Dr. Ray Wijewardene
BoardPAC and IronOne Technologies Founder and Executive Director Lakmini Wijesundera
The annual Dr Ray Wijewardene Memorial Oration for the year 2023 will be held at the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka (IESL) Auditorium, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7 on Friday, 8 September 2023 at 5.15 p.m..
BoardPAC Inc and IronOne Technologies Founder & Executive Director Lakmini Wijesundera will deliver this year’s Oration on the topic ‘Globalising Sri Lankan Technology: The BoardPAC Journey’. It will also mark the first female to deliver this annual Oration since its inception.
The Dr. Ray Wijewardene Memorial Oration was established in 2011 by The Ray Wijewardene Charitable Trust (RWCT) in collaboration with The Institute of Engineers Sri Lanka (IESL). Every year the Engineering community of Sri Lanka comes together in remembrance of his invaluable contribution to the world and acknowledges the decades of innovations around the world. Each year those who contributed to the field of innovation would take the opportunity to showcase their journey and share their knowledge with peers as well as the public. The Charitable Trust (RWCT) with the leadership of his three daughters, Anoma, Roshi and Mandy has organised the annual orations and activities of the Trust over the years keeping Dr Ray Wijewardene’s memory alive.
In conversation with Ms. Lakmini Wijesundera, she said, “a visionary scientist, Dr. Ray Wijewardene touched many lives worldwide throughout his long career as an engineer, inventor, and agriculturalist. Having graduated from two of the greatest universities in the world –the University of Cambridge and the Harvard University, he conducted experiments and innovations in many fields including agriculture, aeronautics, and renewable energy that continue to shape the world today”. Lakmini added, “As Dr Ray is a dear uncle to me, it brings deep personal relevance and pride to deliver this most special Memorial Oration”.
In aviation, he designed the world's first practical human-powered aircraft, the "Man-powered Aircraft" or MPA, and demonstrated the feasibility of human-powered flight and inspired subsequent innovations in aviation technology.
His contributions to agricultural engineering were equally groundbreaking; he developed the world's first two-wheel tractor, the "Jet Reapers," revolutionising small-scale farming and significantly increasing agricultural productivity in developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Dr. Wijewardene's dedication to sustainable agriculture and conservation led to advancements in agro forestry and soil conservation techniques, addressing critical global challenges related to food security and environmental sustainability.
Throughout his career, he vehemently believed in giving back to the community and training young minds to pass on the legacy of innovation. One such initiative he contributed to, the ‘Science for Youth’ program was launched by Dr. Cyril Ponnamperuma in the 1980s, which later became the current professional body “Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL)”. He would often collaborate with renowned innovators of his time such as, his long-standing friend the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke to discuss his vision for the world and Sri Lanka.
Dr Ray Wijewardene's legacy reminds us that true innovation often thrives outside traditional institutions, and that the spirit of discovery and invention should be nurtured with a focus on solving real-world challenges. His journey encourages today's engineers and innovators to boldly pursue their ideas, collaborate widely, and embrace failure as a stepping stone to success.
This year’s presenter, Lakmini Wijesundera, was a student of mathematics at CMS Ladies’ College Colombo, graduating in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at University College London and Imperial College London, University of London, United Kingdom, which earned her a foundation and introduction to the possibilities of groundbreaking innovation in technology. Embarking on her entrepreneurial journey in the tech industry, she draws parallels with her passion and what must have compelled Dr Ray Wijewardene.
This spirit of innovation gave rise to BoardPAC, an innovative product that ranked as one of the best global Board Governance technology platforms by Capterra of Gartner Inc the leading global technology advisory firm. BoardPAC bridges a longstanding gap that persisted in boardrooms for decades. Lakmini envisioned an all-encompassing platform capable of digitising and automating the entire board meeting and board governance process and further elevating the experience of Boards with relevant insights to important subjects such as Sustainability (ESG and Carbon Neutrality) with the use of cutting edge technologies of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Lakmini’s vision has been to create Sri Lankan built innovative technologies to not only compete with established global counterparts but to solidify the position as one of the top three enterprise board management solutions worldwide. The clientele spans the globe, encompassing Forbes, Fortune, ranked and publicly listed top ranking companies and governmental bodies in over forty countries around the globe including in regions such as the USA, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore, the Middle East and India. This remarkable growth, against all odds, was aided by a daring and confident vision—a belief that a Sri Lankan built technology company could ascend to the same heights as its global counterparts, Dr. Ray’s achievements being a testament to this belief. Fueling this ascent was the unwavering determination witnessed in the indomitable Dr. Ray Wijewardene, a testament to the enduring legacy of inspiration he left behind.
This year’s oration will elaborate Lakmini’s globalisation journey of BoardPAC, from its challenging beginning to its world ranked achievements on par with the best in the world. It is exemplary as a motivation and inspiration to many others to embrace the possibility for Sri Lankan businesses to boldly present their products to the world and take the challenge to be among the top ranked offerings, globally.