excellence Awards to a level where it has the participation of foreign companies. On the education front, I plan to make our educational services portfolio available island wide. One phase of this plan will involve the utilisation of distance learning technology to enable students to follow courses from the comfort of their homes. Finally, I feel there is potential for more women to be involved with SLIM on a professional level. Therefore, strategies to increase female representation are also being considered.