[APPRECIATIONS - (13-08-2018)] | Daily News

[APPRECIATIONS - (13-08-2018)]

Prof. Uditha Liyanage

Guiding light

Three years have passed by since the demise of my mentor Prof. Uditha Liyanage. A lot had been said about this legendary marketting sage since his untimely departure in August, 2015. The Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) had posthumously published his final contribution Consumer Strategy in 2016.

We renamed the PIM library as the “Prof. Uditha Liyanage Memorial Library” last year. In 2018, we would launch the “Prof. Uditha Liyanage Memorial Oration” as an annual event. My attempt is not to repeat his accolades, but to share my experiences of being influenced by this wonderful human being. Professor Uditha Liyanage was an invaluable instructor, inspirer and an influencer to for me. Let me share some such reminiscent memories. He was my marketting teacher at the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM). As an engineer who had never done marketting, I developed a flavour for it during my MBA studies, thanks to him.

The way he generated interest in us not only for concepts, but also for applications, was remarkable. He often advocated us to be “brilliant in basics.” The way he delivered a session was quite interactive and informative, as he firmly believed in “chalk and talk.” This was the case with numerous topics in Strategic Marketting, Marketting Communication, Consumer Behaviour, Research, Business Strategy and Policy. Of course, he had PowerPoint slides, not with mere points, but powerful ones. He always challenged us by asking “what is the point?”

We had to be clear about the central theme or the main argument. Once he became the Director, he recommended us to use four modes of teaching, namely tell, ask, do and show. His view was that during a three-hour lecture, the telling should not be more than one-third. The rest should be asking questions, carrying out activities such as case studies as well as showing videos followed by discussions. We felt the variety and versatility of his endavours through all this. Prof. Liyanage insisted on the understanding and application of managerial topics. He gave us a challenge: be confident in sharing key learning points in your own words with your teenage son or daughter, in a manner that they would understand. That requires clarity and commitment.

He suggested us to use a “switch on, switch off” approach. Switch on is when you are in complete focus with attentive concentration. Switch off means to relax and unwind. A healthy blend of both is necessary in effectively grasping knowledge. Developing teaching models was one of his key initiatives. A simple Google search would amply justify the popularity of those models in relation to marketting and strategy. Liyanage Value Pyramid, Liyanage 10 S Strategic Marketting Planning Framework and Liyanage Strategy Quadrant are some such models that became useful for management learners. These authentic models made his sessions enriching and also showcased the power of Sri Lankan thinking that is second to none.

Prof. Liyanage inspired me in many fronts. He stood tall in front of all of us. As a sought-after marketting scholar, a strategic management thinker, an exceptional academic, a thought-provoking teacher and a visionary leader, he was a guiding light for to us. I saw him rendering yeoman service in multiple ways in raising the PIM flag higher. His exemplary character and competence were evident in the manner he contributed to socio-economic upliftment as a great human being.

We at PIM, in fact, had been privileged not only to associate with him, but to be inspired by him as well. He shared criticisms against MBAs by the CEOs and insisted that PIM MBA’s should be different. Thus came the slogan, “Do not just do an MBA, but be an MBA.”

“The process of learning and one’s exposure to education must be continuous. There is much more to be known and that which you know may no longer be valid.” This had been Prof. Liyanage’s advice. He shared with us articles, web-links and books that were of high relevance to sharpening our managerial skills. I still remember how he shared an article on Nishkam Karma (detached involvement) written by a Prof. Chakraborty from the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.

Prof. Liyanage was interested in knowing my reflections on it and it took time for me to realise the value of such gestures. Moreover, I see the value of detached involvement as a leader thanks to him. I saw the blossoming of transformational leadership at PIM with Prof. Liyanage. He influenced all of us to raise the quality and relevance of all modules we deliver. “Our business is mastery,” he often said. “PIM brings the reward of outstanding results to those professional managers who strive towards mastery.” That’s how he influenced the aspiring learners of PIM.

Converting practitioners to professionals with character and competence had been our endavour.

PIM had always been a centre of excellence in management education with its winds spreading beyond Sri Lanka. Much of the credit should go to Prof. Liyanage for elevating it even higher. PIM is proud of being a self-financed, semi-autonomous public entity. It was under his leadership that we became the first public sector higher education institute to obtain the ISO 9000: 2008 quality standards. He influenced us to change for the better.

