WIM, IFC, Government of Australia celebrate Lankan women’s successes

Tuesday, 10 September 2019 01:45 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


WIM Award Winners

  • ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2019 showcases inspiring stories of empowered women who are powering sustainable growth in Sri Lanka


The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2019 were conferred recently, with Sri Lankan women leaders recognised for their contributions to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country. Achievements like these, within corporations, communities, or livelihoods, have led to more inspiring stories of Sri Lankan women entering the global market, and have spurred more women to enter the workforce.

With only one in three women participating in Sri Lanka’s formal labour force, increasing their participation becomes vital for inclusive economic growth. Research shows that increasing women’s participation in the economy — as employees, entrepreneurs, and business leaders — boosts sustainable economic growth and benefits generations to come.

The awards, presented by Women in Management (WIM), IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Government of Australia, recognized women from Sri Lanka with prestigious awards for excellence in either their chosen careers or for inspiring women in their community.

Top awards for 2019 went to Haycarb Plc Chief Executive Officer Sharmila Ragunathan (Career Role Model of the Year), Swadeshi Industrial Works Chairperson Amari Wijewardena (Business Role Model of the Year), Minette Perera from Dilmah Ceylon Tea (Woman on Boards), and 99x Technologies Founder/CEO Mano Sekaram (Male Champion of the Year).

“This year, more than any other, highlights how important it is for us to break stereotypes, overlook cultural barriers and build a more inclusive environment that helps the country rebuild and recover to reach greater heights. Each year, we at WIM are humbled by the inspirational stories from exceptional women across every level, from corporates to the grassroots, and we are thrilled to be able to award and champion the multitude of women who continue to lead the charge,” said Women in Management (WIM) Founder Dr. Sulochana Segera.

Meanwhile Haily Seneviratne, a lecturer at Wayamba University with a reputation for scientific innovations and their commercialisation, walked away with the Youth Leadership of the Year Award. 

Famed Neurologist Dr. Kanjana Sashi Perara from Canada’s McMaster University was recognised with the International Women Leadership Award for her efforts in raising awareness about strokes among women. 

Scientist Hasini Jayathilaka was the recipient of the Trail Blazer award for her laudable research breakthrough in cancer metastasis. 

Rohini Thelis, whose tremendous journey led her from factory machine operator to factory owner, received the Courageous Woman Award.

Held for the ninth consecutive year, the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2019 were powered by Gold Sponsors John Keells Properties and Singer Sri Lanka, and Silver Sponsors Lanka IOC, Coca-Cola, and Bank of Ceylon. SAGT also served as a Sponsor. The Gifting Partners were British Cosmetics, Fems, Velvet and Clogard.

Meanwhile, several Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur recognitions were received, with British Cosmetics Managing Director Dilani Nirosha Jagodaarachchi, famed designer and Buddhi Batiks Creative Director Darshi Keerthisena and Flameback Eco Lodge owner Dulani Guruge securing awards in the Small, Medium and Large Business categories, respectively.

The 2019 Awards also witnessed a number of up-and-coming entrepreneurs being showcased, including the EZ Booking (which is based out of the north) Founder/CEO Jaruza Jayachandran; Modern Tailoring of Kandy owner Farsana Fathima Ubaideen, Liyasevana Cane Producers of Maha Oya Team Leader W.M. Rupalatha, Kimbula Kithul Lanka Founder Chanchala Gunewardena, and Ashoka Bag Design Center of Warankatagoda owner Ashoka Ranjani.

Multiple women who played a strong role in uplifting the lives of many others were recognised with the Inspirational Women of the Year awards. These included financial consulting company She Consults Founder Aruni Rajakarier; Ogilvy Action Founder Sandya Salgado; Sri Lanka Law College Colombo’s first female Principal Padmini Indira Senaratne Samarasinghe; the first Sri Lankan woman to work at the Criminal Investigation Unit in India, Dr. Kanchana Kohombage; Linea NXT’s Center Director of Research, Innovation and Technology Lasanthi Gunawardane; and Oceanica Group of Companies Managing Director/Executive Engineer Dona Chitra Boteju.

