How Dak Liyanearachchi Got Ahead

I stumbled in through quite a roundabout route, starting off in IT, moving on to databases, then to database marketing, then finally to marketing.

Dak Liyanearachchi

Catalina Marketing
Job title:
Senior Vice President, Global Retail Solutions

What made you want to get into brands/advertising/media/marketing?:
I stumbled in through quite a roundabout route, starting off in IT, moving on to databases, then to database marketing, then finally to marketing.

How did you get into the industry (including relevant qualifications and professional training)?:
I went from IT and data warehousing to customer marketing databases. This naturally led me more into the direct marketing space. I have spent most of my career on the services side for retail and FMCG suppliers.
What was good and bad about your first job?: It gave me an excellent grounding in business knowledge, but being a programmer wasn’t for me – I didn’t like the lack of personal interaction.

List your jobs to date:
I have been in the industry for a number of years, working with blue chip companies advising on customer management strategies. I worked at Dunnhumby in a range of positions, including Global Business Development Director and Client Solutions Director, working with large retailers to use customer insight to drive business value. I then moved to the main board of call centre and customer data supply management firm LBM, and from there to my current position at Catalina Marketing.

What were the best and worst, and why?:
I learned a lot from working at Dunnhumby about IT and marketing, emerging trends in the marketplace and working with retailers on a global scale. I don’t think any of my previous jobs were bad experiences – every one has been a learning curve and helped to bring me to where I am today.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?:
David Stone, for making me realise early on in my career that a combination of IT process and business knowledge is a powerful combination in any industry.

Who in the industry do you most admire?:
For pure knowledge and thought leadership in the market, I’d have to say Clive Humby. He also knows the importance of working hard but playing hard as well.

What is your biggest achievement to date?:
It is incredibly satisfying working with retailers to help them become more customer-centric. At one point I was working with a large retailer, and our strategy delivered a ROI within 12 weeks – a considerable achievement for all concerned.

On what do you base your success so far?:
Commitment, taking the time to listen to others, and a pragmatic approach.

What are your ambitions?:
To play a role in moving the customer management industry forward.
Change one thing about your job: I wouldn’t change anything at the moment. My role at Catalina is new and challenging, and gives me the chance to work with retailers across the world.

Change one thing about your industry:
I would like to see more of a strategic and joined up approach to multi-channel targeted marketing. There are lots of businesses talking about it, but very few have implemented a truly holistic approach.

Change one thing about the world:
I’m sure I speak for most people when I say that world peace and eliminating child poverty would be a great place to start.

What is your favourite brand?:
Google – it shows what can be achieved in a short amount of time with a good product, through the development and growth of a strong advocate base.

List your “media diet”:
The usual suspects in the marketing and retail press.


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