Women Top 50 Magazine

VOLUME 04 I ISSUE 01




VOLUME 04 I ISSUE 01

JANUARY 2021 Retail Price 500.00 @ All rights reserved ROLE MODELS DRIVING THE CHANGE FOR WHO CAN INSPIRE OTHERS WOMEN Jayanthi Dharmasena Minha Faiz EMPOWERED RECOGNIZING THE EXEMPLARY ACHIEVEMENTS OF WOMEN Sarah Twigg YOUTH CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHERS Tamara Perera

VOLUME 04 I ISSUE 01


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T 05 Women Top 50 I n 2020, WIM Top50 Professional and Career Women Awards celebrated 10 years of recognizing women’s achievement in Sri Lanka. Looking back, I realize that, it was not about just an event, it was about the brands that I have created by bestowing recognition to over 500 women serving in different fields, accompanied by a desire to be a light in this dark world that has made WIM Top50 Awards a success. In addition, when Top50 Awards celebrated 10 years in 2020, I introduced the New Generation Awards. I do not believe in being comfortable with where I am today. I continue to look for a purpose in life. The New Generation Awards is aimed at celebrating and recognizing young talent, achievements and contribution to this country. This new awards is different, in that, I made it gender neutral. On 8th December 2020 when 25 young people received recognition for their achievements I realized that there is always a positive outcome when you have the right intention. Changing the game The journey of WIM and WIM Top50 Awards was fraught from failures, grew out of an experience that led me sometimes through the deepest and darkest recesses, but through it all its intention was pure; it was a creation that sprang forth from love and passion. When WIM celebrated 10 years in 2019, I launched Plain-T with Sulo, a Talk Show to change and inspire men and women. I am not a TV presenter, neither do I believe that I possess the looks or training to be a TV presenter. Yet, as a believer in the “Power of Intention”, I launched the talk show under my name. For the past 2 years I have interviewed 40 personalities, local and international, in Sinhala and in English. My intention was to make a change in the way talk shows generally work, where the focus is quite often someone popular, an actor, a business legend or a politician; I wanted to speak with any woman or man who had the ability to inspire others and show that perfect imperfections are I sign off with gratitude to Nilam Samsudeen, who has been the pillar of WIM’s success, to IFC and DFAT for partnering for the past 6 years, to all business partners, friends, WIM members and my family. Dr. Sulochana Segera Founder/Chairperson Women in Management Plain Women Top 50 20 what people are made of, still everyone has a story to tell. With these interviews I am still on a learning curve. Many of the individuals that I have interviewed had a story, but most importantly for 90% of them, my talk show was their first public interview. Many people wait for the right time and for a stable environment to initiate something, but that was not the case with me. In fact, I will say that it was the opposite. In my early 30’s I left a promising career to play the role of mother and father to my two children with no financial support. With no business background, I went ahead and started my own consulting company, struggled with home, business and children. As a young woman it was one of the most exacting periods of my life. I believe that I have managed to come this far because I never waited for the right time and neither did I have any reservations about my intentions. with Sulo Changing the game PAGE 05 Women Top 50 34 Ramya Plain T with Sulo PAGE 20 Weerakoon Award Professional Career Woman of the Year (2012) and Inspirational Woman of the Year (2014) I Independent Consultant Global Business Development n 2012 — prior to winning the ‘Top 50’ Professional Career Woman of the Year and the Abhimani Award as the first Sri Lankan woman involved in aircraft marketing — Ramya Weerakoon was oblivious to her unique position in the market when WIM approached her. Citation range of private jets, as well as the complete range of multirole helicopters manufactured by Bell Helicopter Textron. “The joy of winning the awards completely changed my perspective of my life and my career. It enhanced my self-esteem and gave me tremendous confidence to pursue greater challenges, which helped me earn a promotion as Vice President – Business Development within a very short time,” said Weerakoon. At that time, Weerakoon was the only woman in South Asia to be engaged in business development, marketing, sales, and coordination of specialized training for flight and engineering crew, for the complete range of fixed and rotary wing aircraft marketed by her company. She was responsible for commercial and military sales and after-market support for Textron Aviation-manufactured Cessna trainer aircraft, the twin Turboprop & the Throughout her career in aviation sales, Weerakoon prioritized her role as a mentor to women. She became a vocal champion of safer and more respectful workplaces, spearheading policy and procedural changes that introduced anti-harassment policies and procedures. Her efforts garnered another win at the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards in 2014 as ‘Inspirational Woman of the Year.’ “I received many opportunities and consultancy offers together with exposure in the media, which created a plethora of additional advantages and recognition in the corporate sector,” recalls Weerakoon. Following a career spanning over 30 years in aerospace, power, and energy with Infotechs (Pvt) Limited, culminating in her taking on the mantle of CEO, Weerakoon retired this year. However, she will continue her advocacy to create parity in the workplace as an independent consultant. Ramya Weerakoon PAGE 34 35 Women Top 50 Women Top 50 23 Women Top 50 06 Women Top 50 Persevering through Crisis T his year’s ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards comes at an unprecedented time. We have all just lived through a year like no other with the ongoing global crisis, triggered by COVID-19, exacting a harsh toll on people and businesses. It remains a challenging time for many women and men. restrictions, women, who typically earn less and hold less secure jobs than men, are at a risk of losing work and livelihoods. In Sri Lanka, some of the industries hit the hardest by the pandemic, such as the garment sector, are primary employers of women. So as we honor the work of top women in Sri Lanka through the ‘Top 50’ Awards by Women in Management (WIM), in partnership with IFC, it’s also fitting to acknowledge that in many ways, women have borne the brunt of the impact from both an economic and social perspective, eating away decades of hard-won battles in terms of gender equality. Women business owners and employees have also often taken on greater household responsibilities, including for child and elder care, in the face of school closures and restrictions on mobility. These factors have combined to result in more women losing their jobs due to the pandemic than men – global estimates suggest women’s job loss rates are about 1.8 times higher than men’s. There has also been a sharp rise in gender-based violence as a result of the worldwide lockdown and the increased financial pressures faced by individuals and families. With plummeting economic activities due to COVID-19 Amena Arif First a health crisis and then an economic crisis, COVID-19 has taken a severe toll on many businesses, with enterprises large and small either cutting jobs or reducing work hours of their employees. Disruptions caused by lockdowns have also impacted the ability of businesses to keep