Fiona and Hasrath Munasinghe, the husband and wife duo have contributed immensely towards the success of their respective entities. Reaching the pinnacle in similar careers while enjoying a close bond in a marriage is rare but they have triumphantly climbed the corporate ladder together and gained a reputation as the ‘power couple; of the marketing sphere. Despite their busy schedule, we at ELEGANT were invited to capture a glimpse of their inspirational lives.
- Give us a brief description of your childhood
FIONA: I belong to a family of four with one elder sister. My mum is a housewife and my father was a business professional. Subsequently we grew to a larger family with the addition of three cousin sisters who joined our clan.
I schooled at Ladies’ College, Colombo and was heavily involved in extra- curricular activities such as drama, choir, girl guides and the SCM (Student Christian Movement).
HASRATH: I am the only child in the family, born to parents who were government servants. My childhood was excellent and I enjoyed every aspect of it with my friends. I studied at Royal College but was not too concerned about my studies as I paid more attention to sports and extra- curricular activities.
- What are your professional roles at present?
FIONA: I am currently the Director Marketing at Hemas FMCG Brands.
HASRATH: I started my career straight after leaving school at 19 years. Like Fiona I am a marketer by profession and possess 24 years of professional experience covering the fields of media, advertising, FMCG, Telecommunication and Banking. Currently I serve as the Deputy General Manager-Marketing of Commercial Bank.
- How does your respective careers’ contribute to your relationship; is it challenging, competitive, or mutually gratifying?
FIONA: We hardly discuss work. It is interesting that we work in the same field and often we are the only married couple at marketing events. It does get challenging at times as we are compelled to work late or attend events at the same time and get late going home to our four year-old son Tejan but we are very lucky to have a great family to support us.
HASRATH: Yes we hardly discuss work. Even if we do, it is more general topics centered upon the corporate and marketing world but it is not work related. Both being professionals is not easy at times because managing time, related to our professions and personal life is not easy. I generally divide my time on five areas – work, family, education, parents and ‘me’ time and spend these bouts of strategic time management doing leisure activities with my family and/ or friends.
- Being passionately immersed in your careers and consistently excelling (Power Couple) is amazing but how is it done?
FIONA: We both enjoy what we do and work tirelessly towards achieving our goals as I believe that it is important to be passionate in what you do. Hasrath has been a source of strength to me and pushes me forward to go to new heights.
HASRATH: Yes, we give our best in whatever we do but we try to limit the things we get involved with due to the constraints of time. I would say we are quite focused and work towards our goals. Fiona has been a source of inspiration in my life as she instills great human qualities in me.
- Where do you stand career-wise at present?
FIONA: I have recently been promoted to Marketing Director at Hemas FMCG Brands and my plan for now is to lead the amazing team of thirty Brand Custodians and Brand Support team members in our quest in creating strong Sri Lankan brands that we can all be proud of.
HASRATH: I look after the Marketing discipline at Commercial Bank and also oversee the Card Center at the bank. In addition I serve as a Trustee of the Commercial Bank CSR Trust. I am blessed with a great team both at Marketing and Card Center, who are extremely committed towards the betterment of the respective departments and the bank.
- What are your other interests?
FIONA: I love to read, watch movies and theatre and spend time with family and friends. We both love to travel and try to visit at least one new place every year.
HASRATH: I love sports particularly Cricket and Rugby and I follow the main sporting encounters of Royal College together with my eldest son Ashane who is 15 years old. I too love movies and also watch stage dramas and theatre. We are great travelers trying to explore new places always; be it in our beautiful country or in other parts of the world.
- How do you guys unwind and make ample room for family time / bonding?
FIONA: It is an uphill task, especially in the present digital age where your laptop and smart phones follow you around. I try not to take my laptop/ phone out until my son has gone to sleep. I am a morning person and I try to attend to any hard-pressed, work related issues early morning before anyone else wakes up.
During weekends Hasrath, Ashane, Tejan and I try to go to independence square for a walk, the pool for a swim or often for a movie together. We also try and visit the grand- parents whenever possible and we tend to go on quite a few trips out of Colombo.
HASRATH: I spend most of my time with Fiona and the boys as mentioned above. In addition, I meet up with my friends to watch a sporting encounter or for a social gathering when time permits.
- What words of inspiration can you offer to aspiring marketers?
FIONA: Keep an open mind, push yourself to try new things, spend time with consumers, seek out up-to date knowledge about the current happenings around the world and aim to delight your consumer.
HASRATH: Be focused, keep your feet on the ground and persevere. Of course there is no substitute for commitment and hard work.
- How does one propel oneself to that next step within a corporate structure?
FIONA: Never stop learning. Understand your business context, face challenges and take advantage of opportunities and work towards attaining the objectives. You need to be a facilitator as you go up the ladder and need to be able to bring out the best in people. Finally and most importantly, hard work and self-motivation ensures success.
HASRATH: I agree with Fiona. It is continuous development and application that results in victory.
- Is there any point in your career when you feel as if you have come to a cul-de-sac, as if you have attained all the goals, achieved all the accolades and there is no more to be done? If so what do you do to motivate yourself? If not, how do you keep going?
FIONA: There is still a long way to go. Resting on your laurels is dangerous and in today’s fast paced world what brought you success in the past may not be relevant for the future.
HASRATH: I have come a long way but there is more to be done. However I have passed the midway mark of my career and now it is about sharing my learnings and experiences with others and moulding them to be great professionals. That is what our country needs, so it is our duty to nurture the young. Speaking of myself, I will never stop yearning or thirsting for knowledge as I believe that there is so much to learn and it will continue till the very end of time.