Hasanga Jayaratne, an alumnus of the leading Colombo International School is now following his father’s footsteps and improvising bold decisions as the Group Director of the renowned Jayaratne Group of Companies.
Starting with a Bachelors in Engineering and Business Management in 2010, he then graduated with an MSc in Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2014 from the prestigious University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Ever since he joined his family business back in 2015, Hasanga has been able to contribute and be involved in a wide range of decisions such as implementing novel innovations and remodeling the brand outlook.
According to Hasanga, being a successful entrepreneur requires a lot of hard work and determination. He goes on to discuss the importance of integrity in accepting mistakes and rectifying them whenever needed. A strong team alongside holistic leading skills can benefit industrialists in the longer run. He also believes that over-planning can be a hassle or havoc to entrepreneurship. “We shouldn’t take too many opinions. Some are scared, some too optimistic. Do not depend on people. If you believe in it, do it!” stated Hasanga when describing the responsibilities of a true entrepreneur. He also continued to say “Not everyone is a risk-taker, not everyone is an entrepreneur”. Instead, leading with an open mind, seizing opportunities, and making utmost use of it is Hasanga’s perspective on being successful.
Endeavoring the family business has its hardships too. After experiencing the Western taste of business, Hasanga sees a distinct contrast in the way business is handled in Sri Lanka. He describes it to be ‘traditional and some ways backward’. The lack of appropriate procedures and minimal use of IT & technology were a few noticeable concerns. He also witnessed resistance and an inflexible mindset portrayed among the staff members which made it a tough role to handle.
Making new decisions in the company was challenging for Hasanga too. However, time has improved and supported Hasanga in incorporating novel ideas into the existing business structure. They managed to introduce new concepts, like the launch of THE RESTPECT. Unlike in other countries overseas where funeral directing is considered much esteemed, in Sri Lanka, there isn’t a high opinion about it. Hence, to change the general perspective on funerals and ‘funeral companies’, the Jayaratne Group of Companies modeled THE RESPECT into their working strategies. This initiative has helped them express the true values and commitments of their company. Hasanga believes that funerals do not have to be ‘sad and depressing. The loss of a loved one can make a massive impact on individuals and can also be traumatic. THE RESTPECT helps clients spend their last few hours with their loved ones, free from the burden of arrangements and endless procedures. Jayaratne Companies is now an all-inclusive one-stop-shop that accompanies their customers throughout the funeral service, from managing minor details like flower arrangements to the final events like burials and cremation. Hasanga believes that this approach towards funerals is nowhere to be seen in the country or among the entire South East Asia, and can pave paths to opening new branches soon.
Having an industry leader within the family can be of great advantage. Hasanga is constantly surrounded with priceless advice and guidance whenever needed. His father’s remarkable history from the time he took over (from his father), developing the business and implementing innovations has continuously proven the evolution of the company. From introducing VIP services in the early 2000s to simply maintaining good customer services, the company has progressed into a complete business advancement over time. This, as Hasanga states, has eventually accelerated other competing companies to boost their services.
Hasanga has grasped the pure workmanship portrayed by his father. “Good and respected brands are not easily built,” he says when discussing the importance of good service. Building trust within the customer base, maintaining a brand name, and earning the right reputation are few things he acquired working with his father. He further continued “It takes so many years to build a brand, but a few minutes to ruin it. My father maintained a good brand for many years. People come to us for our Brand”.
Proud of the pioneering individual his father is, Hasanga is assured that he can trust his father with any issue pertaining to the business. Although minor conflicts may arise between his father’s traditional thinking patterns and Hasanga’s entrepreneurial planning strategies, they manage to work through them. Working alongside his father for a while now, he appreciates and admires his father’s bond with their employees. “You can’t go anywhere if you don’t look after the employees,” he said firmly when reasoning the employees trust bestowed towards the company.
Apart from the family business, Hasanga has recently revolved towards a new venture dealing with the import of quality Pet products. Taking his father’s advice to diversify in all possible means, Hasanga has stepped into this completely new industry to cater to the endless demands of pet owners. Personally experiencing the burdens in weighing the quality against the price tag when purchasing pet products, Hasanga decided to start his own product line like never before within Sri Lanka. He teamed up with an old school friend and a German investor to import pet products like pet food, accessories, supplements, and treats for pets. Incorporating supplies from Germany and other parts of Europe leaves the customer with no doubt about the quality.
In the future, Hasanga hopes to expand his businesses all over the island and diversify into different sectors. He anticipates engaging in real estate in the future and making use of the perks in tourism. With his father’s guidance being a great asset to him, Hasanga looks forward to making Jayaratne Companies an epitome in the industry.