Inspirational Woman of the Year Gold medal winner
Lilamani Dias Benson
Chairperson, Lowe LDB
This year’s Inspiration Award could not have gone to a more deserving lady – Lilamani Dias Benson whose name is synonymous with Creativity, Professionalism and Leadership.
Lilamani and her Agency was best known for building Brands. Her work on Sunlight and other Unilever Brands over several years is legendary. And her work on NSB, Union Assurance and Elephant House Soft Drinks for instance is also very well known.
She created indelible positionings and Creative leaps for these Brands’s. So much so that the University of Colombo used them as case histories for their MBA Programme at one time and she was required to update them for several years.
The tremendous success she enjoyed with Lowe LDB has now given her the time to do what she loves, paint and travel with her husband. Both she does with the same intensity and commitment she gave the world of advertising.
Working for and with Lilamani was what so many young people in the industry remember. She was demanding, first of herself, and then of everybody else. And she brought out talent, ingenuity, personality and character in scores of young people, who remember her with huge affection.
An inspirational life lived to its fullest; Lilamani was Women in Management’s natural choice for this year’s Inspiration Award.
Appreciating women who strive to make a difference
Women in Management, Founder-Chairperson, Sulochana Segera
‘There is no limit to what you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.’ This is an adage I believe in and practice. I was told and have often heard that women cannot work together nor do women like to take up positions of leadership. I deliberated a great deal on the validity of such a notion. How could a woman build and foster a family, if she is not able to work in a team? How could a woman lead a family and children, if she is not able to command a position of leadership? This stimulated me to seek women who have been good team players and leaders. In 2011, when I discussed the idea of recognising and awarding women for their achievements with Nilam Samsudeen, Director Administration at WIM, his response was positive with a rejoinder to make the proposed WIM Awards unique and different.
Thus, the Professional & Career Women Awards was launched in 2011. It was not an easy task that we had embarked upon, as the concept was new and different, and people were reluctant to partner a New Brand, especially a local organisation bestowing recognition on women who had excelled in their careers and as professionals. I am indeed delighted, yet humbled by the outcome of our efforts. The event became a much recognised and sought after occasion by a great number of organisations where women were in positions of leadership. Our partnership with IFC has transformed this annual event into a global one.
WIM Awards is not an attempt at proving that women are better than men. It is about finding suitable women to mentor the future generation. One cannot counter the notion that women are better mentors in comparison to men. Women are born to be mentors; they are nurtured thus. And, in a country where the productivity of the female population outstrips that of men, there is a dire need to drive more women to contribute to the economy. This could only be achieved if we allow members of the younger generation to hear and witness the success stories of women who have been able to take the mantle of leadership, drive teamwork and bring about change in themselves, organisations, families and the community.
Receiving an award at the Professional & Career Women Awards is indeed a great honour and with that achievement comes the immense responsibility of mentoring and leading other women to take leadership roles, not only to be like you or equal to you but to strive to reach beyond your current position of leadership.
I congratulate all the Award Winners, selected from among many applicants to receive an award at the Sixth Professional & Career Women Awards. I extend my sincere gratitude to all partners, friends and members of WIM for their contributions and teamwork.
Business Role Model of the Year
Managing Director, Maliban Biscuits Manufactories (Pvt) Ltd.
Kumudika Fernando, Managing Director of Maliban Biscuit Manufactories (Pvt) Limited. was honoured as ‘Business Role Model of the Year’ at the recently concluded ‘Professional and Career Women Awards 2016’. Kumudika was recognised for her outstanding efforts in contributing to the national and regional economy through her involvement at
Held for the 6th consecutive year, the award show recognizes exemplary women leaders, and encourages them to become role models for the next generation in order to increase the percentage of women representation in Sri Lanka at the managerial level. Organised by Women in Management (WIM) in partnership with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the award show aims to have women at decision making levels with a representation of 15 percent or greater by the year 2020.
Kumudika was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2009. Today she leads a professional management team as the Managing Director of the company. She received her primary education at the Holy Family Convent in Colombo and completed her higher education in Singapore and the United States of America. She holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology.
