Home / Special Report/ 2017 Women in IT Awards recognises excellence

2017 Women in IT Awards recognises excellence


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 9 November 2017 00:58


The FITIS – Women in IT Association was formed by the Federation of IT Industries in Sri Lanka with the objective of developing and supporting women by enhancing their ICT skills. Through WIT, it is aimed at facilitating personal growth and careers of women which will lead to a better society for all.

Under the patronage of FITIS, the Women in IT Association (WIT) has outlined several events to attract women and youth to the IT industry as we believe that IT is a key enabler for women to balance life, work and family whilst contributing towards the growth of the economy. 

With the said objective in mind the first-ever ‘Women in IT Awards’ (WITA) is planned for recognising the skills of women who have silently contributed to the industry over the years.

The leading women in diverse fields of IT were announced at an awards ceremony followed by a gala dinner at INFOTEL on 4 November. The audience consisted of IT and non-IT professionals of both genders as they rally together for INFOTEL exhibitions happening in the ICT week in November.

There were six categories and the winners were chosen based on a noteworthy story to share which will inspire others. 

The categories were as follows:

Business and IT Leader of the Year

A female leader of a technology company, or a business leader within a large technology company, who has demonstrated outstanding business leadership in the last 18 months. Judges will examine the progress/growth of the company, innovation it has brought to the market, and specific achievements and initiatives of the candidates.

Security Champion of the Year  

A female IT security professional who has demonstrated outstanding work in progressing the industry and/or protecting the company from cyber threats. Judges will assess the candidates’ innovative approaches to security and the impact of their policies, procedures and projects on the business and industry.

Entrepreneur of the Year  

A female leader of a technology, digital or e-commerce start-up that has demonstrated excellent growth in the last 18 months, with a coherent and sustainable strategy in achieving it. Judges will look at demonstrations of growth (turnover, profit, employees, etc.), standout achievements and customer testimonials.

CIO of the Year 

A female CIO who has demonstrated innovation, IT excellence and leadership in the last 18 months. Judges will look at projects and achievements spanning the current organisation or others if applicable, along with examples of best practice, leadership, ROI generated and alignment to business goals.

Educator/Trainer of the Year 

A female educator/trainer who has contributed to the vocational/ government/ private education system through sharing teaching practices and display of leadership in the last 18 months. The judges will look at successful student learning outcomes including data relating to results, completion and participation in a range of courses and certificates. Also, will look for referee reports and testimonials, maintaining ethical standards, contribution to the maintenance of initiatives that support teaching and learning, acting as mentor/guide for others – leadership, personal/professional industry engagement, and personal/professional community engagement.

Emerging Female Leader in IT

A female who has completed undergraduate study, professional or vocational qualification within the last 18 months and serving an outstanding contribution to the community, industry and keeping the good faith of qualification supporting the institution for enhancement. She is supporting the social and economic well-being of the community and industry while demonstrating leadership and initiatives worthy of recognition. The nomination should be provided with a certificate of reference by an authorised person from the university/training institute/vocational training institution.

The panel of judges consisted of Kasturi Chellarajah Wilson, Managing Director, Hemas Pharmaceuticals Ltd./Hemas Logistics and Maritime Cluster; Dr. Kithsiri Manchanayake, Chairman, FITIS; Prof. Prasadini Gamage, Professor HRM, University of Kelaniya; Isura Silva, General Manager at Sarvodaya-Fusion; and Vajeendra Kandegamage, Chairman, National Best Quality Awards (NBQSA).

The winners Business Leader of the Year: Vidumini Ranasinghe, Project Director, MillenniumIT

A business leader within a large technology company, who has demonstrated outstanding business leadership. Judges examined the progress/growth of the company, innovation it has brought to the market, and specific achievements and initiatives of the candidate. Delivery of some of the most successful multi product integrated solutions to capital market clients who are some of the Tier 1 stock exchanges in the world. Running multiple software solutions in parallel leading a team of over 50 experts across multiple disciplines. Part of the leadership team in the company since 2015. One of the first and only ongoing Project Directors at MIT. Mentoring and training multiple teams and with emphasis on empowering female team members and nurturing leadership and career development skills. Led a team that delivered a multiproduct solution implementation which was one of the shortest/fastest implementations for MillenniumIT.

CIO of the Year: Upamalika Ratnayake, Chief Digital Officer, Ceylinco Insurance 

A CIO who has demonstrated innovation, IT excellence and leadership in the company. Judges examined projects and achievements spanning the current organisation or others if applicable, along with examples of best practice, leadership, ROI generated and alignment to business goals.

