Alyna Haji Omar

In conversation with  Ashwini Vethakan


Born in


Alma mater

Ladies’ College

Family members

My husband (Roshan), our sons (Chetan and Charya) and our mad dachshund T-Rex Kuruwita

Wanted to be

An international jewellery thief. I overdosed on Pink Panther growing up… but today, I’ll settle for being tactful and less impulsive

Is (but didn’t want to be)

Completely unfiltered and in charge!


Everyone crazy with my ridiculous backseat driving

Would like to drive

Unworthy people out of public office

A moment you would like to go back to

Studio 54 – any night ever

Best advice received

Fail fast and recover quickly


Likes to play

In the sea, a river, pool, pond, puddle or in the rain all day long

Likes to watch

Anything scary

Most unforgettable event

T in the Park Festival in 2004

Most forgettable event

I don’t remember

Purpose in life

To love and be loved


Mantra to unwind

A great Barolo and an even better playlist at home

Most hated chore

Folding clothes

Impressed by

People who often say what they mean

Happy place




Pet peeves

Compulsive pessimism, victim complexes and sanctimony

What you think about when you’re in the car

How I wish I lived closer to work; I hate VIP vehicles and that people on our roads have no clue regarding what to do when an ambulance is behind them…

Items on your bucket list for the next six months

Given the context of the last seven months, surviving 2020 with humour and a bright idea seems ambitious enough

Three items on the bucket list following retirement

Roshan and I are going to throw away our phones, and take the long and winding route to everything interesting

Three must-haves

A great story, an impossible challenge and magnificent love

What you would like to have

A book I wrote, a movie I made and fewer conspiracy theories 

A little-known fact about you

I love, love, love heavy metal


Day of the week




Chill out spot


Work wear

Capes, kimonos and giant bindis

Leisure wear

Black and easy


Sonali Dharmawardena, KT Brown and Ohé Island


Japanese, Arabic and Italian


Single malt, classic Barolo and passion fruit juice

Local holiday destinations

Trincomalee, Anuradhapura and Kitulgala

Overseas holiday destinations

London, Rome and Amsterdam


Wijaya Beach is my all-time favourite


Meryl Streep, Toni Collette, Olivia Colman and Joaquin Phoenix – the list goes on!


System of a Down, Adele, Amy Winehouse, Bruce Springsteen and Dua Lipa


Too many but I am dipping back into Alexander McCall Smith these days and it is fun! But in truth, my forever favourites are Sharada Gray and the ever phenomenal Miss Wijetilake

Reason the latter is among your favourites

She wrote the Pondicherry Adventures in the early 1980s while we were in primary school. Bits of the original text are scribbled in several 80 page books somewhere

Favourite quote from a movie

“I am the sound of distant thunder” (Versailles) – because I am!

Favourite international sportsperson

I love Serena Williams – because she is fearless

Favourite local civil servant

Dr. Harsha de Silva – because he is angry about the right things and I find him worthy

Favourite international civil servant

Jacinda Ardern – what a magnificent leader!

Obsessed with

Trying to understand why we are so casual about inviting authoritarianism because we give our personal rights away so freely

Likely retirement destination

Somewhere on this gorgeous island of ours


When you dance, you look like…

I am having a very good time

The first thing you notice when meeting someone

If he or she looks me squarely in the face

You know it’s going to be a bad day when…

The phone rings at 6 a.m. 

You’re challenged by

Impossible odds

Recently laughed out loud when

When my eight-year-old wanted an Annabelle or inverted cross birthday cake… my love of horror so artfully passed along!

Saddened when

Good people remain silent

Advertising has the power to

Influence change

Colombo in a few words

Dramatic, maddeningly hypocritical and deeply interesting

Sri Lanka in a few words

Full of contradictions and platitudes, but wildly magical and wonderfully insatiable – I love us

Sri Lanka will have a chance to develop when…

We can truly reflect inward with honesty and when we value equality

The world is…

What you make it

Message of positivity in these trying times

Opportunity is everywhere – be fearless and unapologetic about the ambition with which you mine it


Memory skills on a scale of 0 to 10


Computer ability in one word

A 10 – aren’t we all?!

Most productive in the morning, noon or night


A leader or follower by nature


Cook or foodie


Quality or quantity


The glass is half full or half empty      

Always half full

Work or play after retirement


The most delightful word you can think of


Do you consider yourself to be a student or teacher?

A student

A technology that you think will transform the future

Ulterior motive scanner

Your most used word or phrase

I have a magical and radiant arsenal of swear words

Work out preferences


Role models

My mum and dad

Yourself in a few words

In love with my life

Motto in life

Have courage in all things at all times

Alyna is the Chief Executive Officer of Wunderman Thompson Sri Lanka