Alumnus of British School, Colombo. BA (Hons) Business Management, Curtin University, Australia. Executive Director, Sumathi Holdings (PVT) Ltd.
Alumnus of Colombo International School. BA (Hons). Business, Accounting and Marketing, Monash University, Australia. Director, Business Strategies and Development, Sumathi Holdings (PVT) Ltd.
Share in a brief a summary of your professional journey?
- Chadu: (i) McDonalds, Australia. (ii) A Sports Management Company in Perth, Australia (Managed Events at Subiaco Oval, Australia and Claremont Show Grounds). (iii) Sumathi Holdings, Sri Lanka.
- Chathula: (i) Intern at Capital Trust Securities. (ii) Intern at Siyapath Finance. (iii) Management Trainee at Softlogic Holdings, including Asiri Hospitals. (iv) Sumathi Holdings, Sri Lanka.
How is it working with your father?
- Chadu: We immensely value our father’s presence and input in our work. It has been an amazing experience for us to work with him. We have two seats at his desk where he is always ready to answer any questions we may have. Every day, we are learning at his side although of course, his decades long experience in multiple industries cannot be learnt in a day or two. We do have our disagreements, naturally, but this stems from generational differences and the majority of the time, experience wins over new ideas which we bring to the table.
- Chathula: We were exposed to our family business from a young age, however entering it as adults has not only been an eye-opening experience but an incredibly humbling one. The company values that have been passed on over the years, from generation to generation of loyalty and integrity are ones that we will proudly continue to uphold. This is what we believe sets us apart; we have a significant number of staff that have been with the company for more than thirty years. The pride we feel in continuing as the third generation of this family business cannot be put into words. Our grandfather and fathers’ vision for the business is one we will continue to build upon, and introduce the latest innovations such as technology and new markets to expand the company’s reach. If between the two of us, we can accomplish even half of what they did, we will consider ourselves having achieved incredible things, not only for Sumathi Holdings, but for our family and the country as well.
Share with us a secret about your brother that no-one else knows?
- Chadu: My brother is a very capable and responsible young adult. He’s still the baby of the family. There is quite a big difference in how our mother treats him; like an absolute baby, and I think he secretively loves it!
- Chathula: My brother is a very responsible young man. He is very careful with his belongings, except of course when it comes to anything that belongs to me! Even when we were younger, my toys were used so carelessly and he would be extra careful with his toys! The only problem now is that our toy cars are much bigger!
Which sister are you closest to? Which brother-in-law are you closest to?
- Chadu: I would say I’m close to both sisters. Whenever, I find myself thrown in the deep-end without a paddle, that is when I know I can always depend on my eldest sister, Puthula, to come to my rescue; she’s one of the strongest women I know. Wagisha, has always been my guiding light when it comes to matters of the conscience and heart; she always has the best advice for what is right and wrong.
- Chathula: I would say I am very close with both my brother-in-law’s; I consider them my own brothers. Janaka Mayakaduwa is definitely the funny one and you can talk to him about anything and everything. Iruka Dedigama is the brother-in-law who’s always there for me, whether it’s for a casual chat or a serious conversation.
Do you have any business ventures with your sisters or your brother in laws?
- Chathula: No, currently we don’t have any joint ventures with them but we have spoken about various business opportunities that we would like to invest and collaborate on. In a family like ours, a lot of the dinner table conversations revolve around business and new ideas.
Which sibling is the real ‘Mama’s boy’?
- Chadu: Definitely Chathula! We both love and adore Ammi, and we definitely can't do what we do without her. She still calls every day to make sure we’ve eaten our meals. But the ‘Mama’s boy’ in the family is without a doubt, Chathula.
Do you both envision working together in the long run or would you prefer to build your own companies and brands separately?
- Chathula: Our entrepreneurial journey has just begun, and for now we are both keen to grow the family business together. Whatever the future may hold, our relationship as brothers and our strength as a family is the foundation of Sumathi Holdings. That will always be the case. We will grow and develop new verticals as we go on.
What are you most passionate about? Any Hobbies?
- Chadu: I have always loved technology and have been completely entrenched in the digital world from a young age. My parents always encouraged my curiosity in electronics, I was always gifted the newest gadgets. I used to dismantle computers and random electronic items to find out and understand the inner workings of it. Figuring out ways to infuse technology into our business has come very naturally to me and the digitization of our existing structures is my forte.
- Chathula: Basketball has been our game since school and I’m still trying to play it as much as I can. Like my brother though, we’ve been playing more online now than offline, although my primary interest is in strategy-based games such as chess. An interest in classic cars is also a hobby of mine, one I picked up from my father. I’m quite fortunate, I get to drive the Mercedes 1978 W123 coupe which my father drove to see my mum before they got married, and a1982 W126 which was their wedding car.
Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?
Chathula: As cliché as it may sound, my father; I cannot think of a better mentor. He’s a living example of an individual who has successfully managed to balance work, family and spiritual endeavors.
You both studied overseas, yet you returned back home to work. What made you come back to Sri Lanka?
- Chadu: We always knew we would complete our tertiary education overseas and would return back to the island. For us home is where the family lives, and hence we always knew we would gain global experience and return back home. We treasure our family history and we want to continue our legacy. We also didn’t want to contribute towards the brain-drain Sri Lanka has been experiencing for decades. Everything we have learnt and all that we are is because of this paradise island we are so blessed to call home, hence it’s our duty to come back and work and contribute towards the development of the country. Sumathi Holdings has over 1500 team-members in multiple industries, and we hope to grow this number further in order to retain as much qualified individuals as we can in the country. We want to create more opportunities for young Sri Lankans and we want to create more high-paying jobs in the country. We have a responsibility towards our country. We cannot abandon it.
What are the new and exciting projects we can look forward to seeing from the both of you’ll joining the family business?
- Chathula: We have initiated a couple of new projects which are in line with our core business but with a more modernized approach. Last year, we launched Sri Lanka’s first luxury sports lounge, The AllStar Sports Lounge. We have also launched our digital platform, Betss.com to take Sri Lanka to an international standard akin to top brands such as Ladbrokes and William Hill, to cater to the online segment of the sports entertainment industry. We are also in the process of introducing DJI Enterprise to the Sri Lankan market. DJI manufactures cutting edge drone solutions which globally assists the agriculture sector, construction industry and even facilitates the search and rescue efforts of the tri-forces.
(1) Favorite Netflix Genre:
- Chadu: Sci-Fi
- Chathula: Sci-Fi
(2) Favorite Holiday Destination
- Chathula: Japan
- Chadu: South Korea
(3) Favorite Restaurants in Colombo
- Chadu: Great Wall Restaurants and Kang’s Kitchen
- Chathula: Great Wall Restaurants and Isso
(4) Favorite Resort or Villa in Sri Lanka
- Chadu: 98 Acres, Ella
- Chathula: Clifftop Villa Vista, Mirissa
(5) Current Playlist (Song of the Week)
- Chadu: Bad Habits - Ed Sheeran
- Chathula: Till I Collapse - Eminem
(6) Must Watch Netflix Series for 2021
- Chadu: Startup
- Chathula: Real Talk
(7) Social Media - Yay or Nay?
- Chadu: Yay. We use social media to promote and grow our businesses.
- Chathula: Yay. I use it to keep up with friends, but I rarely post.
(8) New Skill Acquired During Lockdown
- Chadu: Keeping our nephews and niece entertained was by far the hardest part of lockdown!
- Chathula: Definitely keeping our nephews and niece entertained, as we couldn’t take them out of the house, we had to constantly keep finding new activities to do at home.