She won the Female ICT Leader of the year in 2002. In 2009 became the first-ever CIO of Ceylinco Life and brought all ICT related departments under one umbrella. In 2017 became the first-ever CDO in the insurance industry in Sri Lanka in Ceylinco Life. She has been the CIO/CDO for the last eight years and by leading the ICT team of Ceylinco Life, the market leader for insurance industry in Sri Lanka for last 14 consecutive years. Among strategies, adopted to make a change within the organisation include centralisation of the business process; automating the manual underwriting process; empowered the sales force; implementation of document management solution; more customised and cost effective total in-house developments. She is a proud mother of two sons, an engineer and a budding doctor.

Entrepreneur of the Year: Lakmini Wijesundera, CEO, IronOne Technologies

A female leader of a technology, digital or e-commerce start-up that has demonstrated excellent growth in the last 18 months, with a coherent and sustainable strategy in achieving it. Judges examined demonstrations of growth (turnover, profit, employees, etc.), standout achievements and customer testimonials. Lakmini, Co-Founder and CEO of Iron One Technologies, is the driving force behind IronOne’s global success spanning over 20 countries with direct offices in Singapore, Malaysia, India, South Africa and USA. IronOne focuses on providing innovative IT solutions to large corporates and is well known for its BoardPac secure iPad enabled board automation solution used by over 1000 large corporations both locally and internationally.  Agreements have been renewed and new agreements are being signed up as we speak in countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh, South Africa, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, etc. 

BoardPAC enables paperless meetings. It saves trees and is a carbon-friendly product. Typically a 10-member board with board and committee meetings uses 60,000 papers which are discarded thereafter. However with BoardPAC and iPad enabled meetings the paper wastage is eliminated and trees are saved. Larger corporates have more than 10 members and they typically have 25-50 members and sometimes even 500 users as the numbers incrementally and significantly improve on the impact of paperless and green IT with BoardPAC. Lakmini holds many accolades, the most recent being Woman of Achievement in Industry and Entrepreneurship by the Zonta Club 1 of Colombo and she represented Sri Lanka in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women Asia Pacific in 2017 being the first-ever representative from Sri Lanka. 

Emerging IT Professional of the Year: Dr. Buddhima Subasinghe, Visiting Lecturer SLIIT, TV Presenter

A female who has completed undergraduate study in the last 18 months providing an outstanding contribution to the community, industry. She is supporting the social and economic well-being of the community and industry while demonstrating leadership and initiatives worthy of recognition. 

The youngest PHD holder in Sri Lanka in the area of Cyber Crime Investigation and Conflict Resolution in Social Media using web intelligence. Graduated in May 2017 at the age of 25. The only Sri Lankan researcher who presented her PHD research at the 1st IEEE Women in Engineering Conference and research grant awarded. Won many awards for communication, leadership from Toastmasters International and represented Sri Lanka at numerous local and international forums. 

Educator of the Year: Shiroma Weerathunge, ICT Teacher, President’s College, Embilipitiya

An educator who has contributed to the vocational/government/ private education system through sharing teaching practices and display of leadership. The judges examined successful student learning outcomes including data relating to results, completion and participation in a range of courses and certificates.  Also, referee reports and testimonials, contribution to the maintenance of initiatives that support teaching and learning, acting as mentor/guide for others – leadership, personal/professional industry engagement, and personal/professional community engagement. 

Works as a Resource Person with Provincial Education Department and Embilipitiya Zonal Education Office. Awarded many titles for her integration of ICT into mainstream education – Microsoft Innovative Educator Fellow in 2017, 2018 and Microsoft Trainer. Works as a mentor teacher for Smart Schools program – Phase II by Ministry of Education, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Headstart. Conducted collaborative online projects with students and teachers from other countries through Skype and other technologies and connecting with countries such as Austria, Japan, South Africa, the Bahamas, etc.  Increased confidence of teachers and students in using ICT tools for learning and day-to-day life through trainings and certifications. Students learn and practice online ethics and more students joined to study ICT for GCE O/L and A/L as a result and sharing knowledge on making robots with Ananda College, Colombo. 

She is a MIEE Asia eBook contributor on ‘How Technology is used in our Classrooms’ – published in 2016. She works as a volunteer for Micro:bit Sri Lanka User group and conducted awareness sessions for Grade 9-12 students on Micro:bit and Robotics and a working as a member of curriculum planning unit of IOT by Ministry of Education and National Institute of Education. She is also blog writer; some articles are on the blog site http://emastersl.blogspot.com and have been selected by Redbird Advanced Learning http://redbirdlearning.com/- Digital Education developed by Stanford University to link their professional development seminar content for educators.

