The ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021 – hosted by Women in Management (WIM), in collaboration with Women in Work, a partnership between IFC and the government of Australia – recently honoured inspiring professional and career women in Sri Lanka and Maldives making a mark in their respective fields.
The 11th edition of the awards ceremony celebrated women representing a wide array of professions from industries including hospitality, banking and finance, logistics and supply chains, entrepreneurship, and media and law, among others, for excellence in either their chosen careers or for inspiring women in their community. The awards also lauded Sri Lankan corporates that have supported the growth and empowerment of women in the workplace.
Top awards were conferred to Dr. Maheshi Ramasamy (Inspirational Professional Woman of the Year), Prof. Nadira Karunaweera (Inspirational Woman of the Year), Aruni Goonetilleke (Trail Blazer), Randhula De Silva (Game Changer of the Year) and Dr. Vajira Chithrasena (Judges Award). The full list of awardees is listed below.
“The 2021 awards are a celebration of resilience, optimism, hard work and growth. As we step into a third year of a pandemic, this year’s winners remind us of the possibilities and opportunities that can exist in adversity,” said Dr. Sulochana Segera, Founder/Chairperson of Women in Management (WIM). “They also remind us of the extraordinary potential women in Sri Lanka and the Maldives are capable of, especially in challenging the status-quo for greater good. Women are often hesitant to take their spot in the limelight, but over the past decade, the Top50 Awards have created a platform helping them showcase their talents and achievements, and importantly to inspire others.”
With over 470 past award winners, the ‘Top50’ Professional and Career Women Awards aim to showcase the significant role women play as leaders, employees, entrepreneurs, and stakeholders in contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the country.
Marking IFC’s seventh consecutive year in co-hosting the event, Victor Antonypillai, Acting Country Manager for IFC Sri Lanka and Maldives said, that “To ensure a resilient recovery, the path should be gender inclusive – women should be at the heart of the path to recovery. We need to ‘build forward fairer’ for economies and societies to build back better.” Supported through the IFC-DFAT Women in Work program, this year’s Top50 Awards aims to showcase the resilient leadership Sri Lankan women have shown, amid a pandemic.
Also, speaking at the event, David Holly, Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives remarked that, “Over the years, the ‘Top50’ Awards have shown the power of women in business inspiring many others in leadership and in society more generally. The 2022 Awards are a tribute to the resilience of Sri Lankan women, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021 were powered by Dialog, along with Gold Sponsors Salota International and Singer. Silver sponsors for the awards included Lanka IOC, Unilever, Vision Care and Aitken Spence. Maliban and Sampath Bank were also sponsors of the event, and the gifting Partner for the award ceremony was New Vivya.
Speaking of the award winners, Nadija Tambiah, Head of Legal, Secretarial and Corporate Social Responsibility at John Keells Holdings and Chair of 2021 Judging Panel, said that the “quality of the women who were nominated or who applied this year was impressive. We were forced not only to look at the accomplishments of these women in their chosen vocations but also what impact they have had in the industry and what they have done for women in their organisations.”
This year’s Judging Panel—chaired by Nadija Tambiah—included Jayanthi Dharmasena, Managing Director of Hayleys Agriculture Holdings Ltd; Kishu Gomes, Group MD/CEO of Dreamron Group of Companies; Nisthar Cassim, Founding Editor and CEO of Daily FT; Rohantha Athukorala, CEO of Clootrack Sri Lanka/Maldives & Pakistan; Sandra De Zoysa, Group Chief Customer Officer at Dialog Axiata PLC; Sandya Salgado, Strategic Marketing Professional; Santosh Menon, CEO of KL.LK; Amanda Jewell, Acting Australian High Commissioner for Sri Lanka; and Sarah Twigg, Program Manager for Women in Work at IFC.
BOX: ‘Top 50’ Professional and Career Women Awards 2021 Winners
|Human Resources (includes HR, HRD & IR)||Dinali Peiris||Group Human Resources Director||MAS Holdings, Member of the Board of MAS Capital (Pvt) Ltd. (Apparel Board)|
|Banking Industry (Banking Professionals)||Keasila Jayawardana||Chairperson||National Savings Bank|
|Finance Services (Finance Professionals, Auditors, Insurance services, Stockbrokers & Leasing)||Dinali Katipearachchi||Vice President||Aitken Spence Corporate Finance (Pvt) Ltd|
|Marketing & Marketing Communications (Sales, Brands, Customer Care, Public Relations)||Kavindra Rajapaksa||VP/Head of Marketing||Softlogic Life Insurance PLC|
|Legal||Ambika Satkunanathan||Human Rights Lawyer and Fellow||Open Society Foundation|
|State & Government Sector||Grace Asirwatham||Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and Head of Mission to the European Union||Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka|
|Corporate Communication||Manindri Bandaranayake||Chief Branding Marketing Officer||Janashakthi Group|
|Digital Media||Tharindi Thalahiti||Deputy Editor||Pulse – Derana Macroentertainment Pvt Ltd|
|Supply Chain & Logistics||Deborah Dissanayake||General Manager Sales||Expolanka Freight Pvt Ltd|
