Namalee Silva’s opinions on the local insurance industry
As seasoned professional in the corporate world with over 25 years of experience in the Marketing and Public Relations disciplines, Namalee Silva has dominated the Marketing in the Insurance Industry.
Throughout her career, she has displayed a proven track record of achieving corporate objectives in challenging environments along with the development of high performing dedicated teams to meet corporate objectives. As a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (UK), Namalee is currently the Deputy General Manager – Marketing for Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation, the largest and strongest composite insurance provider in Sri Lanka.
Can you tell us about your firm and what it is involved in?
We are Sri Lanka Insurance, pioneer of the insurance industry of Sri Lanka with over 5 decades of experience. Since the inception in 1962, we embarked a journey to inculcate the importance of protection across the country. Throughout our illustrious journey we have witnessed the dynamics of changing social and economic conditions, yet we have stood the ultimate test of time.
As an insurer, we educate and encourage people to have prudent financial practices and prepare themselves for unforeseen circumstances which may arise in the future. We are at the forefront of the insurance industry, providing total insurance solutions to our customers and we strive to provide innovative insurance solutions to match customer needs.
We have a vision of protecting our nation and we have the necessary expertise and resources to fulfill our vision. SLIC has an impeccable product portfolio in the life insurance sector as well as in the non – life insurance sector, covering an array of various insurance needs of customers.
What is your outlook on the industry as a whole?
In a country like Sri Lanka, people face risks, but they do not view it as an external element and as a result, they are accustomed to living with risks. The concept of insurance is not a priority for people. Lower disposable income levels, inbuilt cultural norms of inter-dependability of generations and the availability of free state medical services can be attributed to the reluctance in adapting to the concept of insurance.
However, we have observed positive growth and there is an intense competition among the insurance companies operating in the domestic market. New markets are emerging through social and digital platforms and the industry is expanding through shifting paradigms.
International companies are entering the arena and they bring global insights and best practices to the market. Insurers are also further challenged to create more sophisticated products and fierce market strategies to match with the emerging tech savvy generation.
What sets SLIC apart from the competition?
Being a government owned entity, trust and stability are the pillars of SLIC and we have an incomparable product portfolio for individuals as well as corporates. SLIC is the only insurer in the country to be endorsed by AAA (lka) Fitch rating for financial strength and stability. We have been awarded 3 prestigious accolades for the Most Valuable General Insurance Brand in Sri Lanka, the Most Loved Insurance Brand in Sri Lanka and the 3rd Most Loved Consumer Brand in Sri Lanka by Brand Finance. We have an enviable Asset base of Rs.197 billion, the largest in the industry, and also a life fund of Rs.105 billion – the largest in the industry. SLIC has declared the largest life insurance bonus of Rs.7.6 billion, the highest ever in the history of the insurance industry in Sri Lanka.
What are the challenges associated with marketing in this industry?
In a country like Sri Lanka where society is accustomed to risks and lacks long term financial planning, it is a vital duty for marketing teams to be engaged in making the cultural shift from an easy-go, quick win mindset of society into a more disciplined and longsighted planning mindset. Marketing should be open to embrace challenges while maintaining a balance between emotional and rational message deliveries. The approach should be emotional in order to induce the cultural change and should be rational to drive in the benefits, ensuring that a balance is achieved.
How do you view the gender based stereotyping present in Sri Lanka’s corporate atmosphere?
In the past, there were very few women at the top. It is really encouraging and a treat to see this trend reversing rapidly as more women are taking the top seats of the corporate world. It is a challenge as you climb to the top as a woman, but if you display the right knowledge, confidence, education and experience, then there is no competition. If you are innovative enough to make a differentiation, then it will be difficult to be stereotyped.
What is the secret to balancing work and personal life?
As a woman, it is a challenge to balance both scales. It requires frequent amendments to your planned lifestyle. Importance should be given to clearly drawing the line between your professional and personal goals. The first rule of balancing the two ends would be to dedicate quality time of the day to each of these functions. Never take your work home or vice versa. Planning the day’s agenda well ahead is the second rule of maintaining the balance. Next would be the delegation of work and authority at your workplace to your subordinates. Nurture them to build a good team and empower them.
What advice do you have for young women, awaiting their debut in the corporate world?
My advice to all young ladies out there would be to choose a career that you love doing. If you love what you do, you wouldn’t have to work a day in your life! You would also require education to back your career and patience to gain experience. There is a world of opportunities awaiting you, don’t let any obstacle stop you.