Tuesday 18 December 2012

Eardley Perera remembers...

A few of us started the Ceylon Institute of Marketing in January 1970 with the intention of developing the professionals in marketing in Sri Lanka. One of our primary objectives was to update our members with knowledge and in this pursuit we focussed on Market Research as one area. For this purpose, through contacts in MNCs and Indian managers in Sri Lanka, we targeted three leading MR specialists in India to run a three day program me here in SL. Among them was your father and my close friend Titoo Ahluwallia.

Our friendship grew quite strong and I did remain in touch with your father and Titoo and even met up with them when they came here or I went to India. Titoo went further by developing a business association in Sri Lanka for the Indian Market Research Bureau to set up a joint venture, Lanka Market Research Bureau. I was present when the office was inaugurated in Sri Lanka. Your father too continued his association with SL through the IIMA and had close links with the private sector. Additionally many Sri Lankan managers were sent to IIMA for short term development programs through his initiatives. His untimely death was a shock to many of us who knew him and regarded him as a true gentleman, a true professional and an excellent lecturer/teacher. He loved Sri Lanka and was anxious to visit here more often, but he was deprived of this intention.

* Editors Note: The 3-day program took place in December, 1977. See newspaper clipping above.

Kenneth Abeywickrama remembers...

We first met Prof. Labdhi Bhandari of the IIMA in 1972 when the newly formed Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing  held a seminar in Colombo on Market Research. He was one of the three resource persons we invited from India. I was a senior Marketing Manager of Lever Brothers Ceylon Ltd. at the time and a founder member (later President of the institute).

In 1980, I was Chairman of the State Timber Corporation of Sri Lanka, (on secondment from Lever Brothers Ceylon) when the then Sri Lankan Minister of Lands and Land Development wanted me to organise a training course on business planning for the heads of the departments and corporations under his ministry. My thoughts went back to the IIMA and Prof. Labdhi Bhandari, now a dean in the management school. We had initial meetings with him in Ahmedabad, together with a Mr. Wijesinghe, an Assistant Secretary in the ministry, who was to become the project coordinator. The team that was put together for this project consisted of Prof. Labdhi Bhandari (Leader), Prof. Mohan Kaul and Prof. Gopinath.

The project first organised a three day training seminar for the heads of departments and corporations. The obstacles were immediately apparent. Many of these top public officials, though highly qualified in their special fields, had little experience of modern management and countered that planning was impossible in their departments. Prof. Bhandari's tact and PR skills then came into play. It was agreed that the team would work with each individual organisation to set up a planning system specially designed for them and then monitor the implementation for half a year. This ensured the success of the project which lasted one year with the resource persons visiting Sri Lanka every two month period.

I still remember Prof. Bhandari with affection and I still have in my office room an eight inch tall replica of a prancing horse that he gifted to me.