Kumudika plays a crucial role in the success of Maliban Biscuit and leads the business through innovation and product development. She was instrumental in implementing a Sales Force Automation and facilitated the entire process of incorporating retailer information to the management decision making process. Furthermore, she pioneered and implemented an ERP system to integrate all business functions of the company.
She has given a new direction to the company by leading all diversification projects both locally and overseas in order to capitalize growing opportunities in the foods business landscape. She is also the live wire behind the strategic planning process that will lead Maliban to greater heights in the landscape of Sri Lankan brands.
Professional and Career Women Awards is the only women organisation in Sri Lanka that organises an awards initiative to recognize outstanding achievements across as many as 25 different categories, from all platforms and industry sectors.
Inspirational Woman of the Year Gold Medal winner
Founder/Principal, Asian International School
The product of a home in which two educationist parents regarded erudition and wit as part of normal living made Goolbai Gunasekara (nee Motwani) an outstanding student who was twice awarded the medal for top Performer of the Year by her College in the University of Bombay.
She has an Honours Degree in History and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature by the Open International University of Sri Lanka. She was given “The Woman of the Year Award in Education” by the Zonta Club of Colombo a little while after it had been won by her own mother.
Mrs Gunasekara’s interests are wide reaching. She was Chairman of the Inner Wheel Club of Sri Lanka and was a keen member of the Club for many years. Following in her parents footsteps she is an educationist herself and is the Founder Principal of the Asian International School – one of Sri Lanka’s best known International Schools.
She is also fine pianist – passing the Royal College of London exams at Performer Level while still in school although she now plays only for her own pleasure.
Goolbai Gunasekara has authored over eight books not only of humour but also of History; Her Biography of her mother titled “Chosen Ground” went into three printings.
Goolbai Gunasekara was one of this year’s Inspiration Award Winner.
Best Woman CEO of the Year
CEO, Ceylon Biscuits Limited (Foods) International
An absolutely deserving award for a dynamic and committed lady who works hands on at the very respected and leading business organization CBL.
Sheamalee Wickramasingha is the Group Managing Director of CBL Group. She has a degree in Food Chemistry from Purdue University USA and a BSc in Food Science & Industry from Kansas State University, USA. She has an interest in Functional and Healing properties of Food and has studied extensively on the subject. She is also an Old girl of Benenden School in the UK and Ladies College in Sri Lanka.
She joined Ceylon Biscuits Limited in 1991 as a Food Technologist and worked in various capacities in the Company. She was invited to join the Board in 1996. She sits on most of the Group Boards, businesses which are in confectionery, cereals, agriculture, soya, coconuts, fruits and retail.
She is also the founder and Managing Director of Modern Pack Lanka Pvt) Ltd. In 2015 Modern Pack Lanka was awarded a World Star Packaging Award from the World Packaging Organization for Design Innovation.
She has been a member of the main committee of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce since 2013 and is currently a Board member of the institution’s first Board.
She sits on the Food Advisory Committee as an industry representative along with many regulators for the industry.
She has also served as an executive committee member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Packaging.
Advertising – Gold Medal winner
Laila Gunesekere Martenstyn
Vice President, The Grant Group
This clipped quote from one of Donald Trump’s many speeches resonates in every aspect of Laila Gunesekere Martenstyn’s life. Nothing can be done without a 110% of her quirky personal brand immersed into it.
Entering the world of advertising as a precocious 17 year old she quickly realized that the essence of advertising was in her blood. Excelling in both the creative and service field, she rapidly moved from junior copy writer to Group Vice President of Grants mastering every milestone in between. Firmly of the belief that if you do not live and breathe the brands you work on, don’t truly understand the local market and empathise with the real needs of your client you have no business being in advertising. Intolent of the superficial, in awe of brilliant ideation, Laila was a previous recipient of the ABP Global Woman Super Achiever Award, the Zonta Woman of Achievement Award, the Harrison McCann Award for Leadership Excellence, the HFD Award for Presentation Skills, innumerable SLIM, Chilli, Sumathi & Effie Awards and now – the Women In Management Award for Extra Ordinary Contribution to the Industry.
Twice on the list of 50 most powerful women in business, the past president of the 4A’s and the current president of the IAA, Laila is the vice president of Grant McCann Sri Lanka, Response Marketing, Juice Production and GPR. With continuous and tremendous contribution to the advertising industry she is a worthy recipient of the award for Extra Ordinary Contributions to Advertising.