|Hospitality Industry (Careers in Tourism, Food & Beverage, Travel, Transport, Meetings & Events, Entertainments & Attractions)||Chandra Madanayake||Managing Director||Fab Foods Pvt Ltd|
|Arts & Entertainment Industry||Anoli Perera||An artist and arts writer|
|Defence Force & Civil Security||SSP R. A. Darshika Kumari||Director||The Bureau for the Abuse of Children & Women|
|Sports||Thampu Nelka Shiromala||The first ever Sri Lankan Boxing referee and judge who officiated at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics|
|Educator (Educational Institutes, Schools, Universities etc.)||Prof. Mangala Gunatilake||Associate Professor/Professor, Depart of Physiology, Managing Director||Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka Association for Laboratory Animal Science|
|Science, Technology & Research||Prof. Hiranya Peiris||Professor of Astrophysics at University College London (UCL), Director of the UCL Cosmoparticle Initiative, and a Director of the Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics in Stockholm|
|Health & Medical Sector||Dr. Padma Sriyani Gunarathna||President||Sri Lanka Medical Association|
|Corporate Leader of the Year||Vidya Sivaraja||Managing Director||Fonterra Sri Lanka & India|
|Woman Board Director of the Year||Thushara Wijewardena||Non-Executive Independent Director||Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC|
|Career Role Model of the Year||Thilanka Abeywardena||CMO Lead – South East Asia New Markets||Microsoft Sri Lanka|
|Business Role Model of the Year||Fazeela Dharmaratna||Proprietor||CeeBees Preschool and Child Care Centre and Creche Services|
|Male Champion of Change||Ajay Amalean||Co-Founder/Chairman||MAS Holdings|
|Social Change Maker of the Year||Devadharmini Selvika Sahathevan||Executive Director||United Humanity|
|Inspirational Professional Woman of the Year||Dr Maheshi Ramasamy||Clinical Medicine, Medicine||British-Sri Lankan physician and lecturer. She is currently working as one of the chief investigators at the Oxford Vaccine Group.|
|Inspirational Woman of the Year||Prof. Nadira Karunaweera||Chair and Senior Professor of Parasitology||Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo|
|Trail Blazer||Aruni Goonetilleke||Chairperson||HNB Bank|
|Game Changer of the Year||Randhula De Silva||Founder CEO||GLX (Good Life X)|
|Judges Award||Dr. Vajira Chithrasena||Veteran Sri Lankan traditional dancer, choreographer, and teacher|
|Print Media||Chandani Kirinde||Senior Journalist||Wijeya Newspapers Limited|
|Electronic Media||Chethana Liyanage||SATANA Political Presenter||Sirasa – Maharaja Group|
|Career Achievements||Shani Calyaneratne Karunaratne||Ambassador-designate at the Sri Lanka Embassy in Lebanon||Embassy of Lebanon|
|Career Achievements||Devika Ellepola||Sales Manager – Commercial Operations, Sri Lanka||Emirates Airline|
|Career Achievements||Darshika Jayasekara||Project Director – New Bridge Construction Project Over Kelani River Eng.|
|Career Achievements||Summaiya Macan Markar||Chief Legal ,Compliance and Privacy Officer||Allianz Insurance Lanka Ltd|
|Local Global (Outstanding Personality who is Sri Lankan and leading global venture)||Suhanya Raffel||Museum Director||M+, Hong Kong|
|Positive Media Campaign on the empowerment of Women||NDB/SIRASA||“Sri Lanka Vanithabhimana”|
|Best NGO/INGO or Association Fostering Women’s Empowerment||SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka|
|Best Organizational Culture Award (Gender Equal, Inclusive and Respectful Workplace)||AIA Insurance Lanka Ltd|
|Best ESG Project on Women’s Empowerment by an Organization||Hirdaramani Apparel||WOW – The Wonders of Wellbeing program|
|Inspirational Woman with Attitude and Skills||Asanthi Ruwanmani De Silva||A novel writer, song writer, poet, critic and swimmer||Visually impaired|
|Inspirational Young Entrepreneur of the Year||Harshi Manamendra||Founding Director||Ishara Ventures Pvt Ltd|
|Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Large)||Shea Wickramasinghe||Group Managing Director||Ceylon Biscuits Limited|
|Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Small)||Kirithika Thushyantha||Managing Director||Techno Brain International Pvt Ltd|
|Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Small)||Adhisha Dahanayake||Founding Director||Double XL Pvt Ltd|
|Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur||Nayanathara Wimalaguna Kodituwakku||Proprietor||Tara Watergate Hotel|
|Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur||Pulani Ranasinghe||Founder / CEO||Loons Lab Pvt Ltd|
|Social Entrepreneur of the Year||Ruchini Liyanage||Managing Directress||Sunimal’s|
|Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur||Shanthini Ahangama||Founder/CEO||Coconut Miracle Pvt Ltd|
|Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur||D M Podimanike||Proprietor||Bhagya Pan Production – Polonnaruwa|
|Upcoming Woman Entrepreneur||G.Sivajothi||Proprietor||Lakshmi Product – Kalmunai|
|Professional Role Model of the Year||Justice Aisha Shujune Muhammad||Justice||Supreme Court|
|Career Achiever of the Year||Aishath Jennifer||Island Aviation Services Limited||Deputy Managing Director|
|Woman with a Cause||Dr Fathimath Nazla Rafeeg||Health Protection Agency||Medical Officer (Head, Communicable Disease Control)|
|Inspirational Woman of the Year||Maimoona Aboobakuru||Health Protection Agency||Director General|
|Climate Action Award||Aishath Hudha Ahmed||Independent Environment Consultant|
|Entrepreneur of the Year||Abidha Ismail Ali||Designer Fabrics|