Prassanna Pathmanathan is a name that’s synonymous with the fashion industry in Sri Lanka. Talking to him, Weekend Nation learnt that he is a corporate trainer by profession, with a background in marketing. That is however not the most important thing about Prassanna.
This young entrepreneur has several accolades under his belt including the 2016 TOYP award in the Humanitarian and Voluntary Leadership category. He travels around the country during his free time, training school children, university students, military personnel, garment factory workers, under-privileged rural women and virtually anybody who is willing to listen to become better in terms of how they present themselves. He offers them career guidance, personality and etiquette training completely free of charge.
This initiative by him, where he goes to every nook and corner of the country and trains youth, has been an ongoing project over the past several years where he has trained up to 2500 school children, 3500 university students from the State and private universities, 1000 soldiers, 3000 garment factory employees and around 7000 under-privileged rural women. Prassanna, a product of DS Senanayaka College Colombo, is trilingual and believes that his ability to converse fluently in Sinhala, Tamil and English has immensely helped him in the process of reaching out to more people and actually ‘making it happen’.
Speaking about the content of his seminars, Prassanna said that what he tries to do with school children is to motivate them to do well in their education, drive them to get better grades and instill in them good values that will make them responsible and sensible citizens once they leave school and join the workforce of the country. In the case of university students, Prassanna is keen on helping them be more confident and corporate-ready.
Prassanna has won a number of awards including the Young Creative Entrepreneur Design and Fashion Award in 2012 by the British Council, the award for the Most Outstanding Corporate Trainer in South Asia at the South Asian Partnership Summit in 2016 and the Global Training and Development Award by the World Training and Development Congress, also in 2016.
This dynamic young entrepreneur has also made history as the first ever Asian to panel the Mr. Earth Worldwide Pagent in 2011 and the only Sri Lankan to have choreographed the London Fashion Week. He is currently the youngest member of the Sri Lanka Beauty Council powered by Unilever of which other members include veteran beauty guru Ramani Fernando, Designer Fouzul Hameed and former beauty queen Rozanne Diaz.
He is also a part of the Colombo Fashion Council (CFC) which is geared to enable local talent to find international runways and opportunities. They are also passionate about hosting international events in Sri Lanka as a part of their vision to set the bar high in terms of local industry standards.
The 28 year old credits his ability to converse in all three national languages as the main reason why he has been successful in reaching out to people from every part of the country, from all communities, belonging to all strata of society.
When asked how he manages to find the time to go places and do things despite his busy schedule as a trainer, a fashion consultant and a lecturer of IT and marketing at both Sri Jayewardenepura University and IIT, Prassanna said that he plans everything out meticulously so there is time to do everything he wants to do within a given day. “Being organized is the key”, he declared.
He said that he never feels tired as he really enjoys what he does – training people to change for the better. Prassanna aspires to reach out to more people this year with ‘make it happen’.
“I’d be happy to speak at your school, college or university too if you’re willing to listen”, he said in a sign-off gesture.