Marketing – Gold medal winner
Sandra De Zoysa
Group Chief Customer Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC
Sandra De Zoysa is a pioneer Customer Service Practitioner with over 26 years of experience in the Mobile Industry. A member of the Group Senior Management Committee and Chairperson of the Customer Experience Excellence Group Leadership Committee, Sandra has been leading the Service Delivery function of Dialog Axiata since 1997. Her primary responsibility as the Group Chief Customer Officer of Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka’s premier Telecommunication Service Provider, is to implement and establish the company’s “Vision of Customer Experience Leadership”.
In 2015, Sandra received the Customer Experience Impact Award presented by Customer Experience Professionals Association, USA and she was just one among 7 Service practitioners across the globe to have received this recognition. In 2013, she was ranked among the top 10 most powerful business women in Sri Lanka by the Echelon magazine and in 2011, Sandra was honoured with the Industry Champion Award for Sri Lanka at the Contact Centre World Conference held in Australia. At the Professional & Career Women Awards 2016 organized by Women In Management (WIM) Sandra won the Gold Award for Leadership Excellence for her exceptional contribution and achievements in the field of Customer Service.
A founding member of SLASSCOM, the national IT-BPO chamber where Sandra heads the Quality Forum since 2012 and continues to do so even today, she counts it an achievement to have been the first female to be appointed to the Board of SLASSCOM, within the predominantly ‘male dominated’ IT/BPM industry. She made history as the very first in the country and the region to be appointed to the C-Suite to lead a customer service function. Sandra is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Quality practitioner and is the only CCXP (USA) Certified Customer Experience Professional in the country. She is on the Customer Advisory Board of CX Network IQPC, UK, she is an avid conference speaker within the Global Customer Experience Industry and a visiting lecturer at the University Of Colombo School Of Computing since 2009.
Sandra is enthusiastic and passionate about her work today as when she first started out and says the best piece of advice she took in life and can pass on to other young career oriented females is to ‘choose a job you love so that you never have to work a day in your life’.
Information Technology – Silver Medal winner
Dean/lnternational at Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology
Professor Mahesha Kapurubandara, Dean International of SLIIT, was awarded the silver medal at the 6th Professional & Career Womens’ Awards, 2016, held recently to acknowledge women in management. She is believed to have been the first woman to have been awarded the Professorship for Information Communication Technologies (ICT), in Sri Lanka as well.
Since its inception in 2000, Prof. Mahesha has been a dynamic member of an initial team that worked tirelessly towards the welfare of SLIIT. She has served both as a senior lecturer and more importantly as Head of the initial Academic Division towards the provision of qualified graduates in Information Technology (IT) much required by the industry in Sri Lanka. Focused on growth, raising visibility and moving the institute to its next level of excellence, the Institute flourishes today with a student population exceeding 6,500, spread across different streams, in contrast to the few hundreds initially enrolled. SLIIT enjoys a unique role as the leading provider of well qualified, talented personnel to industry capable of contributing towards innovation, entrepreneurship, and leadership in the country and beyond.
As Dean/International, Prof. Mahesha is responsible for the implementation of the Institutes’s Internationalization Strategy and ensures co-ordination of activities across partner universities. Key aspects of her role are to identify opportunities for collaborations with suitably recognized overseas universities, organizations and governments and to lead and promote overseas student recruitment activities.
Prof. Mahesha has research interests with ITC for Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs), Women Entrepreneurship and Business Process Management (BPM). She has authored or co-authoured many publications in this field. She also serves on editorial boards of many International Conferences and serves as a reviewer.
Towards national education, she has cooperated and collaborated with the Distance Education Department of the Ministry of Education in organizing basic programmes for IT education.
She is an Old girl of Vishaka Vidyalaya, Southlands College, Galle and has degree qualifications from the Colombo Campus of the University of Sri Lanka, MSc from The Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand and Ph.D from University of Western Sydney (UWS), Australia. She has also been a guest professor for teaching assignments with the Uppsala University, Sweden and Nanjing University, China.
Trail Blazers Gold Medal winner