Niroshini Pethiyagoda

In conversation with Ruwandi Perera

What did you want to become when you were a child?
I didn’t have any definite plans when I was young. But I remember that I never wanted to be a doctor, in spite of being exposed to the medical profession at many dinner table conversations. But I wanted a career for sure.

Your alma mater was…?
Ladies’ College

If you weren’t involved in this sector today, what would you be doing?
I love architecture and design, interior decorating and also fashion designing. I would have probably pursued a career in one of these professions.

Briefly describe your family…
It’s the three of us – my husband Isuru, my son Vivek and I!

What’s your typical working day like?
It’s an early morning start at 5.45 a.m. I prepare my son for school, and then try to have at least a 40-minute workout. I’m usually at work by 8.30 in the morning. My day at work is usually busy, with many unplanned situations, which makes it interesting.

I am home by 6 p.m. at the latest on a regular day, following which I receive a string of calls from my son. Most often, I cook dinner and it is family time from thereon, unless I have to attend to urgent office-related work.

Could you share your favourite memory with us, Niroshini?
Probably the day my son was born! I remember being terrified all my life of having children; but when the day arrived, it was something I’ll never forget. I was also thrilled and happy that it was a boy!

If you have six months off work, what would you like to do?
I would like to travel, shop, make some additional visits to the salon, and spend time with my family and close friends. Extra-long walks and a daily visit to the gym will also be must-dos.

What do you love the most about your job?
There’s never a dull day at work – it’s full of excitement! Very rarely can I stick to a planned day, as there are many unforeseen situations that need my attention. And that keeps me going.

What are your favourite places to visit in Sri Lanka?
Anywhere I’d find a beach, particularly along the east coast. I even enjoy unplanned short day trips to Hikkaduwa for a swim. And I love visiting national parks.

Your favourite overseas holiday destinations are…?
I love discovering new cities. I’m very much a ‘city person,’ so I generally love big cities, with all the cafés, food and retail therapy they offer.

And what are your three favourite brands?
KT Brown, La’Sari and Prada.

Where do you shop most often?
It depends on whether I find what I like. If I find what I like, I try and help myself – irrespective of where I am!

How do you relax?
By listening to music and entertaining – I love to cook and have friends over. I also enjoy doing things around the house. That’s a form of relaxation!

What are your hobbies or interests?
Travelling and music – both classical and pop. Now, I have an extra infusion of pop, thanks to my son’s influence!

What has offered you the greatest sense of professional achievement?
That is a difficult question! In my professional career, I’ve had to deal with many stakeholders, with different needs and demands. I guess my greatest professional achievement is that I have never compromised on my values, and always done what I believe is right.

What don’t you enjoy doing professionally, but have to because work demands it?
I wouldn’t be investing or wasting time in something I didn’t enjoy.

Who is your role model?
My greatest influence and role model has been my father, who was also my greatest friend.

How do you handle difficult people?
First, I listen to the other person’s point of view. Then, I try to see how best I should respond.

Your all-time favourite movie is…?
I don’t watch many movies. But sometimes I enjoy watching a drama series. The Thorn Birds was one of my favourites.

What are your favourite books?
I mostly read biographies. I am currently reading In Situ – An Architectural Memoir from Sri Lanka by Ulrik Plesner. My husband bought this sometime ago and insisted that it is a must-read.

Is there a song that moves or best describes you?
Intermezzo – from the opera Cavalleria rusticana

What inspires you the most?

Your favourite colour – and why?
Black – because I think it is eternal

What is your next goal in life?
To move on to something more challenging – possibly managing and being responsible for the success of a business entity!

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
There’s nothing that I would want to change right now

Describe yourself in one word…

Niroshini is the Deputy General Manager/Head – Marketing of Sri Lanka Insurance