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‘Knowledge and theories are essential’:

Need for skilled marketers on the increase

Unlike in days gone by, in most industries marketing has been highlighted as a vital job, especially during times of recession. In a booming market, the role of marketing can be quite invincible, said the Head of Marketing (Ship Repairs) Colombo Dockyard PLC, Darshana Chandrasekara.


Darshana Chandrasekara

“As I believe, marketing has been identified as an essential factor at boardroom meetings and today it has gained value and it has been correctly positioned not only at the Dockyard but also in most organizations,” he said.

Here are his down-to-earth views

Q. What inspired you to select marketing as your career?

A. Soon after I finished my secondary studies in school I was looking for opportunities where I could develop my professional career. One of the areas I was interested in was marketing. I joined Dockyard as a management trainee 19 years ago and I selected marketing as my profession to develop and expand my knowledge and skills.

Q. Being a front-liner in the company, what are the challenges you face in the field of marketing?

A. Unlike in the good old days the fundamental aspects of marketing have changed. Today it is quite challenging and it depends highly on innovation. For example, in the good old days word of mouth was not considered as an effective communication tool. However, today it has became the most innovative and effective social communication method like Face book and other cyber networks.

I am into both goods and services and here my role of marketing is quite different and challenging.

My main intention is to provide goods and services to our end user with the correct mix of the four Ps which is Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Therefore, our ultimate objective is to deliver the promise we offer customers to satisfy their needs.

Many people see Colombo as a tourist destination not as a techno savvy city as Singapore. This adversely affects the ship-building industry when we promote our services in the global market.

We have already geared ourselves to overcome this problem by being flexible with our customers and understanding their requirements. We have been flexible in marketing communication as well. We always try to maintain international standards in our products and services.

Q. What is the impact of the current economic crisis on your company?

A. The ship industry always relies on local and international trade. Transportation between countries is essential and therefore the ship-building industry plays a huge support role to sustain local and international trade.

However, with the current economic crisis there was an adverse impact on the ship building-industry due to the international trade collapsing. As a result ship owners consciously looked at their ship repairing and expanding expenses. To sustain in business profitably during a recession period is quite challenging.

Hence, marketing has a huge role to play to find new market segments and add value to the existing products and cater to customers’ needs at affordable rates. By applying these strategies we can attract new customers to our business and expand the market share. During the past two decades the company has gone through many recession periods and so far we have quite successfully managed to sustain in the business.

Q. In many companies we often see that marketeers are not represented at the boardroom meetings. What is your view?

A. Unlike in the past, in most industries marketing has been highlighted as a vital job especially during times of recession. In a booming market, the role of marketing can be quite invincible.

Hence, marketing positions have been highlighted during times of recession. As I believe, marketing has been identified today as an essential factor in boardroom meetings. It has gained value and it has been correctly positioned not only at the Dockyard but also in most organizations.

Q. What are the advertising strategies that you employ in the company?

A. We mainly employ Above The Line (ATL) advertising strategies in our business. A high value business such as ship-building and repair is always essential to build the brand image of the product or the service.

We use ATL advertising strategies mainly for the company’s image building and create an awareness of the product and services of the company. Apart from ATL, we use Below The Line (BTL) strategies as well as exhibitions, seminars and word of mouth communication. We always educate our employees through training programs, workshops and awareness programs to educate them about the current economic situation around the world.

Q. What do you think about local marketeers?

A. To sustain as a marketeer today is not only being disciplined in marketing theories. Knowledge and theories are essential in the field of marketing and at the same time the practical knowledge and experience we gathered during different economic environments is also to add value to the position of marketing. We should always be alert to the changing trends of the market.

The role of marketing is now more complex and it has diversified its responsibilities in various other positions of the company. Therefore, to sustain as a marketeer is quite challenging and the need for skilled marketeers increases day by day in the market.

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