Sri Lanka’s Nandana Wickremage collected the top individual award at the 20th World Brand Congress that was concluded recently.
The WBC is the single largest collection of Marketing Professionals, coming together to share experiences and teaching and to select the few who have made their mark in the world of Brands that are some of the most successful and sought after internationally. With Sales and Marketing professionals from a hundred countries the World Brand Congress is the largest international forum of its kind.
Striding into this arena was Sri Lankan’s own Nandana Wickremage.
Nandana is a well-known local marketer who has strings of successes under his belt. An old boy of Trinity College Kandy, where he, like all youths, dreamed of Olympic Gold. An injury cut short his career as an athlete and boxer where he won both College and public school colours.
Always a sales and marketing man, Nandana has had a unique journey to the top of his field, not only for having started at the bottom, but also for always being involved in taking the Brands he worked on to the top of their category – no matter what the brands were. His has launched and made market leader everything from processed meats to biscuits to chocolates to cakes to soya to PVC Pipes to a supermarket chain.
His latest achievement The Outstanding Marketing Professional Of The Year Award, the highest individual accolade at the WBC, was for his strategic and practical approach to marketing during his 30 year career that had contributed in turning around brands under his preview taking them to leadership position
Nandana’s success comes from the deep understanding of the Sri Lankan consumer. He knows what we feel and what we think. He knows what touches us and what doesn’t. And as a parent, he knows how to target the youth of the country too. After all, four of the top twenty songs in the Sri Lankan music .lk charts last month, including number 1,2, and 4 were all penned by Nandana.
His knowledge of us Sri Lankans comes from his hands on experience. This has helped him to be a very successful songwriter too as he touches the hearts of the masses with his words . Nandana has written no less than 250 songs over the years, with numerous chart toppers and movie hits too. Naturally, this talent has boosted his ability to relate to Sri Lankans from all walks of life – and the experiences gleaned as a songwriter has strengthened his professional standing by giving him a deeper understanding of the Sri Lankan mind than most.
Nandana is a firm believer in being uniquely Sri Lankan. While he is an avid student of Sales and Marketing, he says he came to realize early on in his career that what works in the West, doesn’t necessarily work in the East and vice versa. Hence, he started looking at marketing and sales principles of the great marketing gurus and started giving those principles a Sri Lankan twist, to make them more relevant to our consumers and target audiences. This approach has paid off and, judging by the number of Nandana’s successes, has paid off well.
The truly remarkable thing about Nandana’s success is the way in which he has changed the way markets behaved. A supermarket is seen as a niche up-market entity? Not any more, thanks to him. Processed meats alien to our culture? Not any more – again thanks to Nandana. How about the good old days when we used to have soft drinks out of a glass bottle at home? Nandana introduced us to the “ Mega” PET bottle and that’s become the norm these days… The brand name Mega coined by him for Pepsi has today become a generic name. Amazing, when you think about it.
The experiences that Nandana has, he knows he can’t share – but he goes out of his way to share the knowledge these experiences have taught him. A Professional Trainer both at home and abroad, Nandana teaches his pupils ‘The Practical Approach’. Specifically, he teaches Leadership, Motivation and Presentation Skills – areas where there are few, if any, who come up to his high standard. Nandana also makes it a point to train everyone who works with him. Many of the people trained by him hold top positions in blue chip entities across the country.
But yet, for him, it is all about knowing what needs to be done, and then knowing how to do it. The two things that his experiences have thought him to do excellently as his track record proves.
A quiet, soft-spoken man, Nandana comes alive on a stage. When it comes to motivating a thousand dealers, distributors and Sales and Marketing personalities whom he calls the Excellent Force, very few, if any, can match Nandana. His presentations are entertaining, informative and slick. He can make a room full of people cry, laugh, yell for joy and go out and make a sale, as easily as you may eat a cracker! His presentation skills have been honed over the years to become a precision tool and this, together with his ability to keep his messages simple and concise, leads to his ability to motivate people immensely. An essential trait when you’re dealing with the cut and thrust field that is FMCG.
Nandana leads from the front. He would rather teach consumers what they want and what is good for them than wait for them to discover it for themselves. This is why he constantly pushes for new products, unique products and when he gets them, sends his army of sales people to support them. Each and every product
is also supported by its own communication that creates its own identity in the market place. No wonder then that Nandana leads the country’s largest and most successful sales and marketing team.
His quest for being different has also led the company he is presently at to do truly ground breaking things in the CSR segment. Where others may be satisfied in helping one or two institutions in an area, Nandana’s CSR efforts see whole areas helped by the company and its people. In fact, the company has been internationally recognized for its efforts in this area too.
Nandana’s leadership has seen him and his team pick up virtually every major award in Sri Lanka, in the field of brand marketing. This year alone, the company walked away with 12 awards from 4 different award ceremonies. In all, Nandana and his team have won over 60 awards over a 7 year period. An achievement few other companies can match.
It is these efforts that have seen Nandana achieve the global award of Outstanding Marketing Professional Of The Year. Dave Porter global chairman of CMO council of USA and World Brand Congress says “Nandana is an extremely talented professional. His resourceful insights and in-depth knowledge on branding has made brands under his purview brands to reckon with. His efforts in promoting brands is commendable.”
Nandana is the very first Sri Lankan to get this prestigious Global award. Not only does it do him, as an individual, proud, but it also does Sri Lanka – and every Sri Lankan – proud too. Nandana says he has shown us the way – and he would be the happiest when other Sri Lankans follow in his footsteps, because that is the type of person he is.
It is also noteworthy that Nandana has been selected to be on the advisory council of the World Brand Congress. Yet another honour both for him and our country.
When asked what his next goal is, Nandana’s reply is simple and straight. “To take a local brand and make it an international giant”. As with all simple things, they turn out to be the hardest to do – but if it is what Nandana Wickremage has planed, you can rest assured it will happen. And soon.