operating. Country Manager International Finance Corporation Sri Lanka & Maldives As we all look forward to a resilient recovery, there is an opportunity for the private sector to rebuild their companies with a focus on gender equality. The women leaders and organizations that are recognized through the ‘Top 50’ Awards are among those at the forefront of this recovery effort. We should look to these award winners as role models and trailblazers for the way ahead. In addition to co-hosting the awards for the last six years, IFC and WIM have together created stronger impact in Sri Lanka creating opportunities for women through the mentorship programs, training events and more recently, webinar series aimed at skilled building for stronger careers for women, enabling their progression from senior management to boards. More than 400 women have participated in these programs adding to the sustainability of WIM and broadening its value add. At IFC, we are helping to address rising inequalities by factoring gender considerations into our COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts and supporting private sector companies and investors to do the same. In Sri Lanka, one of the first countries to draw on support from IFC’s US$8 billion global COVID-19 fast track financing facility, we supported one of our longstanding partners to help small businesses survive and in doing so, helped to preserve jobs. Over one-third of this support went to businesses owned by women. Globally, during the last fiscal year, over one-third of IFC’s advisory portfolio of $1.5 billion was dedicated towards efforts aimed at closing gender gaps. We work with companies to enhance the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women. We also help companies increase women’s access to financial services, technology, information, and markets. Persevering through Crisis PAGE Through the Women in Work partnership with the government of Australia, we are working to close gender gaps in Sri Lanka’s private sector while improving business performance. The program is aimed at enhancing the quality of women’s employment in the private sector, support increased access to financial and nonfinancial services for women and women-owned businesses, and help strengthen linkages with women in private sector supply chains. And by recognizing the important role women leaders play in the process of closing gender gaps – as role models, trailblazers and ultimately as individuals who can start to turn the levers of power – the WIM Top 50 Awards are an important part of this agenda. 06 Introducing diversity, inclusion and wellbeing to all managers and employees at the London Stock Exchange Group in Sri Lanka is the responsibility of Bani Chandrasena as Head of Inclusive Diversity. As a strong proponent of good practices in the work place, she believes in the importance of doing the right thing and being a role model for others to follow. Her passion for gender diversity had enabled her to take a lead role in establishing Diversity Collective Lanka, the women-in-tech association that aspires for greater visibility for women in the IT industry. She spoke with Women Top 50 about her work and the impetus for an inclusive culture at LSEG, which she believes should be the widespread practice that would eventually impact the financial bottom line. I would encourage leaders, at every opportunity I get, to focus on getting the house in order. BANI Chandrasena How can businesses embody diversity and inclusion and why should they? Employees are any companies’ greatest asset. If you can get the best from your employees, this should make business sense and will impact the financial bottom line. Creating inclusive cultures encourages employees to bring their best to work and do their best. Employees bringing their A game to work impacts businesses in more ways than financial; it impacts employee engagement which will have a positive impact on employee retention. This culture will also encourage more diversity, which is one of the most important business indicators globally today, and research proves diversity does impact top line and bottom-line. If diversity matters so much to ensure performance and success, then how should organizations identify the strongest candidates? I would encourage PAGE 23 Top50 Awards Press Launch A n initiative by Women in Management, the International Finance Corporation (IFC)—a member of the World Bank Group—and the government of Australia Top50 Awards Press Launch PAGE “When a trailblazer shares the challenges she faced in her life journey, it inspires scores of people to step out of their comfort zones and charter a course that is beyond the stereotype. As a result of this, lives are changed, societies are enlightened and communities are transformed,” said Dhashma Karunaratne, the 2019 winner of ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Award for Supply Chain and Logistics. She is (R) Evolutionary ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards Help Change Women’s Status-Quo in Sri Lanka inning the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Award gave me a greater voice at the table to champion the cause of women at work and women on boards in corporate Sri Lanka. It unlocked more opportunities for me to advance this agenda,” said Aruni Rajakarier, winner of the 2019 ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Award for ‘Inspirational Woman of the Year.’ In addition to being on several boards across Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerates, Rajakarier is the Founder and Director of SheConsults (Pvt) ltd, an environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) consultancy firm. A chartered accountant by profession, Rajakarier heads a variety of engagements in corporate reporting and strategy, focusing on integrating ESG criteria into formal organization performance review processes. Aruni Rajakarier. Rajakarier Founder/Director – Sheconsults Award: Inspirational Woman of the Year (2019) In 2019, as the chairperson of Women’s Empowerment and Leadership Development Committee — the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka — she launched the ‘Board Ready Female Members Directory.’ The directory promotes more female representation across boards in corporate Sri Lanka, providing a tangible talent pipeline for succession planning. “There is so much talent leakage, particularly from the time women have children or have ageing or ailing parents as the unpaid work is largely borne by women. Consequently, women who are being supermoms and superwomen are reluctant to step up to additional positions as they are over stretched. This was evident when only around 10 percent of all the women who were eligible to be in the directory stepped up, and we talked to many women about why they were not stepping up. This unpleasant truth spoke volumes of the reality working women face in our society,” she said. This learning inspired her to introduce the ‘Gender Reporting Framework.’ The framework offers guidelines on collecting and reporting on gender disaggregated data to increase awareness on women’s status in corporate leadership in Sri Lanka. Rajakarier’s company, SheConsults, offers solutions to professional women who require greater flexibility to balance work and home. It allows them to take on work according to their capacity without taking a total career break. With her own experience as a working parent with four children, Rajakarier is happy to support other women in similar situations and demands quality work delivered on time. “There is a severe hemorrhaging of women from the paid workforce. This phenomenon is clear when it comes to succession planning, with very few qualified for senior leadership and board positions. Women tend to drop out mid-career, as societal and cultural power dynamics trip women up on their way up the corporate ladder. Therefore, we wanted to create a list of women who are ready to take on top leadership,” said A resolute champion of working women, Rajakarier continues to engage corporate management in the conversation to create a more conducive environment that supports women. She has her sights set on changing society’s perception of women, starting with challenging the portrayal of women in media. Aruni Rajakarier PAGE Businesses should always make selections based on assessments which directly relate to the job. It is good to also, where possible, to review potential for future roles and not just the role at hand. I would not advocate hiring merely for diversity. It is important though, to be aware that at interviews and shortlisting, we all do tend to make biased decisions Women Top 50 26 Women Top 50 08 W 35 Women Top 50 36 Karunaratne, the Assistant Vice President for Maritime, Logistics & Freight at Aitken Spence Maritime, is one of the many inspiring women who have been recognized and celebrated by the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards over the years. Over the past two decades, women’s participation in the nation’s labor force has stagnated between 30 and 35 percent. This is a significant low considering the continued progress of Sri Lankan women in education and other human development indicators. According to research, a combination of factors—socio-cultural norms, high caregiving responsibilities, restrictive legislature, and misalignment in skills and qualification with the job market— have kept women in Sri Lanka on the sidelines. R the 2014 awards. As WIM marks the 10th anniversary of honoring Sri Lankan women, this is IFC’s sixth consecutive year of co-hosting, and the third in collaboration with Women in Work—a partnership between IFC and the government of Australia. The awards were launched by Women in Management (WIM) in 2011, when businesswomen were not formally recognized in Sri Lanka. What started as a conference centered on Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka with 25 women and five awards, has now evolved into an annual event that recognizes the remarkable achievements of Sri Lankan women in their careers, businesses, and everyday lives. With over 420 award winners across the economic spectrum and in a wide range of professions — banking and finance, hospitality, media, legal, logistics and supply chains — the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards has been a steppingstone for many women to becoming recognized leaders in their respective fields, organizations, and communities. Sulochana Segera, Founder/ Chairperson of WIM, notes that over 50 percent of award winners have experienced career advancements, while over 90 percent of micro, small, and medium business owners 08 recognized by the awards have reported increased brand recognition and market growth. To further amplify this impact, the International Finance Corporation (IFC)—a member of the World Bank Group—joined hands with WIM for In response, while recognizing the value of women’s leadership in Sri Lanka, the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards is a testimony to the progress that can be achieved when women and men are equal participants in the economy. As Sarah Twigg, IFC’s Program Manager for Women in Work said, “recognizing the exemplary achievements of women who have excelled in their careers or businesses, overcoming stereotypical barriers, also brings to the fore important role models who can inspire others.” Tanya Wettimuny, the 2016 winner of the Supply Chain Management Award, is a fine example of this. Wettimuny, who went on to start her own freight and logistics company, IAS Holdings, and actively promotes the recruitment and retention of women in a traditionally maledominated industry. She appointed the first and only female airport cargo village manager at the Bandaranaike International Airport, Sri Lanka’s main international airport. “Being recognized for my contributions in freight and logistics was a deeply fulfilling experience as it reaffirmed the work women have been doing in what is still a male-dominated field,” she said. She is (R)Evolutionary PAGE 26 Putting the Spotlight on the National Stage Moving the awards beyond Colombo, allowed more Sri Lankan women to share in the limelight. The ecipient of the of ‘Gold Award for Human Resources’ at the 2015 ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards, Deshika Rodrigo’s life has seen many changes since the recognition. After an illustrious tenure as the Head of Human Resources at the Standard Chartered Bank Sri Lanka, Rodrigo has leveraged her longstanding career in HR and banking, as well as the accolades she has won along the way, for a dynamic second act. Juggling triple roles as an HR consultant, business coach, and an advocate for women’s empowerment, Rodrigo is using her international and local experience to educate, train, and mentor the next generation of leaders, especially women. Deshika Rodrigo Having the award behind my name, definitely gives me that extra impetus to keep striving forward,” she said. “Winning the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Award and having that recognition as someone passionate about addressing gender related issues, has definitely added credence to my present roles. I speak at multiple forums to various corporate audiences on the challenges faced by women in the workplace and how companies can better support their staff. Having the award behind my name, definitely gives me that extra impetus to keep striving forward,” she said. A contributor to local newspapers, Rodrigo writes on gender parity for working women and is working on a book that chronicles the challenges overcome by working women in Sri Lanka. A contributor to local newspapers, Rodrigo writes on gender parity for working women and is working on a book that chronicles the challenges overcome by working women in Sri Lanka. best practices, and support each other through mentorship and networking opportunities. “As a single working mother, being able to have an independent income enabled me to give my children the best education and opportunities in life. Economic freedom meant that I could make the choices that were right for me,” said Rodrigo. As an empty nester with two kids in college, Rodrigo started the Tara Women’s Empowerment Network, where working women meet, share “Sri Lanka still has a long way to go when it comes to achieving gender diversity at the workplace. But companies are now realizing that for sustainable, equitable growth, diversity is a must. The corporate consciousness is now awake to the possibility of crosscutting gender parity and the healthy business results that will inevitably follow,” said Rodrigo optimistically. Deshika Rodrigo Executive Coach, Outplacement Specialist, HR Consultant and Motivational Speaker PAGE 36 Award: Human Resources–Gold (2015) 09 Women Top 50 37 Women Top 50 Women Top 50 29 Girls should be seen and not heard C oming from a school system which espoused that “girls should be seen and not heard”, I am surprised that I am writing as the Chair of the Judges awarding “Top 50 Women in Management”!. Yes, times have changed indeed , and today women are empowered more and more to compete and excel in areas hitherto unheard of for women. This award program which is a collaboration of WIM, IFC and Australian Aid is very special as it encompasses all areas and social strata of our society. From a firebrand young activist to a silent warrior doing good to a neglected section of our