Lilamani Dias Benson
MullenLowe Sri Lanka
(Formally LDB Lintas)
Those who had the good fortune to have known and worked with Lilamani Dias Benson would probably be familiar with her ‘favourite poem’ by Christopher Logue, which she was wont to recite on occasion.
Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came,
And he pushed
And they flew.
Here was a woman who often described herself as a dreamer but who was in fact, a force of nature. This poem of which she was so fond reveals an analogy for her life – of getting out of her comfort zone to do things she perhaps thought beyond her capabilities and then to soar. And having unleashed this potential in herself, she set out to release it in others.
The English language was a particular passion and she used her skill and talent with words to give vent to her originality, and shine as both an account and a creative director. For these her star qualities, Benson was head hunted to set up the ad agency she was so well known for, by the Interpublic Group of New York at the special request of its biggest multinational client – Unilever.
And so Lowe Lintas came to Sri Lanka, and Benson became the Founder CEO of Lowe LDB, which soon made its mark as one of the leading ad agencies complete with an impressive client portfolio, awards and recognition for its campaigns, and kudos as the only agency to be named a Superbrand in Sri Lanka – all often attributed to the professional excellence she demanded.
She had a very rare quality of leadership – of having no truck with insecurities and concerns about being shown up by abler employees. She had no reservations about acknowledging and recognising that others could be much better at something than she was, and relentlessly pursuing and hiring that talent into her agency. She would never hire ordinary talent, for she said that “mediocrity breeds mediocrity.”
Benson dominated her field because she subscribed to provoking a ‘culture of excellence.’ She loved what she was doing and truly desired to imbue that sense of distinction; she demanded perfection, for she understood the power of ideas. And the several of her acolytes who have gone on to achieve success and recognition are testament to this ethos of that unique LDB brand.
Lilamani Dias Benson: the lady who pushed so others would fly.