Sudash Liyanage, DTM

Sudash Liyanage, DTM

Candidate's Office: International Director

Region Number: 13

Toastmasters member since: 2006

Education: Master of Business Administration (MBA)/ Chartered Marketer / Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing- CIM UK (Pg. Dip. M) /Certified Management Accountant - CMA (Australia)/Fellow Member of Chartered Professional Managers- FCPM (Sri Lanka)

Employer and/or position: Head of Environmental Science / Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Limited

Served as District Director of District number: 82

Term of service: 2016 - 2017

In term as District Director, District achieved: President's Distinguished

Toastmasters offices held and terms of service (international-, region-, and District-level):

  • 2014-2015 Lieutenant Governor Marketing - D 82
  • 2015-2016 Program Quality Director - D 82
  • 2016-2017 District Director - D 82
  • 2020-2021 Region 13 Advisor
  • 2021-2022 Region 13 Advisor

Toastmasters honors and recognition (international- and District-level):

  • 2014-2015 Excellence in Marketing Award
  • 2015-2016 Excellence in Program Quality Award
  • 2016-2017 President's Distinguished District Award
  • 2016-2017 President's 20-Plus Award
  • 2016-2017 Excellence in Leadership Award 2016-2017
  • 2016-2017 President's Extension Award

Relevant work experience and how it relates to Toastmasters and your role as a Board Member:

My career spans over 34 years and at present a Strategic Business Unit Head of a multinational conglomerate. In addition to my current exposure to General management and board nuances, I had been spearheading International Marketing and Brand building for three major corporates, of three diversified business sectors: Porcelain Crockery, Dilmah Tea, and Natural Latex Mattresses.

16 years of International marketing exposure with entire Europe, South & North America, Africa, the Middle East, and the whole of Asia and Australia made me understand the influence of unique cultural dynamics in business and the requirements to adjust strategies and implement tailor-made strategic plans to achieve our goals. It helped me to achieve set targets every year of my life even in hard times and in ailing economies.

The wide and varied experience in establishing new corporate business units, signing international strategic partnerships, global brand marketing exposure, penetrating new markets, and ensuring customer care & retention in keeping with core values of businesses, relates very well with the toastmasters. Thus above exposure could certainly add value to my role as a board member in achieving the major objectives of Toastmasters International to realize the brand promise and envisioned future.

What experience do you have in strategic planning?

I possess over 20 years of strategic planning experience in the corporate world and in non-profit organizations. The Definition of strategic planning I learned, believe and practice is a study of the functions and responsibilities of managing the long-term success of an organization. Accordingly, I have proven my experience in business, corporate and international level strategic planning done in companies I have worked and working with.

Further, I have been involved with voluntary organizations such as the Pest Managers Association of Sri Lanka of which I am the founder & Charter President, and also work on the Advisory Board of the Community Welfare Association consists of a gated community of1210 houses. In such organizations, I have spearheaded the development of strategic plans to satisfy the mission of serving the stakeholders and community.

In addition, as the District Director of the year 2016/17, I was able to introduce novel strategies to district 82 such as “Club Retention Chairs” for both Tamil Nadu & Sri Lanka as a club retention strategy, “Roadshows” as a long term promotional strategy and a “Quality Club Award” for improvement of member experience at the club level, which is still being practiced.

What experience do you have in the area of finance?

Out of the three decades, over 22 years of my professional career, I was entrusted to manage finances and make sure that we achieve all corporate financial objectives. In this direction, I have personally been involved in year-on-year financial planning, budgeting, and achievements of topline and bottom line targets, whilst adhering to tax and statutory regulations of both my country and international geographies.

Currently, I report to the sector board of management on all aspects of finances related to my strategic business unit, which involves financial growth planning, inventory management, and managing cost, and collections in order to make the unit a profitable venture.

Further, I am a qualified Certified Management Accountant and have hands-on experience in managing finances in volunteer organizations

What experience do you have in developing policies?

I have been involved in developing policies for the corporates that I worked as a Senior Management team member on various policy initiatives such as Administrative, Human resource, financial, marketing, and especially on diversification of businesses. The effectiveness of policies was evident in terms of achieving exponential growth in profitability, increase in brand equity, and thereby enhanced shareholder value. Admin and HR policies implemented have resulted in employee satisfaction, the creation of well-knit cohesive team culture, and retention.

I have also spearheaded the development of a policy framework for the Pest Control Industry of Sri Lanka as the Founder President of the Pest Managers Association of Sri Lanka, a volunteer organization formed for the first time in the country. This entails setting policies, protocols, and procedures for the protection and safety of humans and the environment.

What lessons did you learn from previous leadership positions?

As the Region Advisor for Two terms; I learnt the diversity of 10 districts, Facilitation and the Art of retaining positivity (even during pandemics) by continuous appreciation, recognition and assisting leaders to realize their full potential amidst challenges. Also the importance of identifying and resolving conflicts at the earliest possible stage.

As the District Director; the core learning was the realization of the importance of making every decision by upholding the core values of toastmasters, especially in situations where difficult decisions are to be made. In addition;

  1. Communicate the vision and expectations at the outset and empower the relevant teams to own responsibilities and act to achieve the same. For example, I set the expectation of achieving 100%in whatever we do during my acceptance speech and concluded the year with an achievement of 98% of clubs (195/199) achieving distinguished status or more
  2. Realization of true servant leadership in handling crisis situations by listening, being empathetic and providing support, guidance and continuous assurance.
  3. Learnt the art of conflict resolution of teams consisting of members from two nations, multiple cultures & religions, diversified age groups and work life, to create a cohesive team.
  4. How to manage and balance the work life, family, social and toastmasters and achieve success in all four aspects of my life.
  5. Impact of timelines and adhering to set policies, guidelines and governing laws of toastmasters International to manage & lead my District to be number three in the world.
As immediate Past District Director, I learnt to let go, provide respect to the current trio and empower them with the necessary guidance and mentoring.