society, to a clever marketing strategist taking a brand to the world, and a savvy corporate CEO, who has reached the pinnacle through sheer hardwork and competence, The TOP 50 WIM awards recognizes and rewards them all. Yes, it is indeed a very inclusive and diverse list of awardees, all carefully evaluated and awarded, purely on their merit. On behalf of the rest of the judges I wish to thank the 3 organizations for organizing this program and sustaining it for the past 10 years . We wish all the recipients our heartiest congratulations and sincere best wishes for future success. We enjoyed reading of your achievements so far and look forward to seeing you progress in the years ahead. W ith over 30 years in the mobile/telco industry, Sandra De Zoysa is Sri Lanka’s only certified Customer Experience Professional. Having won many accolades for Sri Lanka on the international stage, De Zoysa shares that her 2016 ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Award in Marketing was the first local recognition she received for her contribution to the industry. Girls should be seen and not heard “WIM was the first to recognize my work locally. I’m grateful that someone took the time and effort to seek out women who are making strides in their industries. WIM was the catalyst in bringing awareness into my field of customer experience in Sri Lanka, and many others have taken note after this,” said De Zoysa the recipient of three international awards, of which, Constellation Research’s Ambient Experience 50 (AX50) award in 2020 — an exclusive list recognizing global leaders in customer experience — is the latest. SHIROMAL COORAY PAGE As the Vice President of the Sri Lanka Association for Software and Services Companies (SLASSCOM), the national chamber for the Sri Lankan IT/ BPM industry, De Zoysa has been a pioneer in a man’s world. SLASSCOM forecasts that the industry will achieve $5 billion in exports by 2025, creating 200,000 direct jobs and launching 1,000 start-ups. “If you leave 50 percent of the population out of the game, that means you are 50 percent less likely to reach your full potential. Only by getting more women to join the industry and take their seat at the table, would we be able to achieve our target of becoming a five-billion-dollar industry by 2025,” said De Zoysa, who is widely believed to be next year’s SLASSCOM Chairperson and the first woman chair for the Chamber. As an executive committee member, De Zoysa has been at the forefront of SLASSCOM’s many initiatives aimed at increasing the number of female Information Technology (IT) graduates, fulfilling the criteria of diversity in potential partners, building community-wide awareness of career opportunities for women in IT and Business Process Management (BPM). The Women Technopreneurs initiative is one such enterprise targeted at supporting women techentrepreneurs and women-led startups, especially in the rural sector. Sandra De Zoysa Award: Marketing – 09 Gold (2016) Her contributions to the industry gained wide attention when she won the ‘Gold Award for Banking and Finance’ in 2017 at the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards. “The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards was the first time I was recognized outside the bank, where my services were acknowledged by a third party. Sandra De Zoysa PAGE Group Chief Customer Officer – Dialog Axiata PLC Thank you and God Bless you! Top50 Awards - Chair of Panel of Judges 2020 Chairman & Managing Director - Jetwing Travels (Pvt) Ltd Chairman - Jetwing Hotels Ltd The Group Chief Customer Officer at Dialog Axiata PLC, one of Sri Lanka’s largest telecommunications service providers and the country’s largest mobile network operator, De Zoysa manages a team of over 1,000 people and works with multiple stakeholders across the country. 29 I n 1989, when Shashi Kandambi Jassim graduated from high school, Sri Lanka was in a state of civil unrest. Universities were shut down, depriving Kandambi Jassim the opportunity to pursue higher education. Determined, she decided to join Sampath Bank to gain professional qualifications and industry experience. With a career of over 30 years with the Bank, Kandambi Jassim has served across departments and contributed her time to serving the larger industry as an active member of the Association of Professional Bankers — Sri Lanka (APBSL), which has the broadest representation of banking professionals in the country. She went on to serve on the Board of APBSL as the President and spearheaded many training programs and conventions aimed at capacity building and skill development for young bankers. Her contributions to the industry gained wide attention when she won the ‘Gold Award for Banking and Finance’ in 2017 at the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards. “The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards was the first time I was recognized outside the bank, where my services were acknowledged by a third party. It was a huge boost for morale, and I received a lot of appreciation from the industry as well,” said Kandambi Jassim. positions in banking. When I was younger, I used to look up to my seniors and aspire to be like them. Today’s young women have more and more women role models to look up to as they navigate their careers,” she said. Going forward, Kandambi Jassim plans to use her knowledge to help women entrepreneurs start and scale-up micro, small, and medium businesses. “With my years of banking experience, I understand the issues in finance, management, and HR that confront an entrepreneur. I’m also keenly aware of the barriers for women entrepreneurs in gaining access to capital markets and my goal is to form an organization that will help skilled women entrepreneurs bridge these gaps.” Kandambi Jassim continues to be at the top of her game. Promoted to Senior Deputy General Manager Corporate Banking at Sampath Bank, she shares her experiences and knowledge with young aspiring bankers, speaking at various industry and national panels. “I have been approached by many young women who are looking to overcome challenges and reach leadership Shashi Kandambi Jassim Senior Deputy General Manager Sampath Bank Award: Banking and Finance Gold (2017) Shashi Kandambi Jassim PAGE 37 11 Women Top 50 Top50 Professional & Career Women Awards Women Top 50 30 Panel of Judges 2020 Nadija Tambiah, Executive Vice President of John Keells Group, Shiromal Cooray, H.E. David John Holly, Chair of Panel of Judges 2020Chairman & Managing Director of Jetwing Travels, High Commissioner of Australia to Sri Lanka, Nisthar Casim, Editor of Daily Finance Times, Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, CEO of Clootrack Sri Lanka/Maldives & Pakistan, Rohan Maskorala, CEO of Shippers Academy Colombo (Pvt) Ltd. Kumar Samarasinghe Marketing Consultant Thamari Senanyake, Associate Director Corporate of Regulatory Affairs & Consumer Care Fontera Brands Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, Jayanthi Dharmasena, Managing Director of Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Ltd, Kumara Samarasinghe, Marketing Consultant, Sarah Twig Program Manager, Women in Work International Finance Corporation Top50 Professional & Career Women Awards Panel of Judges 2020 PAGE 11 Women Top 50 38 W ith over 25 years of engineering and project management experience in energy and environmental engineering, Sharmila Ragunathan was a shoo-in for ‘Career Role Model of the Year’ at the 2019 ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards. An electronics engineer with an MBA from the University of Colombo, Ragunathan has had many firsts in her life. She started her career as a management trainee — one among a small group of