The one thing that will define Echelon magazine will be the quality of the storytelling. Echelon, published monthly, will cover in depth Sri Lanka’s most successful businesses, examine their winning strategies and profile their leaders in immersive stories.
Echelon’s New Establishment 100 list details the most innovative and influential leaders who have succeeded in business. Private sector firms are central to the economy because they produce almost all goods and services, create jobs and contribute to much of the economic growth. It’s difficult to imagine what the world would be like without the contribution of private businesses.
This Month Echelon magazine covers Kemal De Soysa, Executive Director at International Distillers Ltd (IDL). A Ph.D. in history of science at Cambridge was followed, somewhat unexpectedly, by his first role in finance at outsourced investment research and analytics support firm Amba Research (now Moody’s Analytics Knowledge Services.
He joined what was then a small firm when he returned to Sri Lanka in 2004 and worked there for almost a decade as it grew to 850 employees, becoming country head for Sri Lanka. In 2013 he left to join the family business International Distillers (IDL). Around the same time, he also co-founded LYNEAR Wealth Management, a boutique asset manager where he continues as director of legal and compliance.
Having held various responsibilities at IDL since joining, in June 2019, de Soysa became chief executive. He continues to put his financial acumen to good use overseeing the investments under the family-run holding company. IDL is Sri Lanka’s second-largest importer and manufacturer of alcohol products with over 20 brands including Old Reserve Arrack, Ascot Gin and Calypso Rum.
De Soysa aims to build connections with IDL’s customers that go beyond the price and focus on quality and reliability. He hopes the common local perception of Sri Lankan products as inferior to imported ones will change. He would also like to see better quality control established, and people move away from basic liquor, which accounts for 30-50% of the market and can be very harmful.
Arrack, “a uniquely Sri Lankan product that can take its place on the world stage,” is a particular focus for IDL. Recently IDL launched a premium version of Old Reserve for export. Success for de Soysa will be when IDL brands are viewed as the best in their category world over, as well as their export brands being treated as equivalent to internationally produced options globally.
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