Envisioning the Future – Pradeep & Manik Amirthanayagam

Many believe that families tend to split up when running a family business. However, Pradeep Amirthanayagam and his son Manik have a different perspective. They believe that family is what drives the success of Holmes Pollard & Stott. Pradeep is the Chairman and Managing Director of the 30-year-old Agency, while Manik is its General Manager. Holmes Pollard & Stott is an award-winning Advertising Agency with a strong portfolio of clients drawn from across the corporate spectrum.

Pradeep – with a career spanning 35 years in the industry – is the main force that drives the Agency forward. Respected for his business acumen, he is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK) and an Associate of Trinity College London (UK). He has served as a Director of the 4As (Accredited Advertising Agencies Association). He was also active in the Rotary movement, becoming the 50th President of the Rotary Club of Colombo West, and being awarded Rotarian of the Year 2012.

Pradeep is also a Media icon, and presented the news on both state TV and radio. He was an interviewer and cricket commentator. He also has the distinction of having been trained at Bush House – the headquarters of the BBC in London – and was a CNN correspondent for Sri Lanka.

The eldest son of Pradeep, Manik brings dynamism into all aspects of operation. He plays a vital role in the Agency’s creative strategy and future direction. He also works closely with the client service, media and production teams. He aims to offer clients the most effective solutions in an industry that is constantly evolving. He sees innovation as the key to the industry’s future outlook.

Manik has valuable exposure to the global Ad scene as he regularly attends international Ad festivals. He has also successfully completed several globally-reputed Advertising programs ranging from Cannes Lions to Ogilvy Consulting UK, Ascential and WARC (World Advertising Research Center). These have given him valuable insights into how the Agency can move forward.

Manik believes in unleashing the full potential of clients. His hands-on approach to every campaign undertaken ensures its success. He has honed his strategic skills over the years, and has a good understanding of what makes brands work.

Describing what it’s like to work with family, Pradeep stated that ‘family at home’ and ‘family at office’ should be differentiated, and clear lines of communication should be maintained so that the relationship doesn’t suffer in any way. “I’m quite aware of what I should do to ensure family harmony as I have seen families split up in family businesses.”

When questioned about the same matter, Manik replied, “Though people assume that it’s easy to work for family, this isn’t quite the case. In fact, it is often more challenging as one needs to balance the personal relationship with professional responsibilities. As the son of a father who has achieved much in the fields of Media and Advertising, I find that the bar is set high. However, I strive to carve my own path and pursue my own identity.”

Pradeep stressed the importance of maintaining a healthy professional and personal relationship. He said, “I believe that once you leave office, work shouldn’t be discussed. Official matters should be discussed in office and the work done accordingly, and at home a normal family relationship should be maintained.”

Manik stated that all relationships – personal and professional – are built upon clear communication. “That is all that matters.”

According to Pradeep, the agency has benefitted from Manik’s entry to the business. He said, “Manik has been able to break through some of the old ways of doing things. He has brought fresh perspectives to the business. He has also made sure that the company spends time and resources on Digital Advertising. He believes in leveraging digital advances towards his strategic creativity.”

Manik added that they have created a synergy that works; this combines experience with youth, tradition with new perspectives, and prudence with innovative strategy. “These I believe are the ideal mix for any great partnership.”

Pradeep stated that a valuable lesson he learnt from his son was the urgency to get things done without delay. He added that being around children inspires and makes him want to do better. Manik too has learnt valuable lessons from his father: “His qualities that have influenced me the most are patience and diplomacy. I have learnt that these two traits are imperative to successfully manage people.”

Every organization has its strengths and weaknesses. Both father and son asserted that Holmes Pollard & Stott’s greatest strength is its people.

“We are now 30-years-old, and have at least five employees who have been with us for 25 years,” Pradeep said. “They are loyal and hardworking, and they breed the organization. They ensure that newcomers are nurtured and given every opportunity to grow.”

He added that the Agency also sends people overseas to allow them to be exposed to what’s happening in the world. “At least three employees are sent for international training, because we feel that they need to be kept up to date – they need to sharpen their skills and be aware of what’s happening in the industry.” 

Manik described their people as the greatest asset. He stated, “We are made-up of a truly diverse team whose creative ideas, when bounced off each other, result in something unique.”

With regard to the future of Media and Advertising agencies in Sri Lanka, Pradeep said that the future is uncertain due to the prevailing situation. He, however, stressed that if the industry stands united, all could succeed and prosper.

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