women engineers — at Hayleys PLC. Among others, Ragunathan implemented Sri Lanka’s largest township water supply project and secured the nation’s first build-operatetransfer (BOT) project in water/wastewater management. Continuing her tenure with the Hayleys Group, Ragunathan currently sits on the Board of Haycarb PLC and is the Director of Puritas (Pvt) Ltd, Haycarb’s environmental engineering arm. Sharmila Ragunathan Recalling her days as a female engineer in Sri Lanka in 1996, Ragunathan said, “During those early years when I turned up at an Engineering Consultant’s office, I would have a visibly irritated gentleman telling me that he thought an “engineer” was coming to see him!” At the time, Ragunathan was one of a handful of women working in a maledominated field. Executive Director & Director of Environmental Engineering – Haycarb PLC Ragunathan also recalls the ‘not-solaughable challenges’ of navigating highprofile public-private partnerships as a Sri Lankan Tamil woman, amid a war-torn economy. She thanks her employer for providing a discrimination-free environment where she could pursue her passion for sustainable energy and environment. Award: Career Role Model of the Year (2019) Speaking about the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards, Ragunathan noted, “It was overwhelming to see how many young women, especially within my organization, connected with the award. I felt that it gave them a space where they could visualize their goals and connect with a career they valued. Some even reached out to me to share how it inspired and boosted their confidence.” Sharmila Ragunathan PAGE Ragunathan continues her trailblazing work, as she focuses on manufacturing 100 percent locally produced Oxypura facemasks. She aims to take the brand to a global platform while serving communities — affected by chronic kidney disease — through ‘Puritas Sath Diyawara,’ now Hayleys Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility platform. 30 A mother of two, Dilhani Iresha De Silva transformed her onewoman sewing business into a thriving enterprise, selling handloom products to tourists. When she won the ‘Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur Award’ in 2016, De Silva’s DHD Handlooms employed four women, who worked on four machines out of her living room, bringing in a monthly profit of approximately Rs 40,000 ($217). The awards catapulted her to the spotlight, garnering much media attention both nationally and globally. This enabled De Silva to secure a greater number of international buyers. Today, she runs a 12-woman operation, with six machines, and is putting the final touches to a factory space. Prior to COVID-19 pandemic, during the tourist season in her hometown of Galle, DHD Handlooms brings in a monthly profit of approximately Rs 300,000 ($1,630), a 650 percent increase from her previous monthly earnings. “The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards was the first recognition I received for my business. It was like a seal of approval Women Top 50 12 Ten years on, De Silva’s DHD Handlooms has ventured into the export market, boasting a loyal national and international customer base. Through diversification and innovation, DHD Handlooms has stayed ahead of the curve — introducing new and exciting color palettes and producing everything from clothes to soft toys. that attracted more international and local buyers. We were able to grow and scale the business because of this. I received many other regional and national level awards after the recognition from WIM.” When De Silva made the difficult choice to pass on a teaching transfer in favor of being a stay-at-home mom to her two young sons, she did not expect to become a successful entrepreneur. Ten years on, De Silva’s DHD Handlooms has ventured into the export market, boasting a loyal national and international customer base. Through diversification and innovation, DHD Handlooms has stayed ahead of the curve — introducing new and exciting color palettes and producing everything from clothes to soft toys. “The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards gave me the exposure to grow bigger and expand my export share. I was able to earn more and hire more women from my village. My ultimate goal is to make DHD Handlooms a household name and become a female entrepreneur of global recognition,” De Silva added. Dilhani Iresha De Silva A 12 Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny trailblazer in a male-dominated industry, Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny has shattered the glass ceiling and is helping other women do the same. Lessons from an illustrious corporate career “Being recognized for my contributions in the freight and logistics industry was a deeply fulfilling experience as it reaffirmed the work women have been doing in what is still a male-dominated field,” said Wettimuny, the recipient of the ‘Gold Award in the Supply Chain Management’ category at the 2016 ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards. At the time of the award, Wettimuny was the Managing Director and local partner of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics (Pvt) Ltd, a German-based logistics company currently ranked 10th in the world in freight forwarding and logistics. Wettimuny counts over 25 years in the industry. Starting as a management trainee, she worked her way up the ranks. Finally, she started her own business under the name of IAS Holdings (Pvt) Ltd, which comprises two multi-national joint ventures worth US$ 4.8 billion and US$ 2 billion, respectively. In 2015, she was nominated as Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Logistics & Freight Forwarders Association, which is the apex body of the freight and logistics industry in Sri Lanka. She served for two terms and was the first woman to lead an association of such high caliber in the freight industry of the Indian sub-continent. Tania Polonnowita Wettimuny Entrepreneur, Group Managing Director – IAS Holdings Awards: Supply Chain Management–Gold (2016) PAGE 31 Women Top 50 32 Women Top 50 16 Message from the Women Top50 Conference Chair I t was a great pleasure to take part in TOP 50 Conference as Chairperson specially to demonstrate the resilience and agility of Women In Management during a crisis period through meticulous planning and executing key events in the WIM annual calendar. By nature and nurture, women are determined and courageous so this event itself displayed the strong traits women possess, further through this conference Women In Management “ Women in Management had in-depth’ in-depth conversations on stage to discuss challenges encountered by both career and business women/men during a crisis. Over 22 eminent speakers discussed remedies, strategies and success stories through their intensive experience and exposure to shape our thinking and behaviour for the next phase of our journey to create value to our economy and to lead an exemplary manner during a crisis and grateful for all our partners IFC & DFAT and stakeholders for the collaboration especially amidst a crisis that continued with a purposeful cause to contribute to greater success of the TOP 50 Conference presented by Women In Management. We strongly believe rich content and insights definitely inspired many irrespective of gender to be an elite performer in their respective industry at the same time by organizing very first virtual conference members of Women In Management also gained novel set of experience. Shanika Ranaweera Women Top50 Conference Chair 2020 On this occasion, we are very much delighted Message from the WomenTop50 Conference Chair PAGE 16 Message from the New Generation Awards Chair I am truly privileged