Women in Management, IFC and Government of Australia recognise
inspiring women from Sri Lanka and Maldives in ‘Top50’ Professional and
Career Women Awards 2021

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 DirectorMAS Holdings, Member of the Board of MAS Capital (Pvt) Ltd. (Apparel Board)
Banking Industry (Banking Professionals) Keasila JayawardanaChairpersonNational Savings Bank
Finance Services (Finance Professionals, Auditors, Insurance services, Stockbrokers & Leasing)Dinali KatipearachchiVice PresidentAitken Spence Corporate Finance (Pvt) Ltd
Marketing & Marketing Communications (Sales, Brands, Customer Care, Public Relations)Kavindra RajapaksaVP/Head of MarketingSoftlogic Life Insurance PLC
 Legal Ambika SatkunanathanHuman Rights Lawyer and FellowOpen Society Foundation
State & Government SectorGrace AsirwathamAmbassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and Head of Mission to the European UnionMinistry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lanka
Corporate CommunicationManindri BandaranayakeChief Branding Marketing OfficerJanashakthi Group
Digital MediaTharindi ThalahitiDeputy EditorPulse – Derana Macroentertainment Pvt Ltd
Supply Chain & Logistics  Deborah DissanayakeGeneral Manager SalesExpolanka Freight Pvt Ltd
Hospitality Industry (Careers in Tourism, Food & Beverage, Travel, Transport, Meetings & Events, Entertainments & Attractions)Chandra MadanayakeManaging DirectorFab Foods Pvt Ltd
Arts & Entertainment IndustryAnoli PereraAn artist and arts writer 
Defence Force & Civil SecuritySSP R. A. Darshika KumariDirectorThe Bureau for the Abuse of Children & Women
SportsThampu Nelka ShiromalaThe first ever Sri Lankan Boxing referee and judge who officiated at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics 
Educator (Educational Institutes, Schools, Universities etc.)Prof. Mangala GunatilakeAssociate Professor/Professor, Depart of Physiology, Managing Director  Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Science, Technology & ResearchProf. Hiranya PeirisProfessor 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 SectorDr. Padma Sriyani GunarathnaPresidentSri Lanka Medical Association
Corporate Leader of the YearVidya SivarajaManaging DirectorFonterra Sri Lanka & India
Woman Board Director of the YearThushara WijewardenaNon-Executive Independent DirectorCommercial Bank of Ceylon PLC
Career Role Model of the YearThilanka AbeywardenaCMO Lead – South East Asia New MarketsMicrosoft Sri Lanka
Business Role Model of the YearFazeela DharmaratnaProprietor CeeBees Preschool and Child Care Centre and Creche Services 
Male Champion of ChangeAjay AmaleanCo-Founder/ChairmanMAS Holdings
Social Change Maker of the YearDevadharmini Selvika SahathevanExecutive DirectorUnited Humanity
Inspirational Professional Woman of the YearDr Maheshi RamasamyClinical Medicine, MedicineBritish-Sri Lankan physician and lecturer. She is currently working as one of the chief investigators at the Oxford Vaccine Group.
Inspirational Woman of the YearProf. Nadira KarunaweeraChair and Senior Professor of ParasitologyFaculty of Medicine, University of Colombo
Trail BlazerAruni GoonetillekeChairpersonHNB Bank
Game Changer of the YearRandhula De SilvaFounder CEOGLX (Good Life X)
Judges Award                                      Dr. Vajira ChithrasenaVeteran Sri Lankan traditional dancer, choreographer, and teacher 
Print MediaChandani KirindeSenior JournalistWijeya Newspapers Limited
Electronic MediaChethana LiyanageSATANA Political PresenterSirasa – Maharaja Group
Career AchievementsShani Calyaneratne KarunaratneAmbassador-designate at the Sri Lanka Embassy in LebanonEmbassy of Lebanon
 Career AchievementsDevika EllepolaSales Manager – Commercial Operations, Sri LankaEmirates Airline
 Career AchievementsDarshika JayasekaraProject Director – New Bridge Construction Project Over Kelani River Eng. 
 Career AchievementsSummaiya Macan MarkarChief Legal ,Compliance and Privacy OfficerAllianz Insurance  Lanka Ltd
Local Global (Outstanding Personality who is Sri Lankan and leading global venture)Suhanya RaffelMuseum DirectorM+, Hong Kong
Positive Media Campaign on the empowerment of WomenNDB/SIRASA“Sri Lanka Vanithabhimana” 
Best NGO/INGO or Association Fostering Women’s EmpowermentSOS 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 OrganizationHirdaramani ApparelWOW – The Wonders of Wellbeing program 
Inspirational Woman with Attitude and SkillsAsanthi Ruwanmani De SilvaA novel writer, song writer, poet, critic and swimmerVisually impaired
Inspirational Young Entrepreneur of the YearHarshi ManamendraFounding DirectorIshara Ventures Pvt Ltd
Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Large)Shea WickramasingheGroup Managing DirectorCeylon Biscuits Limited
Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Small)Kirithika ThushyanthaManaging DirectorTechno Brain International Pvt Ltd
Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur (Small)Adhisha DahanayakeFounding  DirectorDouble XL Pvt Ltd
Upcoming Woman EntrepreneurNayanathara Wimalaguna KodituwakkuProprietorTara Watergate Hotel
Upcoming Woman EntrepreneurPulani RanasingheFounder / CEOLoons Lab Pvt Ltd
Social Entrepreneur of the YearRuchini LiyanageManaging Directress Sunimal’s
Upcoming Woman EntrepreneurShanthini AhangamaFounder/CEOCoconut Miracle Pvt Ltd
Upcoming Woman EntrepreneurD M PodimanikeProprietorBhagya Pan Production – Polonnaruwa
Upcoming Woman EntrepreneurG.SivajothiProprietorLakshmi Product – Kalmunai
Professional Role Model of the YearJustice Aisha Shujune MuhammadJusticeSupreme Court  
Career Achiever of the YearAishath JenniferIsland Aviation Services LimitedDeputy Managing Director
Woman with a CauseDr Fathimath Nazla RafeegHealth Protection AgencyMedical Officer (Head, Communicable Disease Control)
Inspirational Woman of the YearMaimoona AboobakuruHealth Protection AgencyDirector General
Climate Action AwardAishath Hudha AhmedIndependent Environment Consultant 
Entrepreneur of the YearAbidha Ismail AliDesigner Fabrics 


About WIM

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 for global success. For more information, please click on the links below:






About IFC

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2021, IFC committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity as economies grapple with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

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