Unilever SPARKS Youth Forum introduces Purpose to the Lives of Young Leaders

In its quest to engage the youth on purpose driven leadership, Unilever Sri Lanka’s annual Youth Forum, organized by the Unilever student ambassadors – SPARKS, this year featured a very rich dialogue on the theme ‘Purpose’. With over 800 applicants – out of which 200 delegates were selected to participate in the forum – the 2018 edition attracted several young leaders who are passionate and willing to contribute towards positive change. These individuals, who are undergraduates selected from varied universities across the island, had the opportunity to meet industry professionals and network with other influential advocates while sharing their ideas on how purpose driven people enable businesses to be driven by purpose. The forum began with a welcome note by Mr. Carl Cruz – Chairman of Unilever Sri Lanka who stressed upon the role of the youth in driving positive change through purpose driven leadership. This was followed by 6 distinguished speakers, including Mr. Insaf Bakeer Markar – Official Sri Lankan Youth delegate to the United Nations – 2018/19 and Founder of the National Youth Model United Nations in Sri Lanka. Mr. Bathiya Jayakody and Mr. Santhush Weeraman – singers and composers at BNS Productions – then took to stage to share stories of their challenging yet inspiring life journeys and their discovery of what truly drove them to achieve their success as youth icons. A panel discussion at the end of the evening saw individuals from various backgrounds take to the ‘Hot Seat’ to answer a series of purpose related questions which were thrown their way. This was followed by an insightful discussion on their choice of answers, making the session a highly interactive one where the audience had the opportunity to engage. The panelists included Mr. Sumeet Verma – Director Human Resources at Unilever Sri Lanka, whose key message was titled ‘Companies with purpose last & brands with purpose grow’; Ms. Achala Samaradivakara – Founder of Good Market Colombo who was awarded the Young Woman Entrepreneur of the year 2017 along with Social Entrepreneur for the year 2017 – spoke on how ‘People and businesses with purpose thrive’; and Mr. Farhan Bahaman – Finance Excellence Manager at Unilever Sri Lanka who’s subject was ‘Point of view on Purpose and how our students can relate it to their day-to-day life’. The main objective of the forum was to provide an environment where the youth can share experiences on the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment they live in. It encouraged them to follow their purpose and find a direction and pathway to building their lives with meaning. The evening also saw the SPARKS student ambassadors entertain the audience with performances related to ‘purpose’, between sessions, and ended on a high note with the audience joining in on the celebrations.  About Unilever: Unilever Sri Lanka is one of the largest FMCG companies in Sri Lanka, with 27 market leading brands in categories such as Home Care, Personal Care and Foods. Established in Sri Lanka in 1938 with brands such as Sunlight, Lux and Pears. Unilever’s corporate purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace, and the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan sets out to decouple the company’s growth from environmental impact, while increasing its positive social impact. The Plan has three big goals that by 2020 will help improve people’s health and well-being, reduce the company’s environmental footprint, and enhance livelihoods across its value chain. For more information about Unilever, please visit www.unilever.com.lk Photo captions: (Above) Unilever Sri Lanka Chairman Carl Cruz addressing the forum and (below) a cross section of the students at the forum

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