and honoured to have been chosen as the Award Chair of the New Generation Awards 2020 – the inaugural edition of an exclusive celebration of Sri Lankan youth. As a successful global brand, “Women Top50”, which represents Sri Lankan women in the global stage, has identified and recognized more than 500 women leaders in the past 10 years through the “Top50 WIM Awards”. WIM is a brand to reckon with as a trendsetter and its many admirable initiatives, especially in recognising talent and bringing it to the spotlight, while also making a positive impact to the nation and the economy, and the initiative to recognise youth is an extension of WIM’s ingenuity. It is indeed significant that the National Youth Services Council stepped forward to join hands with WIM for a synergetic private-public partnership to recognise young talent. The New Generation Awards 2020 was held on 08th December 2020 at Regent Country Club – Malabe with the objective of casting the spotlight on extraordinary young leadership by recognising contribution to their communities, to the nation and to the world at large in a range of sectors. Following an extensive process of screening, our panel of judges found 24 young achievers, representing both genders and ethnicities from all the provinces. The journey that has begun with the New Generation Awards will not end here. WIM has already mapped out a strategy to launch a new chapter for youth leaders and to direct them towards continuous development. As a member who joined Women in Management at its inception, being recognized as the “Member of the Year” for the first time at the Top50 Professional and Career Women Awards 2016, being an Executive Committee Member for 04 years and Women Top 50 D Karunaratne When Karunaratne was awarded the ‘Supply Chain and Logistics Gold Assistant Award’ at the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Vice President Career Women Awards in 2019, she already had a proven track record. As Maritime, Logistics the Commercial Marketing Manager & Freight – Aitken at South Asia Gateway Terminals (Pvt) Ltd (SAGT), she had contributed Spence to double-digit growth over three consecutive years. By then, she had also convinced the business to introduce targeted internship and mentorship programs to increase recruitment and retention of women. Award Supply Chain and Logistics–Gold (2019) Since December 2019, Karunaratne has been the Assistant Vice President of Maritime, Logistics & Freight at Aitken Spence Maritime. “Winning the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Award definitely empowered me to position myself as a suitable candidate to this role and expand my experience in the supply chain industry,” said Karunaratne. PAGE A strong proponent of the business benefits of diverse and inclusive workplaces, Karunaratne is a mainstay in many panels and forums. She has been featured in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Business Leaders’ Conclave, IFC SheWorks Sri Lanka partnership, Asia Women’s Rugby 7s Captains Forum, DP World, and AP Moller Maersk Group. She continues to leverage the recognition from the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards in her work to create gender parity in workplaces, provide mentorship, and actively develop talent pipelines for women in maritime and logistics in Sri Lanka. Chairing an award ceremony of this magnitude was a massive undertaking, especially during the most challenging period of recent human history. Yet, I considered it as a great opportunity to have been part of recognising young personalities aspiring to be future leaders, while associating with industry experts, not forgetting the support I received from my fellow organizing committee members - which was truly amazing - in order to reach our common vision. The invisible pillar of strength behind all this was Dr. Sulochana Segera, an individual always passionate about providing equal opportunities to all, someone who is able to recognise underlying talents and sets the platform to showcase those to the world. With her guidance and the team effort of the WIM team, I believe that the WIM Global Brand will achieve success in all future endeavours and I invite everybody to collaborate with us for a successful journey. Kushlani Perera Awards Chair - Inaugural Edition New Generation Awards 2020 passionate about youth Dhashma Karunaratne She continues to leverage the recognition from the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards in her work to create gender parity in workplaces, provide mentorship, and actively develop talent pipelines for women in maritime and logistics in Sri Lanka. “When I won the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards, it was a significant achievement for me, as it was an endorsement of my years of contribution to the Port of Colombo and my team’s and mentees’ hard work and commitment towards performance excellence. Notable awards like this play an integral role in transforming lives and inspires scores of people who day in day out make tremendous effort to impact a team; a business, an industry; an economy, a community; a nation,” said Karunaratne, who was also Chair of Women in Logistics and Transport (WiLAT), the women’s forum of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. Karunaratne served for two terms, mentoring many women in her capacity as an industry leader. serving as the Honorary Secretary of WIM for the last 03 years, I am extremely proud to witness the success and the qualitative improvement that WIM has achieved over a period of time. I vouch for the fact that WIM membership has given me priceless experiences, precious opportunities and unlimited exposure throughout my career and personal life, which I am sincerely thankful for. I am 46 Dhashma hashma Karunaratne is a trailblazer in the maledominated field of maritime logistics in Sri Lanka where women make up a mere three percent of employees. empowerment, Dhashma Karunarathne 32 skills needed to navigate through the challenges caused by the pandemic. Sessions ranged from sharing experiences from women leaders who have led organizations through COVID-19 to coping with work from home, balancing work, family, employer and employee expectations. The conference commenced on 1st December with Hemas Holdings Group CEO, Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson, sharing her extensive knowledge on the theme ‘The paradox of leadership after COVID-19.’ With a touch of personal stories and experiences, Kasturi talked about her journey sharing insights on how situational leadership should be adopted. According to her, “you have to slow down and start the race again when there is a transformation happening.” This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Lessons from the lockdown: Navigating leadership techniques during COVID-19,’ moderated by Summaiya Macan Markar, Head of Legal and Compliance at Allianz Insurance Lanka Ltd. . The insightful session featured Amena Arif, IFC Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Shehara Jayawardena, Joint Managing Director McLarens Group, , Yasas Hewage, Director/Co-founder of Dafedil Academy of Business, , Shermila 33 Women Top 50 Women Top50 Virtual Conference 2020 PAGE 17 T he award for ‘Emerging Leader of the Year’ in 2016 at the ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards marked a turning point in Ranmal Ekanayake’s career. As the CEO of Sri Lanka’s leading design school, Academy of Designs (AOD), which is affiliated with Northumbria University UK, Ekanayake was a well-known leader in the education field. The award inspired Ekanayake to push the envelope further. “After winning the award, I started to think differently and was more confident