A proud Sri Lankan at heart and a humble and dedicated marketer Nandana A. Wickramage Group Director/Head of Marketing and Sales, Ceylon Biscuits Limited (CBL) was awarded the ‘Marketing Professional of the Year’ at the recently-concluded second CMO Asia Awards 2011 in Singapore.
This was the second international award he has received in his illustrious career as a professional marketer. Having won the ‘Global Brand Leadership Award’ for 2010 at the World Bank Congress, Mumbai, India, he said: “I am proud of bringing glory and recognition to Sri Lanka.”
The CMO Asia Awards are the first of its kind to recognise organisations, chief marketing officers and professionals who have shown leadership skills with consistent results.
The Jury for the Awards selected from 52 countries across Asia comprises of respected professionals in marketing, human resources, branding, advertising, public relations, brand strategy, education and corporate communications.
Educated at Trinity College, Nandana Wickramage was an accomplished athlete and a boxer who made it to the national team with a vision to bring glory to his country at the Olympics.
Unfortunately his dreams were shattered when he suffered a head injury which put a stop to his career in sports. With simple belief and sheer dedication that he could rise to the top, Nandana began his professional career as a trainee sales representative at Hideki.
Relating his humble beginnings, Nandana stated that his career took a turning point when he joined John Keells as the first and only retail sales representative for its new venture in processed meat products.
“I was the first and only sales representative recruited to do retail sales for the brand Atlas. I worked alone covering the whole country and initiated the brand name change to Keells Food Products from Atlas.”
The experience at John Keells opened new avenues for Nandana; he was promoted as the Retails Sales Manager, through which he extensively began to accumulate experience in handling, selling, recruiting and training fellow sales representatives.
After his time at John Keells, Nandana joined Aminas International which gave him the opportunity to handle his first multinational FMCG brand ‘Meadow Lea’.
Within a short period Nandana was able to ensure that the brand was the market leader in polyunsaturated margarine.
He later joined the Maharaja Organisation where he took up the challenge risking his career to revive the loss-making brand S-lon, which was on the verge of being sold due to heavy losses.
The experience at Maharajas gave him hands-on experience in TV commercials, script writing and even shooting commercials.
With a simple market strategy of providing the consumer with the correct information, Nandana was able to make S-lon the market leader with a 65% market share within three years. Having left the Maharaja Organisation for better prospects at Cargills as the Group Head for Marketing and Sales, Nandana was involved in the re-launch of Food City and Cargills Quality Foods.
Continuing his success in transforming brands to profit making products, Nandana joined CBL as Head of Marketing and Sales in 2000.
He was soon able to make a great impact in the organisation’s products and transform them to market leaders.
“We were able to transform Munchee Biscuits, which were below 30% market share to over 60% market share and Ritzbury chocolates from 8% market share to market leader with 47% market share.” Nandana also stated that they were able to drive Lankasoy, Samaposha and Tiara to market leaders in their respective categories.
Nandana was thankful to everyone at CBL. “My success at CBL is because of the support that I get from everyone in this organisation from the directors to the members of my team; it is they who motivate and get the best out of me.”
Nandana’s contribution and the success of CBL were further reflected as Munchee, Ritzbury, Tiara and Lankasoy were awarded Brand Excellence Award in the Beverages/Diary Products & Confectionary Snacks category at the CMO Asia Awards 2011.
Nandana also mentioned that ‘Munchee,’ the flagship brand of CBL, received two very special awards at this same forum in Singapore, which are ‘Best CSR Practices in Asia’ and ‘Asia’s Best Employer Brand’.
This is a testimony to the company’s commitment to its purpose.
Today Wickramage is one of the most successful marketers in the country. He is renowned for his ability to turn around brands and drive them to market leadership in their respective categories.
His continuing success in this highly-challenging task proves the efficiency of his practical and creative approach to strategic planning and brand building.
“To become a successful marketer, one needs to be honest to himself, his organisation and most importantly to his consumer.
Unethical practices will never lead to long-term success,” he asserted.