hard to play harder
By Tharangani Perera
Messing around with classy cars is every boy’s dream. For
Yasendra Amerasinghe, the young director of operations at Carmart,
this dream is only two flights of stairs away from his office. Yet,
a vocation that involves being surrounded by Peugeots, Volkswagens
and Mazdas is not entirely consistent with glamour, thrill and joy
as it may seem. At the age of 24, the administration of a renowned
car company is a weighty responsibility, and yet, it’s one
that Yasendra surmounts with unwavering determination, lots of hard
work and a flash of a grin.
was born in Sri Lanka, where he schooled at Royal College, Colombo
until the fourth grade. After his family migrated to Australia,
he continued his education at a prestigious Australian school, after
which he journeyed to the United States where he followed a Bachelor’s
Degree in Computer Science at the University of Southern California.
From a fairly young age, Yasendra had to learn to keep himself occupied
as both his parents were professionals in their respective fields
and led busy lives. His father travelled back to Sri Lanka to resume
the management of Carmart and his mother remained in Australia to
take care of him.
had a very dynamic school life in Australia, which was brimming
over with extra curricular activities. “I loved playing basketball
at school,” exclaims Yasendra, adding that he had been playing
basketball for his school team and sports clubs since the age of
twelve. Surprisingly enough, this fanatic basketball player also
played the violin for the school orchestra for three years.
high school, Yasendra discovered another region of skill that he
possessed – photography. Since a camera first came into his
possession, he mainly photographed still life from all over the
world. As he was interested in graphic design, Yasendra played around
with some photographs he had taken of people using Photoshop software.
After seeing him at work, his English teacher convinced him to join
the school newspaper and created a new position for him, which was
christened ‘Image Manipulator’.
he was familiar with the general functioning of the newspaper, Yasendra
was promoted to production manager, and ultimately went on to become
editor. Sharing his experience as an editor, Yasendra stated, “I
had to work very hard as it was very important to me. It was very
time consuming and I had a difficult time getting the journalists
to meet deadlines as I was armed only with the threat of detention!”
Yasendra has travelled to many countries beginning with Japan. He
has travelled to New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Germany Switzerland,
England, France and much of Asia. He first travelled to the United
States at the time he was living in Australia, where he spent a
considerable amount of time sightseeing. Yasendra has also been
to Indonesia and Bali, where he enjoyed white water rafting.
“I love skiing!” was the first thing that Yasendra said
when he was asked about his interests. Having skied in both Los
Angeles and Australia, Yasendra prefers the slopes in Canada, which
he says are excellent. “When you first ski, it’s inevitable
that you fall,” says Yasendra, having learned flat on his
face a few times, incidents that unfortunately were never captured
a child, Yasendra was smitten with electronic equipment. Easily
excited by the mechanical or engineering aspect of any functioning
bit of machinery, he pulled things apart and tried to put it back
together. Currently, Yasendra is infatuated with cars and aspires
to build one. He’s fanatical about audio and electrical components
of any car, and makes sure that he’s behind the installation
of the sound setup of his Peugeot. The inside of Yasendra’s
406 coupé is perpetually in a state of ‘work in progress’.
Yasendra started working at Carmart in 2000, when he first returned
to Sri Lanka after eight years for his summer vacation. When he
graduated from USC in May of 2004, he returned to Sri Lanka and
was stationed as the IT director of Carmart. Having lived abroad
most of his life, Yasendra had to adapt to working with Sri Lankans,
who had fairly relaxed outlooks towards their professional life.
“Coming from an engineering background, I expected things
to be cut and dried and logical. When it wasn’t, I was disoriented,”
asked to run the operations was a serious responsibility and it
completely changed my life,” he added. As the director of
operations, Yasendra declares his main responsibilities as providing
leadership and facilitating others to perform to the best of their
ability, providing them with tools and knowledge required to do
so. Yasendra is always accessible to his staff, and aims to create
a pleasant working environment for every employee at Carmart, whether
a director or a maintenance worker as he feels that all of these
people contribute to the success of the company.
Is it possible to meet a 24-year-old who seldom relaxes? Anyone
who answers negatively has obviously never met Yasendra, who often
comes home at 10.30 in the night after a long day of work to wake
up at six next morning. Not a surprising fact, given that his career
philosophy is to ‘work hard now and play hard later’.
When he finds a precious few moments to relax on a weekend, Yasendra
prefers to watch movies at home, to mess around with the electrical
workings of his car, to sometimes go for a drive in the night or
play a little pool. But best of all, he loves to play basketball.
“When I play ball,” said Yasendra, “I can take
my mind off everything else.”