to venture into a completely new industry. When I got the opportunity to join Sri Lanka’s largest e-commerce network — Kapruka. com — as their Vice President, I was ready for the challenge,” said Ekanayake, reflecting on how the award gave her the confidence to embrace a new challenge in a brand- new industry. Throughout her career, empowering women has been a passion for Ekanayake. She worked hard to ensure there was a pipeline of talented future leaders among the women on her teams, and proudly recalls the many successful former mentees who are now capable leaders. She also provides guidance to rural women in business development, helping them generate income and support livelihoods and well-being. “The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards generated a lot of local media attention and helped me gain recognition for my career in the corporate arena,” said Ekanayake. Today, as the Vice President of Kapruka, she supports small and medium entrepreneurs develop their businesses and thrive in the e-commerce sphere. The program has achieved several goals, including increasing the number of women entrepreneurs in rural areas, assisting them in launching their online businesses, and supporting their household and community. Throughout her career, empowering women has been a passion for Ekanayake. She worked hard to ensure there was a pipeline of talented future leaders among the women on her teams, and proudly recalls the many successful former mentees who are now capable leaders. Women Top 50 51 I never compare myself Ranmal Ekanayake Vice President Grass hoppers.lk WIM Award: Emerging Leader of the Year (2016) Ranmal Ekanayake PAGE 33 Message from the New Generation Awards Chair PAGE with others, but, I work really hard. As the General Manager – Digital User Experience Design & Channel Adoption at Dialog Axiata, Waruni Algama has had a long and exemplary tenure of more than two decades under a single employer, to whom contentment, loyalty and integrity and service had been the drivers that modelled her to the top. Waruni spoke extensively about the creativity and ingenuity required by an effective digital knowledge manager to create a unique user experience. Communication and collaboration are critical skills of leadership in a good designer of user experience said Waruni who spoke on the importance of change in telecom to be up on with the changes therein to intensify the best user experience in the digital sphere. 40 I am passionate about youth empowerment, PAGE 17 Women Top 50 Women Top50 Virtual Women Top50 Virtual Conference 2020 Conference 2020 Wrapped Up with Insights on Leading through Crisis The lockdown and social distancing measures in place has had a significant toll on business operations as well as on employees. This year’s conference focused on leadership techniques and 38 Award: Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur Award (2016) 31 Women Top 50 PAGE T PAGE Founder – DHD Handloom Women Top 50 40 Attorney-at-Law Dilani Alagaratnam’s final assignment with her long-term employer, John Keells Holdings was as President Group HR, Legal, ERM, CSR and Sustainability. In this interview with Women Top 50, Dilani recounted her corporate journey that began when diversity at Board level was minimum, going on to outline the dynamics of the altered workplace setting of today, the issue of gender paygap, skill choices of the emerging workforce, and the influence of the local and global political landscape on business. he four day deliberations of the Women Top50 conference 2020 organized by Women in Management (WIM), in partnership with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Australian Government successfully concluded on a high note. Under the theme ‘Leading Through Crisis,’ this year’s conference, held for the third consecutive year, was hosted as a virtual forum, adapting to the new norm. The conference held during the first week of December focused on sharing knowledge on navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic. Dilhani Iresha De Silva 45 I never compare myself with others, but, I work really hard. PAGE 51

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I n 2020, WIM Top50 Professional and Career Women Awards celebrated 10 years of recognizing women’s achievement in Sri Lanka. Looking back, I realize that, it was not about just an event, it was about the brands that I have created by bestowing recognition to over 500 women serving in different fields, accompanied by a desire to be a light in this dark world that has made WIM Top50 Awards a success. Many people wait for the right time and for a stable environment to initiate something, but that was not the case with me. In fact, I will say that it was the opposite. In my early 30’s I left a promising career to play the role of mother and father to my two children with no financial support. With no business background, I went ahead and started my own consulting company, struggled with home, business and children. As a young woman it was one of the most exacting periods of my life. I believe that I have managed to come this far because I never waited for the right time and neither did I have any reservations about my intentions. what people are made of, still everyone has a story to tell. With these interviews I am still on a learning curve. Many of the individuals that I have interviewed had a story, but most importantly for 90% of them, my talk show was their first public interview. In addition, when Top50 Awards celebrated 10 years in 2020, I introduced the New Generation Awards. I do not believe in being comfortable with where I am today. I continue to look for a purpose in life. The New Generation Awards is aimed at celebrating and recognizing young talent, achievements and contribution to this country. This new awards is different, in that, I made it gender neutral. On 8th December 2020 when 25 young people received recognition for their achievements I realized that there is always a positive outcome when you have the right intention. Changing the game When WIM celebrated 10 years in 2019, I launched Plain-T with Sulo, a Talk Show to change and inspire men and women. I am not a TV presenter, neither do I believe that I possess the looks or training to be a TV presenter. Yet, as a believer in the “Power of Intention”, I launched the talk show under my name. For the past 2 years I have interviewed 40 personalities, local and international, in Sinhala and in English. My intention was to make a change in the way talk shows generally work, where the focus is quite often someone popular, an actor, a business legend or a politician; I wanted to speak with any woman or man who had the ability to inspire others and show that perfect imperfections are The journey of WIM and WIM Top50 Awards was fraught from failures, grew out of an experience that led me sometimes through the deepest and darkest recesses, but through it all its intention was pure; it was a creation that sprang forth from love and passion. I sign off with gratitude to Nilam Samsudeen, who has been the pillar of WIM’s success, to IFC and DFAT for partnering for the past 6 years, to all business partners, friends, WIM members and my family. Dr. Sulochana Segera Founder/Chairperson Women in Management

