Balancing a demanding job with child-rearing and running the home smoothly is the daunting task that most working women have to face. Sheron Jayasundara, the Chief Operating Officer of Bates Strategic Alliance has performed this task with such admirable skill that she became this year’s Gold Award winner in the Advertising Category at the ‘Top 50 Professional & Career Women’s Awards’. Bestowed by Women in Management in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC) - a member of the World Bank Group, the highly prestigious accolade is a fitting recognition of Sheron’s strength in managing both her professional career and personal life with equal aplomb.
Now in its seventh edition, the award recognizes women who inspire others, especially ambitious young people, with their success in both career and everyday life. WIM’s theme for 2017 is ‘Beyond Parity – Developing Tomorrow’s Women Leaders’ and the award is an apt celebration of the winner’s ability to perform efficiently and effectively, seizing opportunities and overcoming challenges that come her way.
Tracing Sheron’s progression at Bates illustrates how she was able to face the challenges that crossed her path with a great deal of female intuition. She joined Bates as an Account Manager in 1997 and is now running the Company’s flagship advertising operation as the Chief Operating Officer. “At the time I went into advertising in the early 1990s it was before the advent of computer creativity and I was lucky to have worked in all departments – from audio visual productions, to media and client servicing,” said Sharon reminiscing on how she entered the sphere of advertising.
“None of this would have been a reality if not for my husband Sudath Jayasundara. I lost my father at that time when I had just completed school and was trying to choose my career path. It was a very challenging time. It was Sudath who guided me to the field of advertising and also encouraged me to do my CIM (UK) exams. I would rephrase the famous saying to ‘behind every successful woman is a supportive husband!’ Today, I love my work because of the tremendous support and confidence placed on me by our Chairman, Nimal Gunewardena who gives me the strength I need to overcome the daily challenges we face in the advertising industry. I’m also proud to say that 50% of our professional staff at Bates are women” she said.
Sheron was elected President of Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies (Four As), and has been maintaining this position since 2015, adding considerable value to the advertising industry. There were several significant initiatives introduced after Sheron became President of 4As. “We want to have more young people joining the industry. So we tied up with the Sri Lanka Press Institute to introduce a diploma course in Corporate Communications to attract people into advertising and PR, getting them to see the value of joining the industry,” Sheron recalled.
As President, Sheron was also able to muster the support of the entire industry to implement the much needed Professional Pitch Disbursement Fee. “We have many ideas to bring the professionalism, vibrancy and excitement back to the industry,” said Sheron explaining her role and her aspirations as the head of 4As.
As a working mother, spending quality time with her family is important for Sheron and this is an important element that is very much a part of her daily routine. She is careful to balance her hectic, often stressful professional life with heart-to-heart chats and fun activities with her family. “My daughter Svaraa is 11 years old and it is important for me to know exactly what’s happening in her life, how she is progressing in her studies, and what influences her mind-set. We make the best conversations on our way to school; she is extremely interesting and creative,” said Sheron. “My husband plays a vital role in discussing and agreeing on issues that matter to our family. Peace of mind at home is important for any woman to succeed and rise in the corporate world. My special thanks go my parents for the values in life they taught me which I practice every day” she added.
Photo Captions: Sheron Jayasundara, COO Bates Strategic Alliance - Winner of Gold Award in the Advertising Category at the Women in Management 'Top 50 Professional & Career Women' Awards.