Security Professional of the Year: Samadhi Silva, Information Security Analyst, SL CERT

An IT security professional who has demonstrated outstanding work in progressing the industry and/or protecting the company from cyber threats.  Judges assessed the candidates’ innovative approaches to security and the impact of their policies, procedures and projects on the business and industry. 

She is one of the active members of the digital forensic team at Sri Lanka CERT|CC. During these three years of the career, she has successfully completed hundreds of digital forensic investigations for the law enforcement agencies. She also conducted numerous information security related awareness sessions, training programs and technical workshops for various types of audience including Police Officers, CID Officers, officers of National Child Protection Authority, officers of Sri Lanka Army, Navy and Air Force, IT executives of both government and private sectors, school children as well as for the General Public.  In addition she conducted online webinars/technical presentations representing Sri Lanka CERT|CC, focusing on international audiences especially in the Asia Pacific region. 

Moreover, she is acting as a local point of contact for an international initiative called CAMP (Cybersecurity Alliance for Mutual Progress) hosted by the Government of Korea which serves as a network platform for 49 Government Establishments from 37 countries for the conduct and coordination of cybersecurity capacity building and information sharing activities as well as technological cooperation. The most special achievement of her is the balancing all of these things with her personal life because she is not only an Information security professional, but also a caring daughter, a sister as well as a wife. 

Lifetime Achievement Award: Nayeni Fernando

Sunethra Nayeni Fernando was born at Richmond Hill, Galle in 1945 and had her primary education at Richmond and Southlands Colleges in Galle and her secondary education at Methodist College, Colombo. She entered the University of Ceylon Colombo from Princess of Wales College Moratuwa and obtained a B.Sc in Physical Science in 1969.  She obtained a Master’s degree, majoring in Social and Economic Statistics from the George Washington University, USA in 1983. 

She commenced her career in IT in 1971 as a programmer at the Department of Census and Statistics, and was involved in developing systems and programming for many of the Censuses and Surveys carried out by the Department. She was amongst the pioneer batches of programmers who wrote programs for IBM mainframe computers using punched cards and the programming language, Report Program Generator (RPG). 

In 1979 she was employed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka as an Analyst Programmer. She was the first woman analyst programmer at the Central Bank. In 1985 the Central Bank decided to appoint her as the project manager to automate cheque clearing, which was the prime IT project of the bank and the brainchild of the then Governor, Dr. Warnasena Rasaputra.  This project revolutionised the cheque clearing process and had a tremendous impact on the whole banking industry. Subsequent to its successful implementation in 1988, Nayeni was appointed the Manager of the new Sri Lanka Automated Clearing House. In 1993, Nayeni took the initiative and took the leadership role in implementing the Sri Lanka Interbank Payment System, SLIPS, which today is a household word in the Bank’s payment systems arena.  

In 1994, Nayeni was appointed as the Director of the Information Technology Department of the Central Bank. The Central Bank bombing on the 31st of January 1996 completely destroyed the IT systems of the bank. Nayeni was entrusted with the task of rebuilding the Bank’s IT systems, which included the system for processing the Employees Provident Fund of the country. The IT Department completed this task in six months. She was also the coordinator for the financial sector in the Y2K task force under the Chairmanship of Professor V. K. Samaranayake.  

She retired from the Central Bank in 2000 and worked as the IT Consultant of the Bank of Ceylon. She worked in the private sector until 2008 and then proceeded to Dhaka, Bangladesh to work as the onsite project manager for implementing an automated cheque clearing system and an online funds transfer network for the Bangladesh Bank, linking all Banks and branches in the country. The projects were successfully completed in October 2010 and February 2011 respectively. 

Nayeni is a founder member of the computer professionals’ association, the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL), and served on its council for many years and as its Vice President from 1993 to 1995. She was conferred the award of honorary Fellow of the association in 2003 for her services to the industry and the association. She was also awarded a ‘Woman of Achievement’ award by the Zonta Club in 1993.

Pix by Samantha Perera


Share This Article


COMMENTS

Today's Columnists

Is Iran a threat to global peace?

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The aim of this article is to explore Iran’s nuclear program and its consequences throughout the world. Iran one of the nuclear power countries in the Middle East, which has brought very grave concern to the US.


Maldives forcefully voices plight of small island states at climate change conference

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The plight of small island states was forcefully voiced by Maldivian Minister for Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim at the 23rd Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (COP23) being held in Bonn, Germany.


The Blue Green Budget of the Unity Government

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Budget proposals of the Unity Government under the theme ‘Blue Green Budget’ for the fiscal year 2018 are expected to support the achievement of medium-term targets such as Per Capita Income of $ 5,000


Starship budgets and the “Bicycle Brigade”

Friday, 17 November 2017

One has only to read the wide and varied responses to Budget 2018 (B18) to realise how fissured our society is.


Columnists More