Named one of the 50 Most Influential Marketing Leaders at the World Marketing Congress in 2015, Sharmila Arasaratnam is a professional with a passion for what she does and has undoubtedly made her mark in the industry. She is the Director Marketing at Gamma PizzaKraft Lanka – the sole franchise for Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in Sri Lanka. Moreover, she handles the Marketing for Pizza Hut and KFC in the Maldives.
A past pupil of Ladies College Colombo, she went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree (BSC) from the University of London and Masters (MBA) from Edith Cowan University in Australia. She is a Chartered Marketer and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Launched in March 2011 by Women In Management, ‘The Professional & Career Women Awards’ saw inspirational business and career women honoured for the roles they have played in their industries, along with Sri Lankan corporates which have supported the growth and empowerment of women in the workplace.
Sharmila was recognised at the Professional and Career Women Awards as one of Sri Lanka’s Top 50 Women for 2020 by Women in Management (WIM)- Sri Lanka/ Maldives, IFC and Australian Aid for the contribution made in the field of Marketing and Advertising.
In a message to corporate young females, Sharmila urged them to think of themselves as a product under development.
“Build your brand and create a strong product. Think of ‘yourself’ as a product that you are developing and marketing. Acquire as much knowledge as possible which will result in making your product, which is you, more valuable. Work tirelessly to promote it and maintain its values.”
Furthermore, she stated that she hopes for a society in which all women, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, income level or social status, are nurtured, empowered and equipped to fulfill their unique purpose and reach their fullest potential.
Speaking about how the Food and Beverage industry has been placed at present, Sharmila mentioned that it has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She explained: “Many restaurants, and food outlets were forced to close during the peak of the pandemic, and it’s still a challenge to get back to pre covid customer traffic and sales. Many customers still remain reluctant to dine out and prefer to order in.
Significant decreases in disposable income and product availability have forced consumers to adjust their purchasing habits. Brand trust, value for money, and accessibility have become key features.”
Expounding the emerging trends in the Food and Beverage industry, Sharmila stated, “As with essentially every industry, the food and beverage industry trends have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Safety concerns have rapidly shifted consumer shopping trends towards e-commerce. Thus, being able to offer a contactless experience, home delivery, curbside pick-up etc. are some of the features that have helped the industry sustain itself.
“In terms of the fast food industry itself the biggest shift is the push for healthier food. Many people are trying to take control of their eating habits and want their favorite restaurants to follow suit. Consumers are now more concerned about the nutritional aspects of their food, calorie-wise, but they also care about where it came from and how it was treated and processed.”