Life of a JKHMT

In 2018, I graduated from the University of Kelaniya with a degree in marketing management, earning the highest GPA in the Faculty of Commerce and Management. In addition, I received the 2018 Best Achiever Award and the Best Marketing Student Award. As for extracurricular activities, I have gained colors at the University for Swimming, Badminton, Athletics, and Netball while also winning inter-university prizes for Swimming, Badminton, and Athletics during my University period. During the Colours Awards 2015/2016, I was named “Best All-Round Sports Person of the Year 2015/2016.” I also completed CIMA in the year 2017.

In my experience as a JKHMT, I gained practical experience working with 6 Business Units and 2 Center Functions over the course of 15 months on various initiatives that exposed me to Marketing, Operations, HR, and Logistics.

At Group HR I assisted the team in reviewing the FastTrack programme and considering any enhancements that might be achievable through interviews with various project stakeholders. The key objectives of the project at CCS included producing a list of product concepts that are more suitable to be released in Sri Lanka based on the new manufacturing capabilities and developing a database of current goods, formats, and taste developments across the regions. This evolved around identifying the key consumer trends and market insights across the identified countries with regard to frozen confectionary.

At John Keells PLC I worked on the automation of the tea warehouse and the online tea auction, in an effort to increase efficiency by soliciting input from all parties engaged in the process, including the bulk tea purchasers, tea brokers, and the plantations. In addition, the topic of increasing John Keells PLC’s visibility and developing its brand perception was discussed. On this trip, I also had the opportunity to attend tea auctions and factory tours in the hill area.

At Union Assurance (UA), I was able to gain experience on three projects, namely: Bancassurance, where I worked with the Union Assurance (UA) team to make improvements to the operations and train the team on the Bancassurance online processes; GOYO Activations, where I collaborated with the SAGT team to register team members, monitor their performance, and make customer-friendliness and awareness-building changes to the application so that the business could track the GOYO; and SAGT. The most recent project was Union Brainwave in 2018, which gave team members a chance to share creative ideas that may be used by the business, and I gained valuable practical experience in executing the project.

I had the opportunity to work with Walkers Tours to conduct a competitor analysis on the B2B and B2C segments, examining statistics and qualitative elements through team member interviews. Analyzing company overview, target markets, market share, competitive advantage, marketing strategies, and products and services helped in identifying where each of these competitors has positioned themselves in terms of visibility and communication channels. A full package for New Zealand customers was also developed looking at the customer profile, segmentation, and their aspirations with an approximate cost for the tour.

My stint at JKLL involved an interesting project which was to conduct a study on cold storage that covered topics like the different types of temperature controls and the types of goods that should be kept at the same temperature, as well as different transportation needs, value-added services, competitors, and potential customers. A list of regulations and packaging of products and local best practices were touched upon during this project.

By its very nature, the Group Business Process Review (GBPR) project was focused on process improvement. It focused on sales and redemption of gift vouchers as well as bill refundable processes, with the goal of identifying process improvements for JMSL’s gift voucher and bill refundable processes and the impact of process improvements on the company.

The Last stint was at JMSL, where we were responsible for making sure we met our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and became a Retailer of Choice, developing a proposition by focusing on the employee pillar of our brand house, understanding the employee point of view, and keeping our promises to our team members to advance the brand’s primary objective.

Soon after the MT programme, I joined Keells as an Assistant Manager – Employee Value Proposition in delivering the promises to our team members that have been set within the brand. My work involved creating a great place to work for team members so that they could drive the purpose of the brand. Keells was the first supermarket brand to commit to reducing plastics, and concurrently I was assigned to a customer plans project on “Reducing the impact on the environment.” Working as the project manager on sustainability helped me understand the practical challenges, change the mindset of the business stakeholders, and inspire passion for the goals we were pursuing. After months of planning, Keells made a commitment to reduce plastic waste in 2018. As a team, we altered the way we worked by raising awareness among our team members and spreading our best practices to our customers. In May 2018, I joined the Marketing Team as the Assistant Brand Manager and now have the responsibility of delivering the brand promise to our customers ensuring that we as the Keells team drive our core purpose of improving the quality of life for the nation. Working with cross-functional teams, helped me in understanding the importance of driving the brand with brand guardianship & governance. My areas of experience over the past few years have included working with the store design team, Keells branded product packaging, generating customer insight into the business, and executing community and sustainability projects.

Driving the Community & Sustainability Programmes at Keells were some of the intriguing projects I was a part of in terms of giving back to the communities. At the John Keells Group Chairman’s awards – the highest internal recognition one can earn, Keells won the Special Award for Sustainability Initiative in the year 2020 and 2021, for plastic reduction and for the “No Food Waste” initiatives respectively. I also worked on the Keells – Help Fight Hunger project, the Keells Iconic launch, and the Keells Distribution Center launch.

All the above projects that were mentioned, helped me recognize my strengths and weaknesses. Especially on the Community & Sustainability efforts drove my attention in terms of giving back to the environment and society where each of these projects helped me in understanding that a small change can make a big difference in another person’s life. Keells – Help Fight Hunger was not an easy project as it was launched during a time when the country was facing an economic crisis, fuel shortages, and many issues with the availability of products. However, as a team, all of us went the extra mile to help one another in delivering this project. This project is still an ongoing project where we were able to support over 11,500 families across Sri Lanka.

I have developed my skills working with numerous BU’s and cross-functional teams at Keells throughout the years. The core skills of Keells guided us in the right direction in making decisions even though it was the most challenging task. Working for the Group involves more than just working because it also supports sports. I have been able to represent the John Keells Group in Badminton, Netball, and Swimming during the last few years and meeting new colleagues has always been interesting and fun. Being the coordinator for the Netball team of the Group is another opportunity I received to recognize the new talented players and give them the due recognition. Even though we were not able to win in Mercantile Netball Tournament in the year 2019, the Group participated in Mercantile Netball Tournament for the first time and our journey will continue as we recognize the talented players of the Group.