‘Top 50’ Professional & Career Women Awards 2017 recognizes trailblazers
from Sri Lanka and Maldives
Promoting gender equality among the women closest to you; your wife, your sister, your daughter, can lead to significant change in the landscape of a country. Sri Lanka especially needs this change, as the constraints restricting women’s participation in the labor force are behavioral and social in nature, according to Dr. Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
Dr. Pswarayi-Riddihough made these comments at the recent ‘Top 50’ Professional & Career Women Awards 2017, where women business leaders, both corporate and small and medium entrepreneurs, as well as women in the public sector and civil society, were recognized for their achievements. The Awards were presented by Women In Management (WIM), in partnership with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
“This award is not just a personal achievement, it’s for the nation, for our future generations. I have been traveling for the last few years to many neighboring countries as a Guest Speaker for Women in Business and I regret to say that only Sri Lankan women are uncomfortable receiving awards. Everywhere else, women are so competitive. They believe in themselves, and that they deserve to be recognized. They believe they can be the nation’s mentors. Sri Lanka’s women leaders too should endeavor to win awards, to motivate and mentor the next generation following them,” said Dr. Sulochana Segera, the Founder of Women in Management.
Held for the seventh consecutive year, the ‘Top 50’ Professional & Career Women Awards 2017 were presented by WIM in partnership with IFC, and supported by Platinum Sponsor Coral Properties, Gold Sponsor Singer, Silver Sponsors Lanka IOC and Sino Asia Holidays, Bronze Sponsors Coca Cola 5by20, McLarens Group and Takima Tech, and Hospitality Partner Taj Samudra Colombo.
The gala’s top awards went to Hon. Thalatha Athukorala, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Employment, for Woman of the Year; Niloufer Anverally, Managing Director of Cotton Collection, for Business Role Model of the Year; Premila Perera, Director at John Keells Holdings PLC, Ceylon Tobacco PLC and Holcim Lanka, Career Role Model of the Year; Chulodara Samarasinghe, Chairperson/Managing Director of Swadeshi Industrial Works PLC, Best CEO/Leader; and Gowri Rajan, first female Rotary Governor for Sri Lanka and Maldives, for International Leadership.
Former Sri Lankan Permanent Representative to the United Nations Tamara Kunanayakam, Barefoot Founder Babara Sansoni, Kayts Divisional Secretary E. Anton Yoganatagam and Takima Tech Lanka Chairperson Dr. Sahida Hettiarachchi were also recognized as Inspirational Women of the Year. In addition, Sanasa Development Bank PLC Chairperson Samadani Kiriwandeniya and entrepreneur Prima Croose Ganarajahn, respectively, took home honors in the Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Large) and Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Small) categories.
For the Maldives, Juway’s Café and Restaurants Managing Director Juwayriyya Wajdy was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year, while Jal Health and Beauty Spa Founder Shaira Saleem received the Business Role Model of the Year recognition and Sun Siyam Chairman’s Bureau Director/State Trading Organization Non-Executive Director Aishath Rafiyya walked away with the Career Achievement award.
An important section of the Awards, the “Upcoming Women Entrepreneurs” category featured Aloka Foods proprietor Wasanthi Karunathilake, from Hambanthota; women’s activist and food center owner Kanesamoorthy Rajakala, from Batticaloa; clay pot manufacturing, small business owner B. N. Nandawathi, from Ampara; Good Luck Batik Creations, started by a collective of war displaced families in Cheddikulam; and Abaya designer and family breadwinner M.A. Azlima, from Kalmunai.
2017 also saw the awarding of Dilrukshi Kurukulasuriya, Chief Human Resources Officer at DIMO, for Human Resources – Silver; Indrani Hissale, Chief Human Resources Officer at Sri Lanka Telecom, for Human Resources – Gold; Shanaki Ranasinghe, General Manager (Insurance) at Janashakthi General Insurance, for Banking & Finance – Silver; Shashi Kandambi, Senior Deputy GM for Corporate Banking at Sampath Bank PLC, for Banking & Finance – Gold; Caryll Van Dort, Director at MSLGroup Sri Lanka; for Advertising – Silver; Sheron Jayasundera, Chief Operating Officer at Bates, for Advertising – Gold; Catriona Jayasundera, Assistant General Manager for Commercial and Marketing at Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT), for Logistics – Silver; and Anushka Weeraratne, Chief Executive Officer at Lanka Marine Services, for Logistics – Gold.
At the same time, Chief Editor of Xtream Youth Vindya Vithana won Young Leaders (Business) – Gold; Attorney-at-Law and Women’s Activist Hasanah Cegu Isadeen received Young Leader (Social) – Gold; Global technology executive and Emojot Inc Founder Shahani Markus was awarded Information Technology – Gold; Paradise Road Director Saskia Fernando won Arts & Aesthetics – Silver; actress Swarna Mallawarachchi received Arts & Aesthetics – Gold; Café Kumbuk Joint Owner/Director Shana Dandeniya was awarded Hospitality – Silver; and Aitken Spence PLC Executive Director Stasshani Jayawardena won Hospitality – Gold.
Further, CIC Holdings General Manager (Corporate Affairs and Business Innovation) Neelika Thilakaratne was awarded Corporate Communication – Silver; MAS Intimates General Manager (Corporate Communication/CSR & Women’s Advocacy) Shevanthi Fernando was recognized with Corporate Communication – Gold; Keells Super Head of Communications and Media Shevanthi Rajanathan was awarded for Marketing – Silver; Hemas Manufacturing General Manager (Marketing) Fiona Juriansz Munasinghe won for Marketing – Gold; MAS Holdings Director (Legal) Rajitha Jayasuriya won Legal – Silver; and National Child Protection Authority Chairperson Marini De Livera received Legal – Gold.
Other notable winners in 2017 included W.I.P P.N. Hewapathirana, CID (Criminal Division), for Civil & Security – Silver; S.P. Wimathi Periyapperuma, Assistant Police Superintendent, for Civil & Security – Gold; Manohari Ramanathan, Member of the Monetary Board of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, for State & Government – Silver; Jeevani Siriwardena, Director General of the Export Development Board, for State & Government – Silver; Nedra Weerasinghe, Group Director of The Capital Maharaja Organization/MTV/MBC Channels/Capital Maharaja Organisation, for Electronic Media – Gold; Pushpa Rowell, Editor of Dinamina, for Print Media – Gold; Darshi Thalapehwa, Head of Group HR/Legal/Corporate Communication & Sustainability/Group Security at Hayleys PLC, for Career Achievements – Gold; Roshanie Jayasundera Moraes, Executive Vice President of John Keells Holdings PLC, for Career Achievements – Gold; and fastest women in South Asia Rumeshika Kumari, for Sports – Gold.
Meanwhile, Hilton Colombo was recognized as the Best Private Sector Organisation Promoting Women in the Workplace, while NDB Bank was highlighted as Best CSR Programme in the Private Sector for Women’s Empowerment.