Personal Information
Born:8th April 1934
Nationality:Sri Lankan
Education:S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia
Occupation:Marketing Director & Corporate Affairs Manager at Ceylon Tobacco Company, Guest Lecturer, University of Colombo
Title:
Spouse:Flora Williams
Parents:Victor Corea and Vivienne
 
 
SRI SANGABO COREA

SRI SANGABO COREA the son of Charles Edward Victor Senewiratne Corea and Vivienne, is the seventh in a family of 6 girls and 2 boys. He was born in "Sinhapura" - Puttalam Road, Chilaw on the 8th of April 1934. After a brief spell of education at Holy Family Convent and St. Mary's College in Chilaw, he entered S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, the school where his father had been educated. Sangabo was initially expected to become a lawyer and a politician, as his father had sharpened his skills in the art of speaking, prompting his mother to affectionately refer to him as "The Honourable Mister Speaker". His mother, a simple village lady from Madampe brought them up to fall in line with the father's perception of exemplary children. It was decided that neither Vickrama (his brother) nor Sangabo should pursue studies abroad, because of their mother’s fears with regard to western culture, and what was viewed as its permissive freedom.

Whilst continuing his higher studies at Aquinas University, he was pushed into applying for a job at Lever Brothers (Ceylon) Limited by one of his Thomian friends, and was selected. Posted to the Up-country, Uva and Eastern Provinces he gained a working knowledge of the Tamil Language within a month, surpassing the highest sales figures in the region. He served as Area Sales Manager, Merchandising Manager, Promotions Manager, Manager - Company Organized Media, Brand Manager - Astra Margarine and lastly Product Manager - Foods. In addition, he was appointed Film Star Contact Manager for Lux Toilet Soap and was given the sole responsibility of handling all Product Launches and important Annual Events such as The Sports Meet, Christmas Party, Inter-Departmental Good House-Keeping Awards Nite, Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Show sponsored by Lifebuoy and Sports Club Nite. He was the recipient of a number of Awards and Letters of Commendation from the Company for his individual contribution. A unique achievement of his was the designing of a mobile low cost display unit which was featured in the Unilever Worldwide newsletter with the recommendation for adoption within the Unilever network to strengthen Unilever products at the point-of-sale. He became the only Manager who was from time to time put in charge of running a gamut of marketing operations and his rise within the company was rapid.

During his posting in Ratnapura he discovered local talent in singers Clarence Wijeyawardena, Annesley Malawana and Indrani Perera grooming and launching them into the world of music along with the musical group `The Moonstones’. Clarence as a warm gesture of gratitude composed two songs dedicated to Sangabo’s daughters, Ramani and Dilhani.

Nominated to attend a Unilever Training Course at Hindustan Lever Bombay, he was on an attachment with the company. He also had a stint in advertising at Lintas Advertising in Bombay and was nominated to attend yet another Unilever Training Course at Rose Garden Hotel in Bangkok at the end of which he was on an attachment with Lever Brothers - Thailand. He also had a stint at J. Walter Thompson, Bangkok. On both occasions, he was elected Chairman to organize the participants Farewell Nite Social which he organized and compered.

His services were retained by the Export Promotion Secretariat in 1973, to organize the first ever Export Exhibition at the BMICH, for visiting chain store buyers - Karstad & Kaufring - Germany, Woolworth - UK and Sears Roebuck - United States, whilst also functioning as the Adviser to 180 stall holders. Its success necessitated the Export Promotion Secretariat to repeat the exhibition and Sangabo's services were loaned once again, to organize the exhibition for the second time. In 1975, the Sri Lanka Meals For Millions Foundation requested Sangabo's services to organize "Poshanaya" an exhibition on rice substitutes, declared open by then Prime Minister, Sirimavo Bandaranaike. In 1977, 1978 and 1979, he was invited to be the Master of Ceremonies at the Presentation of Export Awards, organized by The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at the BMICH.

Appointed a Visiting Lecturer for the Executive Diploma in Business Administration Course conducted by the University of Colombo, he was a popular choice to address Seminars & Workshops organized by the Sri Lanka Marketing Institute and Private Sector entities, including Service Organizations.