Through his famous “mod-tradi consumer model,” he encouraged us to strike a balance between traditions and technology. I still remember how he insisted on using more practical examples in discussing a theory than being overly theoretical and neglecting practice. He showed us through his innovative teaching approaches, as to how we should maintain depth. Prof. Liyanage compared PIM to a temple and often suggested that the work we do have high spiritual value. He encouraged us to “give more than we get” with regard to rewards. Having left a lucrative multinational career in becoming an academic, this lesson was soothing for me.

He cautioned me to strike the needed balance between knowledge-creation and knowledge-sharing when I was having an over-demand for training and consultancy. A research role, though not financially-rewarding, is of extreme use for a management academic. I learnt how to be a multiple role-player with balance and brilliance, thanks to him.

Life is not only to live, but to leave a legacy. Prof. Liyanage had aptly done that during his life.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “It is not the years in life that matter, but the life in years.” This was very true of Prof. Liyanage. We at PIM commit ourselves to carry his legacy forward. I am humbly happy to lead a learning community in such a noble endavour.

Goodbye my beloved instructor, inspirer and influencer. May you attain the Supreme Bliss of Nibbana.

Prof. Ajantha Dharmasiri,

PIM Director

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In memory of Nadeepa Dharmasiri

The reminiscent memories of your life
Always bringeth a glazing smile.
If only I’d get one last chance to chat with you,
Just for a little while
Then we could sit and have a tete-a-tete,
Just like we used to do,
Once you filled moments with supreme delight,
And now your memories always doth too
Thanks for trusting me from the start,
Although I couldn’t say you had a warm heart,
Trust me, your secrets will always be,
Under the tightest lock and key
Sayeth one poet;
Seasons change: songs do fade
Death never detaches from our fate
Never mind, we’ll meet somewhere, someday,
In heaven, where eternal glee’d stay
It fills two years for today,
And I’ve learnt from day to day,
Your memories will linger within my heart,
Overflowing with gleams of sunshine, flowers and hearts

Ravindu Fonseka

****

Tribute

Barbara Perera

An inspiration

Wishing Barbara Schofield Perera a lifetime of love, happiness and good health in celebrating her 100th birthday.

May your days ahead be full of light and laughter, surrounded by those you love the most. You are a shining example of a life well-lived and inspire us all to do the same.

Your friends and family,

St. Nikolaas’ Home, Dehiwala

****

Michael Perera Jayasuriya

Beloved father

You were born on August 16, 1894,
In the staunchly Catholic village of Kalamulla,
The little Vatican of Kalutara,
Dotted with five churches built on the coastline,
You were educated at Holy Cross College, Kalutara,
The only Catholic boys’ school situated between Moratuwa and Galle,
Keeping its flag flying high to date,
With its sister-school Holy Family Convent situated close by,
August 16, on your birthday,
It would have been a truly momentous day,
If you had lived to date,
But God thought otherwise,
On this day,
You would surely be looking down at me from heaven,
As I recollect the way we were brought up in life, step by step,
And the deeds of a beloved father,
Life was always a hard struggle for you,
I can still remember those difficult times,
Sorrows and worries, obstacles and setbacks,
You had them all in plenty,
During your young days, being duty-conscious,
You had waited and waited,
Until your elder sister walked down the aisle,
Before taking the all-important step in your own life,
Your never had a chance,
To own a house of your own,
Living in rented houses was the norm of the day,
But you never tried to own them,
Through legal or illegal means,
As a devoted father,
And as the head of a loving family,
You braved them all,
With clean principles and faith in God,
You fed us, clothed us and educated us,
You looked after us in sicknesses and injuries,
You did all that with what you had,
As a monthly pay from civil medical stores,
How you managed to do so much with so little,
Is still a mystery to me!
You never had a bank account in your name,
You never tried to earn a single Rupee in an unjust way,
You never owed anyone a single Rupee either,
And you taught me by practice,
How to live within one’s means
And that money is not everything in life
You were firm in your decisions,
You were not a silent spectator,
In the face of lies or injustice,
You feared no one in this world,
You feared only God,
And, a moment before you clutched God’s hand,
On January 24, 1993, at the age of 98,
You would have felt contended to think,
That you had brought up three daughters and a son,
To what they were on that date,
With your sweat, toil and sacrifice,
Now it is my turn to to do better,
And to pave a path for my son and two daughters,
To reach greater heights in society,
A wish so dear to your heart
A struggle I have to win,
To instill in you again and again,
That you certainly had a son,
Worthy to carry your surname,
Whom you named Srilal

Your only son,
Srilal Jayasuriya

****

Beta Pereira

Exceptional human being

At the very outset, let me say that it is not usual for a son to write an appreciation of his mother. But then, my mother was an exceptional human being, at least to my two siblings Leilani and Pravin as well as myself.

