The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Woman on a mission

After a whirlwind week at the Roger Hatchuel Academy at Cannes Lakmini Wahalathanthri is determined to get to the top of her game

Lakmini Wahalathanthri, 23, has just returned from the Roger Hatchuel Academy in France, where she spent a week under the tutelage of a selection of the world’s most prominent advertising figures. She describes it as an experience that “blew me away”, and is back in the island a changed woman. A changed woman with an advertising mission, that is.

Lakmini. PIc by Nilan Maligaspe

Surfacing from a three-year stint of studying in the Maths stream for A’levels at Musaeus College, Lakmini stepped right into a career in marketing as an intern at TBWA. She rolls her eyes at the predictability of a life that propelled her from equations to brands, “Its a cliché, but I never thought I’d get into marketing and subsequently advertising.” But that she did while strengthening her work experience with marketing qualifications from CIM and a Masters Degree.

Joining Grants as a trainee accounts executive, she has risen up to the lofty post of Senior Brands Executive.   As far as determination and commitment goes, this is one for which she was eventually rewarded with the chance to join the alumni of the Roger Hatchuel Academy.

To qualify for Roger Hatchuel, one must participate in a local advertising competition generically named Strategic Direction Competition. Following some challenging trials Lakmini emerged triumphant, walking away with the ticket into the hallowed halls of Roger Hatchuel.

Its affiliation with the Cannes Lion International Festival is one of the many reasons for its exclusivity. Considered the largest gathering of worldwide advertising professionals, designers, digital innovators and marketers; Cannes Lion is what Lakmini calls the ‘advertising equivalent of the Oscars’ and the ‘Lion Awards’ are commonly considered the highest accolade for an advertising professional.

“I learnt things at Roger Hatchuel and during Cannes Lions that I never would have learnt back at home,” she says adding, “being in the same room with people from Google, the CEO of Twitter, Bill Clinton and getting the opportunity to hear them talk was absolutely amazing.”

During their lectures at the academy, they were taught by advertising gurus and were given the opportunity to ask questions and have them answered. Students from 27 countries had the opportunity to mingle, share ideas and network. Lakmini and her classmates still keep in touch, and this helps her see things in new perspective, she adds.

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