Asanka de Silva
MBA 2010Alumni 100
Founder and CEO of Liver Health UK
After working for Coca-Cola, John West and the Famous Grouse, Asanka de Silva became an entrepreneur 'by accident'.
A family illness set him on a mission to normalise the conversation around liver disease—only 38% of which is attributed to alcohol.
His solution? Create an antioxidant drink that donates 5% from each sale to liver research. By championing the cause, he's using his brand to fund research that could help save lives.
How does it feel to be selected for the Alumni 100 list?
"I feel very humbled to be included in such an illustrious group of people that the University has produced over the years."
What made you choose to study at the University of Edinburgh Business School?
"I always wanted to do my MBA at one of the top 10 universities in the country. So, choosing Edinburgh was a no-brainer."
What are your memories of studying at the Business School?
"We used to be at the old building next to Bristo Square. It's not as modern as the current building, but we had a great time in that place. From last-minute cramming in the Miracle Room to group work in syndicate rooms debating finer points of running companies, there are so many fond memories."
What key thing that you learnt at the Business School do you still rely on today?
"It was demanding to manage work and the MBA at the same time. However, the very same thing taught me to be better at prioritisation and manage multiple projects concurrently. I use this skill with everything I'm involved in, even to date."
Proudest work-related achievement to date?
"I joined John West UK straight after my MBA as Head of Marketing. The brand was at crossroads with significant headwinds from competitors, retailers, and stakeholders such as Greenpeace. I repositioned and relaunched the brand within 11 months. As part of that work, we firmly established John West as a leader in sustainability. My team and I launched the most significant grocery initiative in the UK in 2011 through the launch of full traceability of every single tuna can, right down to the GPS location at sea. Our work delivered significant growth in revenue, profitability, market share, and enhanced our corporate reputation."
What's the one thing you think current students need to develop or learn before entering the modern workplace?
"Perseverance. Often it's the difference between those who succeed and those who nearly succeed. Therefore, if you can focus on improving your perseverance and resilience before you enter the workforce, you'll already be ahead of the pack."
I started my career in business development but soon moved into marketing as my preferred choice of career path. Having always been interested in consumer brands, I stayed within the FMCG industry over the next 15 years. During that time, I held many marketing leadership roles at the local, regional and global levels giving me the opportunity to manage some of the most well known brands in the world.
Although I had an excellent understanding of marketing and how the businesses operate cross-functionally, I was keen to expand my horizons and get a deeper understanding of other functions so that I could progress to general management.
The MBA gave me that basis to develop and further my career. It is a multi-faceted course, which made it very interesting. However, the most valuable part of the MBA for me is the mindset it created and the soft skills I learned by juggling many things during the three years.
In 2014, I moved to my first general management role. Soon after at the end of 2015, I set up my first start-up focused on liver health. I am currently the Founder and CEO of Liver Health UK.
Involvement with the Business School
Since graduating, I have been involved with the Business School in various capacities. Initially, my involvement started with making useful connections whenever I could. In more recent years, I have returned to give guest lectures, sharing my experience with current students.
It is a rewarding exercise as I can relate to many of the students given that I was previously in their position. Equally, we can also learn and benefit from fresh ideas that come from students who are not afraid to challenge or take a different path to solving problems to the one we have made.
Don't just build a brand. Start a movement.