Laila Gunesekere-Martenstyn

In conversation with Ashwini Vethakan


Born in

Alma mater
Bishop’s College

Family members
My amazing husband, our four great sons and two incredibly naughty puppies –  and my brother, mother and in-laws (all of whom are super) 

Wanted to be
A topnotch dancer

An advertising professional

I never drive… I’m driven in a Mercedes-Benz

I do love to swim but it messes up my blow-dry!

Moments you would like to go back to
I have two memories – the first would be my fairytale wedding and second, my university days

Best advice received
If you want the rainbow, put up with the rain

Impressed by
People who treat others well and with kindness


Happy place
Being with my happy person 

Work out preference
Lifting one leg 

Like to watch
A variety of Netflix offerings 

One new thing you tried this year
Qualifying to be a counsellor

Saddened when
I lose a precious person or pet

Most unforgettable events
I have two unforgettable events – the first is the birth of my children and second is my husband Howard’s super-romantic proposal

Success to you is
Best achieved one rung at a time and with no helping hand 

in life
To get closer to God and add joy in some way to the lives of others 

Items on your bucket list for the next six months
To be able to fit into my old jeans, travel and get closer to God 

Items on the bucket list following retirement
Spend tons of time with those I love, become a great counsellor and teach English 

Pet peeves
Traffic jams, long queues and power cuts


Mantra to unwind
Feet up, a glass of wine in hand and good chat with someone I love

Most hated chore
Cleaning saucepans 

Cooking and trying new diets 

Three must-haves
My hair colour, eyeliner and bronze lipstick 

Unlikely food combination
Chilli ice cream

Challenged by
Technology that moves faster than I can blink

Desired quality in a friend
Being there for me no matter what – I have a few like that

Your perfect date
At my age, you’ll find dates in a packet in the fruit section

The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you
As I said before, my husband’s impromptu proposal and him singing for me at our wedding– I’ll never forget those two moments

Likely retirement destination
I’d like to split my time between Sri Lanka and Canada – I have wonderful memories of Canada 


Day of the week
Saturday – because I still have Sunday to chill

Pink and red

Gin and tonic with a kochi miris in it; Bloody Mary with celery salt; and Captain Cook’s rum with ginger ale

Places to eat
Anywhere Japanese because I’m a sushi freak

Chill out spot
My super-comfy bed with heaps of pillows

TV show
This changes all the time

Robert Downey Jr.

I tend to have a new favourite every year

Both Sides Now (by Joni Mitchell) and Streets of London (by Ralph McTell)

Way too many to mention but I read the Bible every night

Obsessed with
Making the most of every day – I wake up very early and go to sleep very late


The first thing you need after waking up is…
A hug, if possible

The first thing you notice when meeting someone is…
His or her eyes

Recently laughed out loud when…
I laugh out loud at least 10 times a day

You know it’s going to be a bad day when…
A client calls at 6 o’clock in the morning

You find yourself challenged by…
The selfish and self-centred people I meet all the time

One thing you’d change about yourself…
My impatience

The best thing about advertising and communications is…
It’s a different challenge every day

Your day off…
Honestly, it’s as busy as my workday

A new technology that will transform the future is…
One that makes human beings more human

Children are…
Totally awesome

Last gift to someone…
A very personal video I made 

Sri Lanka in a few words…
Spectacular, diverse and complex 


A language you’d like to master
I have zero interest in learning another language

Most productive in the morning, noon or night
Morning, for sure 

A leader or follower by nature
Leader at work but a follower at home

Cook or foodie

Quality or quantity

The glass is half full or half empty
Would anyone actually say ‘half empty’? 

Work or play after retirement
A bit of both

The most delightful word you can think of

If you were a colour, it would be…
Vibrant pink

Most used words or phrases
Shut up

Role models
My husband for his passion and Mother Teresa for her compassion

Yourself in a few words
Eclectic, colourful, loyal and pretty much off the wall

Laila is the Vice President of the Dentsu Grant Group