Inura Jayasuriya is currently the Marketing Manager for Redbull (Sri Lanka) – arguably one of the most iconic beverages in the world. He spent his formative years as a child growing up in and around the Sri Lankan Airforce camps- an unparalleled, quirky, and thrilling childhood backdrop that most military brats can relate to. A proud alumnus of the historic Royal College, Colombo, Inura had the privilege of completing his primary and secondary education there and firmly believes his alma mater taught him a lot more beyond the scope of conventional education.
Married for almost two years now, Inura describes himself as a (calculated) risk-taker – (mostly) and an opinionated thrill seeker. While the start of his dynamic career is rather ambiguous, he recalls two prominent jobs at the outset – as a TV presenter and as a legal intern. At 17 years old, Inura was presenting sports news on national TV for the Sri Lankan Rupavahini Corporation, earning a grand salary of 300 rupees per newscast. He pursued this career for over 12 years and decided to disassociate from any particular TV station, venturing as a free-lance compare and voice artist – a side hustle he continues to date. Presently, Inura is also an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
Guided by his dream to practice law, Inura enrolled at the Royal Institute of Colombo and earned his bachelor’s degree in law, awarded by the University of London, England. Upon completing a brief legal internship at John Keells Holdings, Inura joined Unilever Sri Lanka through its internship program and was selected as a Management Trainee in Human Resources – a natural fit, given his law degree. Joining Unilever completely changed his vision of becoming a lawyer; he recognized his affinity to succeed in the corporate world and soon became the HR Business Partner for Marketing at Unilever – surely leading him to the position he holds today.
Enamored by the wonder of marketing, the thrill of the chase, and the competitive nature of the field, Inura moved from HR into marketing. Emboldened by the confidence placed in him by the two former Directors of Marketing at Unilever, Sharmila Bandara, and Makshoodh Meerasaibu, he took the reins of the iconic soap bar – Lux. He handled the billionaire brand for close to 3 years, winning the Silver Award at Brand Excellence; the brands’ growth with his contribution is indisputable and his success with Unilever didn’t go unnoticed. Inura was approached by a head-hunter to head the marketing team of Red Bull Sri Lanka – A brand he is genuinely passionate about and his words, “a brand which spoke so closely to my heart with its professional but anti-authoritarian, loves life, on the edge, and innovative attitude.”.
Despising conformity and intrigued by simplicity; his advice for young professionals is to keep it simple. “Absolutely simplify everything you ought to do, complicated isn’t always the best solution. Jump at opportunities; try, fail, burn, succeed, thrive, but all the same, give it only your best shot. Also, society doesn’t always know what is right. Don’t shy away from being different.” He said. Entering the workforce at a very young age, enabled him to cover a few bills with extra pocket change to boot and he is very proud to have secured such an agency as a youngster. He is also appreciative of the diversity of his career portfolio: starting from a legal background, moving through HR, and finally finding his place in marketing, where he feels at home.
Over the last 3 years Inura has experienced significant milestones as the Marketing Manager for Red Bull, recalling an especially prodigious moment where they partnered with Chamari Atapattu, Sri Lanka’s National Women’s Cricket Captain and Red Bull Athlete, to launch the initiative of #BigGirlsCan to give wings to the aspirations of young sportswomen; a campaign that instigated a shift in the stagnant social thinking; spearheaded by the creative agency Magic Mango, he went on to say this was one of his favorite projects to date. Further, he mentioned Unilever brands such as Dove and Sunlight for executing remarkable campaigns year on year, “One great campaign in Sri Lankan history, in my opinion, would definitely be ‘Sinaha Boweva’ from Signal, where a change in habit and societal awareness was truly created. Brands with purpose or brands which give wings to ideas and people are the ones who will stand the test of time and change in economies.” he elaborated. When asked where Inura draws inspiration from, he said, “I find inspiration in many forms and places. Sometimes, it can simply be something that someone says in a random conversation- an epiphany when you’re just talking to family or friends, or even something from a movie or a TV series even for instance, or something you just read somewhere. I am inspired by people who have truly brought about real change in society. Change, of course, can be positive or negative in nature, and sometimes this too is based on the viewpoint.”
Talking about the pandemic, Inura said he now has a new appreciation for the simple things in life. When asked about its impact on the macro-environment, he said, “impact on the business environment has been drastic in certain instances, but on others, it may have even improved. This is not to say that there is a silver lining to every cloud, but to say that business growth can happen at either end of the pendulum swing. The pharmaceutical industry for instance would have certain levels of positive growth in a period such as this, while the food and beverage industry along with hospitality would have one of the toughest time periods. The challenges are many and varied, but the ones who adapt the fastest are the ones to come back to form the fastest as well. “ He went on to say that repercussions of the pandemic will be long-term, and its magnitude will depend largely on the decisions we take moving forward and how markets operate. “baby steps won’t be the approach, we need to start running even before we train to walk once again. we can only remain positive, and be prepared to adapt, adapt and adapt once again.” he added.
Finally, Inura concluded by appreciating his team at Red Bull Sri Lanka. Composed of only 9 members in management and 8 student ambassadors, the team is relatively smaller in comparison to other companies in the FMCG beverage market. “We have always been an agile and fast-paced team. In a lean organization structure, we have identified the philosophy that each team member performs a crucial and critical task which is time and target-driven” said Inura. He went on to say that adapting to the current ‘Work-From-Home’ culture was difficult at first, given the out-going nature of the brand and the team, but by adapting rapidly, playing it smart, and keeping the consumers constantly engaged while fostering a positive mindset through it all is what helps them persevere and thrive.
“The world will keep changing, your role isn’t to resist the change but to adapt with your ideals intact” – Inura Jayasuriya