As a child, Vaiyasan Arulrajah had lofty ambitions – not only was he to be the world’s greatest palaeontologist, he would also serve as the CEO of Nintendo.
“Unfortunately my dreams were crushed when my teacher informed me that they had already found all the dinosaurs and Nintendo’s company strategy, at the time, didn’t align well with my growth visions as an eight-year-old,” said Arulrajah.
After having finished a degree in accounting finance and economics at Victoria University, Arulrajah moved on from his lofty game-developer-cum-dinosaur-hunter ambitions and worked as a door-to-door market researcher, before eventually joining the Countdown graduate programme. He now works as a Space Manager.
Arulrajah said that his time as a door knocker helped develop character. “I was in many situations where I had to develop my methodology and negotiation skills to persuade customers and clients to give me a moment of their time. I certainly learnt to be resilient.”
Resilience is the name of the game for Arulrajah. He grew up in Lower Hutt, following a short stint in Zambia after his parents left Sri Lanka in 1991. His parents, sister and girlfriend are still based in the capital.
“My parents are my biggest inspiration. They moved to New Zealand, to give my sister and I, more opportunity and a better life. We have been able to live in a safe country that has provided us with every opportunity to succeed,” he said. “Whenever I find myself concerned or worried about my situation or making an important decision, I just think about my parents’ brave decision to move to the other side of the world and start again from the bottom. Life could have been very different.”
Further to his childhood travels, Arulrajah has travelled throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands. However, despite thoroughly enjoying Vietnam, Italy, Canada and Samoa, his favourite destination is closer to home. “My favourite place in the world is the Coast Road near the Wainuiomata Coast in the Wellington region,” he said. “Staring out at the sea, you honestly feel like you’re at the edge of the earth.”
In the future, Arulrajah would like to build on his merchandise and commercial acumen and move out of his current role into a buying/sales or operations role. For now, though, he is enjoying where he is and the practical, tangible outcomes that result. “By working closely with our store operations teams we can produce space plans that incorporate our category managers plans, operations needs as well as focusing on customers decision making which improves our overall operational efficiencies,” he said. “By critically evaluating our decisions and now it impacts our stores, we can ultimately save time at a store level. The store teams can then focus their energy on keeping our customers happy.”
In his spare time he likes to explore his creative side – writing, making music and spending “countless hours watching sport, anything from cricket to the World Series of Darts.”