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T his year’s ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards comes at an unprecedented time. We have all just lived through a year like no other with the ongoing global crisis, triggered by COVID-19, exacting a harsh toll on people and businesses. It remains a challenging time for many women and men. So as we honor the work of top women in Sri Lanka through the ‘Top 50’ Awards by Women in Management (WIM), in partnership with IFC, it’s also fitting to acknowledge that in many ways, women have borne the brunt of the impact from both an economic and social perspective, eating away decades of hard-won battles in terms of gender equality. With plummeting economic activities due to COVID-19 Amena Arif Country Manager International Finance Corporation Sri Lanka & Maldives Persevering through Crisis restrictions, women, who typically earn less and hold less secure jobs than men, are at a risk of losing work and livelihoods. In Sri Lanka, some of the industries hit the hardest by the pandemic, such as the garment sector, are primary employers of women. Women business owners and employees have also often taken on greater household responsibilities, including for child and elder care, in the face of school closures and restrictions on mobility. These factors have combined to result in more women losing their jobs due to the pandemic than men – global estimates suggest women’s job loss rates are about 1.8 times higher than men’s. There has also been a sharp rise in gender-based violence as a result of the worldwide lockdown and the increased financial pressures faced by individuals and families. First a health crisis and then an economic crisis, COVID-19 has taken a severe toll on many businesses, with enterprises large and small either cutting jobs or reducing work hours of their employees. Disruptions caused by lockdowns have also impacted the ability of businesses to keep operating. As we all look forward to a resilient recovery, there is an opportunity for the private sector to rebuild their companies with a focus on gender equality. The women leaders and organizations that are recognized through the ‘Top 50’ Awards are among those at the forefront of this recovery effort. We should look to these award winners as role models and trailblazers for the way ahead. In addition to co-hosting the awards for the last six years, IFC and WIM have together created stronger impact in Sri Lanka creating opportunities for women through the mentorship programs, training events and more recently, webinar series aimed at skilled building for stronger careers for women, enabling their progression from senior management to boards. More than 400 women have participated in these programs adding to the sustainability of WIM and broadening its value add. At IFC, we are helping to address rising inequalities by factoring gender considerations into our COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts and supporting private sector companies and investors to do the same. In Sri Lanka, one of the first countries to draw on support from IFC’s US$8 billion global COVID-19 fast track financing facility, we supported one of our longstanding partners to help small businesses survive and in doing so, helped to preserve jobs. Over one-third of this support went to businesses owned by women. Globally, during the last fiscal year, over one-third of IFC’s advisory portfolio of $1.5 billion was dedicated towards efforts aimed at closing gender gaps. We work with companies to enhance the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women. We also help companies increase women’s access to financial services, technology, information, and markets. Through the Women in Work partnership with the government of Australia, we are working to close gender gaps in Sri Lanka’s private sector while improving business performance. The program is aimed at enhancing the quality of women’s employment in the private sector, support increased access to financial and nonfinancial services for women and women-owned businesses, and help strengthen linkages with women in private sector supply chains. And by recognizing the important role women leaders play in the process of closing gender gaps – as role models, trailblazers and ultimately as individuals who can start to turn the levers of power – the WIM Top 50 Awards are an important part of this agenda.

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A message from the acting Australian High Commissioner Amanda Jewell Acting High Commissioner Australian High Commission Colombo, Sri Lanka Australia is proud to be supporting the Top 50 Professional and Career Women Awards 2020 thorough our Women in Work program. The awards have been recognising and celebrating Sri Lankan women leaders for their contributions to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country for the past 10 years. Awards such as these, within the country, corporations and communities have led to more inspiring stories of Sri Lankan women entering the workforce and global market. This year it is even more important to encourage women to enter, and continue, in the workforce during COVID-19 as they face additional care responsibilities and safety concerns. The recognition and the value attached to these awards is important to encourage more women to take up leadership positions. Among the awards “Male Champion of Change” is an important category in recognising men who support and stand by women on the way to the top. Australia’s own Male Champions of Change initiative encourages male leaders to come together to break down social and cultural norms and create momentum towards greater inclusion and diversity. With only one in three women participating in Sri Lanka’s formal labour force, increasing their participation becomes vital for inclusive economic growth and towards COVID-19 economic recovery. Research shows that increasing women’s participation in the economy boosts sustainable economic growth in the country. In anticipation of achieving this goal, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) collaborate on the Women in Work program, that seeks to increase the number of private sector players who adopt gender-smart business solutions and, as a result, report improvements in their performance. Greater diversity and inclusion in Sri Lanka will, in the long-term, lead to inclusive economic growth in Sri Lanka. Happy 10th Anniversary Top 50 Professional and Career Women Awards!

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Top50 Awards Press Launch

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Girls should be seen and not heard C oming from a school system which espoused that “girls should be seen and not heard”, I am surprised that I am writing as the Chair of the Judges awarding “Top 50 Women in Management”!. Yes, times have changed indeed , and today women are empowered more and more to compete and excel in areas hitherto unheard of for women. This award program which is a collaboration of WIM, IFC and Australian Aid is very special as it encompasses all areas and social strata of our society. From a firebrand young activist to a silent warrior doing good to a neglected section of our society, to a clever marketing strategist taking a brand to the world, and a savvy corporate CEO, who has reached the pinnacle through sheer hardwork and competence, The TOP 50 WIM awards recognizes and rewards them all. Yes, it is indeed a very inclusive and diverse list of awardees, all carefully evaluated and awarded, purely on their merit. On behalf of the rest of the judges I wish to thank the 3 organizations for organizing this program and sustaining it for the past 10 years . We wish all the recipients our heartiest congratulations and sincere best wishes for future success. We enjoyed reading of your achievements so far and look forward to seeing you progress in the years ahead. Thank you and God Bless you! SHIROMAL COORAY Top50 Awards - Chair of Panel of Judges 2020 Chairman & Managing Director - Jetwing Travels (Pvt) Ltd Chairman - Jetwing Hotels Ltd

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