In 1981, Ceylon Tobacco Company Limited recruited its first Corporate Affairs Manager, and Sangabo was picked for the job, at a time when the anti-smoking lobby was pushing the government for restrictions in advertising, promotions and sports sponsorships. He was then the Chairman of the Royal-Thomian Cricket Match and took the decision to mask the giant cigarette cut-outs from the SSC Grounds' scoreboard and all forms of cigarette advertisements were removed, on the principle that it was unethical to expose schoolboys to cigarette advertising. The Minister of Health who was a spectator, commended the company for taking such a decision. With the World Health Organization (WHO) pressing for stringent restrictions on the company's marketing operations, Sangabo faced an uphill task protecting the industry against these onslaughts and as Corporate Affairs Manager succeeded in preserving the company's rights until he retired and for a short time served as a consultant. He was commended by British Tobacco Company's head office in London for his Corporate Plan that identified the need to organize Public Relations Projects, which was to be used to be used as a case history and circulated to other companies.

Whilst at CTC, Sangabo was appointed to the Board of British Ceylon Corporation and took over the function of Marketing Director. He restructured the Sales & Marketing Departments and discontinued all activities that were counter-productive to the organization. His announcement that all would earn their living though hard-work and not commissions and that achieving targets would be rewarded, resulted in a petition addressed to President J. R. Jayewardene, which was ignored. Sangabo then started his own company in Advertising & Marketing, recruiting young school leavers and giving them a thorough training. He founded Skills Advertising & Marketing and handled some of the most challenging and prestigious accounts including international brands which were highly commended by their principals in the U.K. In a farewell address to his staff he handed over the company to his employees as a gesture of goodwill and left for the United States, ending a full-time working career.

Sangabo played a major role in the activities of the S. Thomas' College Old Boys' Association (OBA), being three times its Secretary. He was Treasurer of the Royal-Thomian Centenary Cricket Match and later Secretary and three times its Chairman. He also served six times as Chairman of the Thomian Nite Dinner-Dance, raising funds for the Bishop Chapman Scholarships. He was also Joint Secretary of the Royal-Thomian Centenary Fair & Exhibition, and Joint Secretary and Chief Organizer of the Trade Stalls in the subsequent Thomian Fair. As Secretary of the Colombo South Jaycees he was adjudged its Most Outstanding Jaycee and in the following year as President was a delegate of the Sri Lanka Jaycees to the Jaycees International Asian Conference in Hong Kong. One of his projects - OCTOBER BREEZE - a power-packed entertainer organized on the Galle Face Green, designed and spearheaded by him to raise funds for the Sri Lanka Cancer Society at the request of Mrs. Siva Obeyesekere, Minister of Health was a success, as was his community service project captioned KEEP THE CITY CLEAN which won an appreciation award. He joined Lions International and in his run-up to hold the post of Deputy District Governor, held a variety of Cabinet appointments. Sangabo organized 8 Multi-Service Health Camps in Tangalle, Beliatte, Hanwella, Matugama, Embilipitiya, Walapane, Ratnapura and in Wellawatte where the specialist doctors worked for 2 consecutive days in each health camp and organized the free dispensing of quality medicines. The Minister of Health who visited every health camp was of the view that none of the government hospitals could afford the free issue of such expensive medicines.

His biggest fund-raiser for the Lions, came in the form of the Lions Film Star Cricket Festival, organized at the Tyronne Fernando Stadium in Moratuwa, where every film actor, actress and radio artiste participated in a cricket match followed by a variety entertainment designed and spearheaded by Sangabo and his committee at which the Chief Guest was Minister Gamini Dissanayake. All the tickets were soon sold out and with pressure mounting from a restless crowd,  the committee decided to sell the counterfoils and after even the counterfoils were sold accommodated the spectators in a seating arrangement on the ground filling up the space right up to the boundary line. The project won an Award with Sangabo receiving many letters of commendation and appreciation.

Soon after his return from the Lions Convention in Hawaii, he organized a project with the caption GIVE WHAT YOU CAN to collect and distribute food, clothing and personal items amongst the Tamil families who had been the victims of the ethnic riots. Lorry loads of donations were collected and Bradman Weerakoon said a personal 'Thank You' to the Lions, for a successful project organized at short notice. Sangabo was selected LION OF THE YEAR 1982/83 by a panel of judges headed by Past District Governor Lion Mahendra Amarasuriya and received his Award from President J. R. Jayewardene at the BMICH. In the following year, he was again adjudged LION OF THE YEAR but suggested that the award be given to the runner-up, since he had already been the recipient of this award in the previous year.

In early 1970, he was invited to contest the Chilaw constituency in the general election as the United National Party (UNP) candidate, but he could not accept as he was leaving on an overseas assignment which could not be postponed. Sangabo married Flora Williams and they are the parents of Ramani (UK), Dilhani (Japan), Sharmini (USA) and Sanjeeva.



 
 
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