In the career categories, women from across multiple sectors were recognised for their contributions towards economic development. 

SANASA Development Bank PLC Deputy Chief Executive Officer Delrene Seneviratne was recognised in the Banking category, while Hemas Manufacturing Finance Director Nilika Goonatilleke was honoured for Finance Management. In the HR industry, LSEG Business Services Colombo Head of Human Resources Bani Chandrasena was awarded. Sampath Bank’s Deputy Chairperson Saumya Amarasekara received an accolade for her work in the Legal sector, and Ratnapura Divisional Secretariat Government Agent Malani Lokupothagama walked away with recognition for her role in the State and Government category.

Unilever Sri Lanka Marketing Director – Beauty and Personal Care Nilushi Jayatileke, Leo Burnett Sri Lanka Executive Director for Publicis Executive Director Selonica Nalawansa and Brandix Apparel Ltd. Deputy General Manager for Corporate Communications Imanthi Perera were awarded for contributions in the Marketing, Advertising and Corporate Communications categories, respectively. 

Veteran journalist Randima Attygalle was awarded in the Print Media category and TV Derana Director Programming Sharmila Dharmarasa won in the Electronic Media category.

In recognition for her invaluable contributions to Sri Lanka’s National Netball Team, top scorer Tharjini Sivalingam received an award, as did SAGT Commercial and Marketing Head Dhashma Karunaratne, for her work in Supply Chain and Logistics. Mitra Innovation Digital CEO Chinthi Weerasinghe won in the Information Technology category.

Winning honours in the Hospitality space was soon-to-be-opened Hilton Yala’s General Manager Gitanjali Chakrawarthy. Upuli Panibharatha of the Channa-Upuli Performing Arts Foundation was recognised with an award in the area of Arts and Creative Science.

The CID’s Officer in Charge of the Commercial Crime Investigation Unit III Nalani Kumari Dissanayake was recognised for an impressive career track-record in the Defence Force and Civil Society sector. University of Colombo Vice-Chancellor Professor Chandrika N. Wijeratne was recognised in the Education sector, while Dialog Axiata General Manager for Digital User Experience, Digital Adoption and Knowledge Management Waruni Algama won for Digital Technology.

Career Achievement Awards went to Fonterra Brands Lanka Associate Director for Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Thamari Senanayake and High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore Shashikala Premawardhane. Also, Service Appreciation Awards were awarded to CMC Employee from Dematagoda, Edward Juliana, and S. A. Dhammika Nilakshi from garment manufacturer Sirio Ltd.

Additionally, National Development Bank Sri Lanka was recognised as the Best Private Sector Organisation Promoting Women in the Workplace, and David Peiris Motor Company was highlighted as the Best CSR Program in the Private Sector for Women’s Empowerment, for its technical training programs aimed at creating trained, certified women mechanics. The Welikada sub-committee at the Welikada Prison was recognised as the Best Women’s Empowerment Project run by an NGO, INGO or International Organisation, for their efforts to uplift the lives of women prisoners.

In the Maldives segment, top honours were taken by Ministry of Economic Affairs Registrar of Companies Maryam Visam (Career Role Model of the Year – Maldives), Voyages Maldives CEO Aminath Salah (CEO of the Year – Maldives), and Mariyam Waheeda (Inspirational Woman of the Year – Maldives).

This year’s judging panel included Panel Chairperson Hemas Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Hemas Logistics and Maritime Cluster Managing Director Kasturi Chelleraja Wilson, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives Amena Arif, Clootrack Sri Lanka and Maldives President/CEO Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Singer Sri Lanka Director of Marketing Kumar Samarasinghe; veteran journalist and Daily FT Editor Nisthar Cassim; HNB Director Rose Cooray and Hayleys Agriculture Managing Director Jayanthi Dharmasena.

Dedicated to the success of women, Women In Management (WIM) unites Sri Lanka’s women professionals and entrepreneurs through a unique networking platform, leveraging their skills into global success. 

IFC—a sister organisation of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. It works with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using its capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, it delivered more than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.