She lived to the ripe old age of 99, exceeding the Psalmist’s score by almost three decades. To the three of us, she was everything and more that a mother could ever be. Even long after my formative years, she was the one I always turned to and relied on. When I exceeded my weekly allowance, I could rely on her for a little something to tide me over until the next installment and nary a word to my papa.

My papa, being the martinet he was, was very strict about what he doled out to his three children . Come birthdays and family outings, it was our mum who came out with ideas and planning: trips to the Gampaha Gardens, Victoria Park as well as moonlight dinners at the Lighthouse on Marine Drive. She was the one who always ensured that there was a “jolly bomb” at my sister Leilani’s birthdays in December. Her culinary expertise were well-known and my cousins still smack their lips when they talk about her cheese straws, cream buns, the Portuguese delicacy bolo folhado, and the South Indian payasam and kesari.

Her Sunday afternoon desserts were especially delicious and we the family could choose our favourite dessert in rotation, my being the honeycomb mould pudding. Her skills extended to sewing, foreign languages and music as well. My paternal aunt Niru used to tell us that she had sewn for four generations of my father’s family.

She was quite adept at keyboards and our home used to waft to the tunes of Chopsticks and The Maiden’s Prayer.

Despite her mild disposition and diminutive size, she could be quite formidable when the occasion warranted it and woe betide the butcher who short-changed her on a joint of beef or if the dhoby brought back her precious dorcas bed sheets frayed! She was also a live-wire of the Bambalapitiya Holy Family Convent Old Girls’ Association and played a good game of tennis in a (half-sari) at the Bambalapitiya Catholic Association.

Mum had her share of idiosyncrasies too: bent forks and knives and talking to herself whilst washing the dishes. She also had this uncanny knack of getting along with people. In fact, it was a standard joke at home that when my paternal grandmother used to visit us at home, she spent more time with her daughter-in-law than with her son. Even at this advanced age of mine, what wouldn’t I give to be tucked into bed at night one more time listening to her narration of Jack and Bean Stalk as well as lullabies such as Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major and The Good Ship Lollipop, and for a touch of those soft-gnarled hands and that distinctive whiff of 4711 Eau de Cologne on her being as well as the rustle of her housecoat and her warm, endearing smile.She riseth with the dawn

She eateth not the bread of idleness
She opens her mouth with wisdom
Her words are the law of kindliness
Her children rise up and call her blessed.
- Proverbs 31

Jit

****

William Henry Samaranayake

Dedicated educationist

With the passing of William Henry Samaranayake, retired Principal of St. Bernadette’s College, Polgahawela, in 1969, the country lost a great educationist and silent social worker, whose activities were directed to the welfare of students.

Many of them rose to power and distinction. When Samaranayake took over St. Bernadette’s College, it had only a few cadjan huts to house students. Samaranayake’s courage and perseverance helped produce magnificent buildings which house the college even today. Samaranayake was not only a man of an unassuming disposition; he also had dignity without pride.

He was calm and collected and was a gentleman par excellence. Samaranayake belonged to an age which is fast-sliding into history, but he successfully accomplished his tasks, reaching eminence in diverse fields. His philanthropic genius enabled many an underprivileged to bask in the radiance of his warmhearted munificence and acts of generosity. Educationists of Samaranayake’s stamp, mettle and genius are indeed today, rare as sandalwood trees that adorn the jungles of Sri Lanka.

William Henry Samaranayake will long be remembered as a great educationist who disciplined and moulded students to be respectful towards their parents, elders and the state.

The students who occupy positions of dignity in the nation today, owe a great deal to Samaranayake. He was also a prolific writer to the press and his articles were directed towards creating public opinion. Three great positions worthy of human ambition are to be the ruler of a great nation, the principal of a great school or the author of a great book.

Samaranayake was not only the principal of that great school, St. Bernadette’s College, but he was also the author of four great books: English with a Smile 1, English with a Smile 2 and English with a Smile 3 as well as Practical English, which is almost a vade mecum and a sine qua non to English students in Sri Lanka. W. H. Samaranayake has been laid to rest, but he would live forever in his books, which as text books in Sri Lankan schools, had been and would continue to be, invaluable guides to generations of teachers as well as students for years beyond our ken.

The world had lost a great educationist who was distinguished for his simplicity as well as his high sense of duty and integrity. His 49th death anniversary falls on August 26, 2018. His 112th birth anniversary falls on November 26, 2018.

Cecil R. Senanayake


 

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