What experience and key strengths would you bring to the Board of Directors?

As a Professional chartered marketer for over 26 years, I possess experience in international brand building, creating international marketing campaigns &partnerships. Also as a Strategic Business Unit Head, I have strengthened my strategic planning abilities, financial acumen, PR & team building skills.

Hence I am confident in providing strategic thinking and supporting the board to widespread & strengthen the current programs in place. Also to leverage my global marketing experience to develop new marketing strategies collectively with other board members; expand awareness & membership, and member retention, and to increase sustainable clubs in order to fulfill the mission of Toastmasters International.

The skill of anticipating, exploring opportunities for growth, and satisfying the needs of discerning customers the world over will be a key strength I would bring to the board. The holistic view of toastmasters' direction & purpose, gained through the last 16 years as a member and as a district officer of over 6 years has helped me to gain true servant leadership qualities, which would help me to participate in strategic plan development, execution, and monitoring process to better serve our entire membership.

Further, I shall bring the experience of volunteer leadership through my activities in various associations to help determine the future focus of our organization and in setting future strategic plans

Why do you want to serve as an International Officer/Director?

I would consider this an opportune time to be an active member of the strategic leadership team of our organization, after having served as Region Advisor for two terms at the district level. Because I am fresh to relate and make our strategies aligned to the needs and aspirations of our membership. Also, we are now well poised to take our membership to the future of competence-based learning in the era of digital technology. The Pathways will determine the future of our organization as it would attract younger members and we will be able to transform their lives into better communicators and competent leaders.

I have an inner craving to further serve our members with the same passion and commitment received by me from my mentors and leaders. Toastmasters transformed my life and I owe great gratitude. Hence my desire is to reciprocate by being an important contributor to the board of directors of our esteemed organization to provide an exciting member experience and to set a strategic direction to serve our members in achieving individual excellence.

Further, I wish to use my visionary thinking, derived through work experience and toastmasters leadership journey, at the board level to support the successful implementation of our Strategic plan, to be an ambassador of the brand, realize the mission, and reach closer to the envisioned future of Toastmasters. Also, I find a suitable candidate in me who is able to think globally and act regionally by knowing the significant cultural, economic, and social perspectives of all the districts in my region.

What volunteer experience do you have outside of Toastmasters?

The Founder President of Pest Managers Association of Sri Lanka (PMASL) – 2016 /2018
A brainchild of mine and the first ever association representing the pest control sector of the country for establishing professional standards, setting standard operating procedures, and being involved in policy development with the Ministry of Health of the Government of Sri Lanka. I still serve as the President of PMASL.

Council Member of Certified Management Accountants (CMA), Australia- since 2015/16
Member of the continuous professional development board of the Institute

I was the Treasurer and a member of the Advisory Committee of Nivasie Community Welfare Association (NCWA) responsible for the welfare, security, and sanitation of the community.

Fellow member of the Institute of Certified Professional Managers of Sri Lanka (FCPM), a volunteer organization to enhance continuous professional development and improve networking with every profession

I was a volunteer visiting faculty for the Open University of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Technical College on Secretarial, communication, and leadership skills development.

Life Member -Alumni Association of Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM), University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka.

Associate Member of JASTECA – Sri Lanka.

Have you worked with other Boards of Directors outside of Toastmasters? If so, describe your experience.

I have worked with many other Boards of Directors of various corporate entities as a part of my official responsibilities namely;
As the Head of Environmental Science at Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Limited (for 12 years), of Hayleys Group, which is a Sri Lanka-based multinational conglomerate. Currently, I work closely with my board of directors in setting policies and strategic direction for the business unit.
Worked as Vice President (International Marketing) - at Richard Peiris Exports sector. (For 4 years) and involved in developing an international brand-building program with the CEO and board of directors.

Regional Marketing Manager of world-famous DILMAH branded teas with the MJF Group (for 6 Years), which is a family-owned corporate giant and I was able to develop brand marketing strategies directly with the Chairman, Marketing Director, and the board of directors for European, Middle Eastern and Asian markets.
In the capacity of Export Manager at Dankotuwa Porcelain Limited (for 4 years), I was able to develop and present market penetration and expansion strategies to the board. Then those were implemented successfully to increase the country portfolio from 8 to 21.

In your opinion, what are Toastmasters International’s major objectives and how would you work to achieve them?

The major objectives of toastmasters international are to develop strategies to create more effective communicators and leaders that would lead towards realizing our envisioned future. At present as the world is resetting itself after the pandemic, we have three additional objectives that take precedence namely; regain the membership or realize organizational growth, secure young membership by capitalizing on and strengthening the Pathways program, and provide quality member experience constantly.

I personally believe that my experience and skills will certainly help the realization of the objectives stated above by being a board member in developing Strategic Initiatives to regain and reconnect with past members and to increase membership by

  1. Creating a comprehensive marketing strategy based on the brand promise,
  2. Enhance facilitation of successful marketing at the club and district level and
  3. Engage advertising experts and media buyers, as I have global brand marketing experience of over 14 years related to three identified marketing strategies.

Additional information about candidate:

I am from Colombo Sri Lanka, the Island called the pearl of the Indian Ocean. My wife Deepani a Secretary and we are happily married for 30 years and blessed with twins a boy and a girl. The son Sahas is reading for a master's in Architecture and the daughter Sasini completed a degree in International Business. My other interests are observing character traits of individuals, tracking nature trails, traveling, and photography. I carry my servant leadership traits thanks to my Mother who is a Girl Guide Commissioner.