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Shameer Rasooldeen, youngest CEO in town, shares his experiences. A journey to remember

“When I was using to work 16 hours a day, many people have told me saying I can never be a Director and that throwing in so much effort was unnecessary. I used to tell them that I’ll never settle for anything less than the most. While everyone was concentrated on aiming for the stars and wind up on a treetop, I was focused on touching the stars and savoring success. I became the youngest News Director at 26 and became the youngest CEO at 31. I won two international awards and filed over 50 stories for CNN and Channel News Asia and today, I’m an Alumni of St. Cross College, University of Oxford. A boy who couldn’t put down a sentence in English made the impossible happen, and I owe it to one man. Mr. R. Rajamahendran is my Chief executive,” Shameer Rasooldeen, a Journalist turned Tea Professional, explained.

Shameer began his career as a journalist but is today the Chief Executive Officer of A.F. Jones Exporters Ceylon (Pvt) Limited, a Capital Maharaja Investment firm. He’s also the host of ‘Face the Nation,’ a weekly current events show in Sri Lanka that covers social and political issues. Shameer worked as a lawyer at News1st for 13 years, climbed the ranks to become the corporation’s youngest Director of English News. In 2014, he was named Sri Lanka’s Outstanding Young Personality of the Year, and in 2016, he was selected an Asia21 Young Leadership. In 2007, he was elected a CNN Fellow, and in 2012, he earned the Dag Hammarskjold Scholarship. Shameer’s journalism earned him a Silver Medal at the United Nations Correspondents Awards in 2013 and a Best Feature Report of the Year award at the CNN World Report Awards in 2008. He has an MBA and is a skilled HR professional (UK). He is also a CRISP fellow (2019), having completed the task at the University of Oxford’s St. Cross College.

When Shameer was pushed to promote a product to rural areas as the youngest Director of English News, he introduced ‘News 1st UReport.’ This was a venue for all Sri Lankans to report real news from the comfort of home using their mobile phones. “We noticed a ton of potential in this, so we worked on it,” he continued. Today, the overwhelming amount of UReporters work as provincial correspondents. A network of even more than 50,000 American citizens is growing. Over 50,000 UReporters are members of a growing network.”

 

“In 2016, Mr. Jayantha Monnekulame, my tea mentor, said to me, ‘You don’t have to know your tea to sell tea; you have to have the passion,’ when I was worried that migrating from the media sector to the tea market will be complicated,” Shameer recalled.

Nowadays, A.F. Jones is one of the Maharaja Group’s fastest-growing companies, thanks to Shameer’s leadership and guidance, and he complimented his younger and passionate staff for their accomplishment.

The Tea industry has recently faced numerous challenges, including the glyphosate restriction and the problem of labour costs. When questioned about the glyphosate restriction, the industry professional indicated that the government’s incorrect thinking had a tremendous effect on the industry and people’s livelihoods.

Awards and accolades

– Silver Medal at the United Nations Correspondents Association Awards (UNCA Awards) – 2013
– Most Outstanding Young Person of the Year (TOYP) – 2014
– Member of Asia 21 list of young leaders – 2017
– Best Executive Officer of 2018-2019
– Youngest News Director of Sri Lanka
– Youngest CEO of Sri Lanka
– Chevening Fellow 2019
– CNN Fellow 2007
– Dag Hammersjkold Fellow 2012
– Best feature report of the year, CNN WR Awards 2007