Mirror Magazine

Working 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.

Yasendra 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.

Growing up
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.

Yasendra 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.

In 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’.

After 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!”

Travel thirst
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 on film.

As 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,” Yasendra said.

“Being 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.”


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