Get To know Nayomi Handunnetti, Executive Director of Handun Villas & Restaurants

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“Do what the 99% are not doing”. Women getting into leadership roles is quite a growing trend these days. However, ladies with diverse talents and immense potential cannot be found often. Also, women playing different roles at a given time cannot easily be found too. Uniqueness is the differentiator of this amazing lady we are about to feature. She is Nayomi Handunetti.

Nayomi is the Co-founder & Executive Director of Handun Villas & Restaurants offering relaxed getaways to global travelers.  She has an MBA from the New University of Buckinghamshire UK, MSC in Marketing from Asia e-University Malaysia and Certified Management Accountant (Australia). A dynamic lady with a multitude of skills, we had the pleasure of having a discussion with Nayomi Handunnetti.

Hi Nayomi, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you with Marketing In Asia. Could you please tell us who you really are? 

It’s indeed a pleasure to meet you Sasanka and let me first thank you for the opportunity given to me to give an exclusive interview to Marketing In Asia. So, I’m a wife, mother, sister & a friend. Apart from these key roles I’m a highly energetic results-oriented woman who believes “Balance” is the key to a successful life. My professional life revolves around being an Entrepreneur, Marketing specialist, Event planner, Writer, SME sector Marketing Consultant & a Global Goodwill Ambassador.

I’m a marketing professional with over 15 years of experience working for some ofthe biggest corporate names in Sri Lanka and abroad. My specialty is in global travel, logistics, manufacturing and distribution. I also have a proven record in following international business processes to successfully deliver large-scale projects, while keeping to stringent requirements and timelines. My customer-focused approach has been one of the key pillars behind my achievements.

You recently won an award, we are eagerly awaiting to hear more details about it. What was this award and what does it mean to you as a Marketer? 

Yes, I’m honored & privileged to have won this award at the World Marketing Congress held on the 21st of November 2019. The ‘Most Influential Global Marketing Leaders’ list is a result of an intensely researched process undertaken by the research cell which consists of Post Graduates in History & Management with a combined 100+ years research experience, post their studies. It is the hard work and intense work ethic of the research cell which produces a shortlist of individuals who are doing extraordinary work & track the record of their achievements. The shortlist is then reviewed by a Jury comprising senior professionals from across the globe.

The criteria adopted in this case are marketing competencies, strategic perspective & future orientation, track record, integrity and ethics and commitment to sustainability (business, social & environmental)

It means a great deal to me as it helps me build confidence in women and men who are striving hard to balance their personal and professional lives. We as Asians come from a culture where women are expected to play different roles while pursuing her professional career. This is no easy task. Therefore, being a wife, mother, professional marketer & an entrepreneur, I would say I have been able to balance my life with the support of my family, friends and colleagues. Therefore, this award means a great deal to me to inspire others irrespective of their gender. 

Sounds interesting and intriguing Nayomi. We live in an era where almost every aspect of life is being digitally transformed. What type of mindset should the marketers have in the digital era?

The World is changing rapidly with new technology being introduced all the time. The mindset of the marketers should be to keep up with these new technologies, so they are able to take maximum advantage of the benefits. At a day and age where there is an overload of information how do we stand on top of our customer’s mind is a daunting task. Therefore, I suggest that one of the ways to achieve this is to keep in mind the human aspect of your marketing campaigns and talk to people’s emotions using these new technologies. 

How crucial is marketing for an entrepreneur and a business?

Good question Sasanka. I believe that marketing is everything to an entrepreneur as everything and entrepreneur does today revolves around marketing. Traditionally we looked at product, pricing, place, process, promotion, people & physical evidence as the Marketing Mix. However, in the modern world the most important elements to a business are people, planet & profit. Therefore, it is very important as an entrepreneur to build his/her business around the key concepts of people, planet & profit. 

Do you think that a Marketer must have personal branding to move forward in this era of rapid change?

Absolutely, personal branding is very important to get your message out there authentically & more effectively. The more you build your own brand as a credible & ethical individual, the tendency is that people look up to you for thoughts, ideas, inspiration, etc.  You organically become an influencer to change the world. 

Entrepreneurship journey is not a bed of roses, but it’s ultimately possible. Nayomi, you are an entrepreneur as well. Could you please tell us about your journey and the business? 

I’ve started off as a marketing professional and now an entrepreneur as well. Not an easy task at all as I’m still a work in progress. The journey is rewarding and challenging but I wouldn’t do it any other way. I started off in 2015 setting up my own Villas & Restaurants as what is known today as “Handun Villas & Restaurants”. We offer Relaxation and Authentic Southern Sri Lankan Cuisine & Experience to global travelers. There are few other Businesses I’m involved in, apart from tourism. “The Siren” is my consultancy business and “Coteso Global (Pvt) Ltd” is my tech company. Both of these companies are startups and in the infancy stage. 

My Core message as Marketer and an Entrepreneur has always been ‘to seek balance’ in everything we do. I gained a lot of Insight on this message after reading “The Midas Touch” by Mr. Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki. 

You have won a plethora of accolades. Could you please share some details about them?

I have won a few awards during my journey. My career awards include; IBM rookie salesperson of the year, Nominated for Entrepreneur of the year – Women in Management Sri Lanka, 50 most powerful women leaders in Asia – The World Brand Congress and Most Influential Marketing Leaders – The World Marketing Congress. These accolades have encouraged me to push the limits at all times.

Nayomi, we believe your message of having “balance” in whatever you do, is quite timely and essential to build a community of robust marketers to face any challenge they face in the future. Thank you for joining us on Marketing In Asia.

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