Making 'Being a Woman' a Pride: Caryll Van Dort
As the Cover Story of October 2017 the Lanka Woman magazine featured Caryll Van Dort, the Group Director of MSL Sri Lanka. She was honoured among the Top 50 Professional Women at the “Women in Management Awards” in Sri Lanka.
Lanka Woman: Can you share some beautiful memories from your childhood?
Caryll Van Dort: I had a very memorable childhood, I came from a typically middle class family but a not so typically Burgher family. I had a strict upbringing but had lots of fun growing up. 'There was always a lot of love and laughter in our home. I grew up in a neighborhood that had lots of kids who were of the same age as my brother and l, so we had many friends growing up, some of them are still very close to us.
My school career at Methodist College was very memorable, I made friends for life at Metho, like my childhood friend, Dinuka, and she is still my best friend. Life was always very active with school, sporLs, Sunday school and church, youth meetings and lots and lots of friends.
LW: Today, you are a leading figure in the PR industry. Is this what you wanted to be when you were a child?
CVD: Not really, but I was always a people person, so I wanted to get into the hotel trade. I didn't. But I did a short stint in the travel trade before moving into advertising and then into Public Relations.
LW: How did you enter the field of public relations?
CVD: I was working at Leo Burnett as a Brand Manager when the internal vacancy came up. I was lucky because I had a boss (Ranil) who believed in my ability and offered this absolute fresher a chance. It worked for me and I haven't looked back since!
LW: You have been in the PR industry and have succeeded. Tell us about the skills and qualities one should have, in order to be successful in this industry.
CVD: You first need to be a people person and you need to be well grounded. You need to be able to communicate and interact with people from all kinds of backgrounds and places, this is very important. You also need to be level headed and ethical. But more than anything you need to be able to embody your brand and believe in its potential, if you are the first ambassador for that brand, good PR begins there.
LW: PR people are the people behind the scene who execute the real work. What are the benefits of being behind the scene people?
CVD: I think the benefits are vast. You get to meet lots of different people and be a part of the evolution of a brand or service.
The work is also really varied and no day is the same. This gives me immense energy and I wake up every morning looking forward to a memorable day.
This industry is very dynamic, the opportunities to work on diverse businesses and with diverse people, are abundant. You just need to see it that way. Being behind-the-scenes enables you to get a holistic picture of what is happening, and what needs to happen.
You make connections with people from the bottom up, and you are better equipped to make decisions about the brand and people's response to it.
LW: As a woman, do you believe this is a good industry for women to be employed in? Why?
CVD: As a hardworking human being, I don't believe that there is any field that we can't get into and excel in. We women are capable of everything, it's often our belief system that limits us. Self-belief, hard-work and ambition are the keys to success for anyone to excel in any field.
LW: As a professional in the field of PR, give your suggestions to improve the PR industry in Sri Lanka.
CVD: I believe that we need to come together as an industry. This is how we can support each other to grow. The advertising industry is thriving today because of this. We can do it too. There is so much to share and so much to learn from each other.
LW: You have climbed up the career ladder amidst tears and joy. What is your message to all the enthusiastic young women who have just started their career journeys?
CVD: First find your niche, don't follow the masses. Really believe in what you do and put your heart into your work. Nothing good in life comes without hard work and some sacrifice, be willing to do both.
Most importantly, believe in yourself and your ability! It's also about your attitude in general. You can learn and find inspiration from everything and everyone around you.
This interview is an excerpt from the cover story published on the Lanka Woman’s magazine.