Exploring the diverse avenues of marketing and showcasing the benefits of the trade, Nuwan Gamage, the President of Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing (SLIM), shares his story of success, embracing the peaks and valleys of the journey.
Having been originally from the Matara District, Nuwan was brought up in a close-knitted family with his sister. Right after his higher education, Nuwan accepted a temporary job in a small advertising agency, before cultivating his new-found interest in marketing and design trade. Intrigued by the possibilities of it, Nuwan approached his first marketing qualification at the University of Sri Jayawradanapuara; a Diploma in Marketing. Fueling his motivation towards the marketing field, he states, “I then obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing and a Master of Business Administration, and now I’m successfully reading for my PhD at the University of Colombo”.
Growing his years of experiences, Nuwan states, “I possess over 20 years of experience, working in a plethora of fields, including infrastructure development, cosmetics, beauty, fashion, and education. My skills have diversified over the years from strategic marketing, brand management, digital marketing, international marketing to corporate communication, and sustainability development”. Nuwan currently holds the position of Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications, at Arinma Holdings. He also functions as a Board Member of Sri Lanka Rupawahini Corporation while balancing the paternal role for two sons.
Elaborating on his role at SLIM, Nuwan states, “The SLIM is a pinnacle body representing the Sri Lankan Marketers, since its initiation in 1970, incorporated by an act of Parliament in 1980. This was recognized as the National Body for Marketing and a & not-for-profit organisation”.
Mandated over the responsibility to uplift the marketing professions in Sri Lanka, SLIM catered to the academical aspects and to events and projects at a national level. Governed by the Council of Management, SLIM aligns with an Executive Committee headed by a President, comprising professionals from numerous industries under an honorary capacity. Taking pride in the annual events help with the ravishing popularity among the Sri Lankan corporates, “SLIM events entails a long vision of leading the nation’s efforts towards economic prosperity, and a mission of establishing marketing as the driving force, enhancing business and its national value”.
Nuwan adds, “SLIM operates under three pillars: the education arm; the secretariat (the membership service); and the SLIM Research Bureau ”. Possessing a strong academic-supporting culture, SLIM believes that education must be future-proof, benefiting one’s life decisions in the future. “Proper knowledge, training, and skills are vital to stabilising the future of the country”, he says, encouraging students to endure stable learning. Students must have adaptable attitudes that enhance their confidence, while ensuring personal development of skills. Under SLIM’s education banner, we offer 6 different marketing related professional courses targeting students with O/Ls and A/Ls qualifications. SLIM offers a UK MAB in Marketing within 3 year. ”
Under the secretariat arm, Nuwan claims the possibility of marketing professionals in securing a membership from SLIM within any of the 5 different membership categories, supporting the development of the marketing fraternity in Sri Lanka. He also highlights the 5 prominent National award ceremonies; Brand Excellence, People’s Awards, NASCO, Effies, and Digis, alongside the SME awards, that is yet to be introduced to the SLIM awards portfolio. “I firmly believe that research and advocacy on a national level will greatly contribute to the development of a knowledge-driven economy. SLIM is engaging in public policy development and strategy formulation and research for Ministries and public enterprises will greatly enhance the country’s economic stability. ”
Emphasising on the third pillar, Slim Research Bureau (SRB), Nuwan explains, “It takes 2 approaches; academic research and industry research.” Academic Research aims at publishing research articles and honouring researchers at the SLIM Research Conference, while catering to the industry research and periodical publication on marketing and consumer trends in the market.
Addressing the startup culture, Nuwan states “The global start-up percentage has decreased due to the lack of understanding the business scope and the financial instability. Massive numbers of start-ups initiated during the pandemic, and digital transformation has also boosted tech start-ups. The new generations, the millennials and Generation Z too show fine interest in start-ups. This can be an added value as they are quite pristine with problem solving and in identifying the gap in the market. This mentality must be continuously reinforced”.
Nuwan abides by the notion of developing a start-up ecosystem in Sri Lanka. The act of coaching, mentoring and encouraging at a strategic level must be given prominence in order to gain professional stability. He comments, “From my personal experience, most small and medium enterprises are struggling to grow beyond some point. They stagnate at a certain level.” He also believes that professional consultancy can help young entrepreneurs educate themselves in the business world. Nuwan continues, “SLIM will start its Start-up Incubator, providing mentoring, consultancy, and even investments among like-minded investors engaging in startups”, as SLIM stands for strengthening the start-up culture during times of economic recession.
Being a developed institution, SLIM aims to support the current economic crisis by following their mission, `To Establish Marketing as the Driving Force Which Enhances Business and National Value’. Nuwan thinks that Sri Lankan must opt for a collaborative approach to tackle the Sri Lankan Market successfully, while increasing the revenue through multiple streams, regardless of it being foreign direct investment, tourism, logistics, manufacturing, services, etc.
Nuwan also states, “We must encourage global giants to invest in large-scale assembling plants in Sri Lanka where they can utilise our skilled, yet cost-effective labour force, thereby making the country a hub that can challenge regional players in this space”. He also urges our government policy framework and procedures to be more transparent and user-friendly, especially when dealing with Economics, Financial and National Planning concepts.
As a nationally recognized body SLIM facilitates this notion by working with some of the government agencies and a set of reputed marketers in Sri Lanka, while developing a blueprint, to position Sri Lanka as an ideal place to travel, invest, and live! Although knowing that this will take an extensive period of 10 to 15 years, Nuwan affirms that SLIM will be continuously facilitating this! Given the current changes in the economics and the constant change in environment, Nuwan encourages creativity to take over and move towards the circular economy. He also encourages the younger generation to dream about your passion, “practising your dreams will send signals to your subconscious mind, driving you towards your goals. Lord Buddha says, the mind is everything. Your thinking aligns with your actions. Therefore, think of your goals, upgrade yourself, but never compare yourself to anyone!”.