The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, the country’s premier business chamber, yesterday announced the appointment of Dhara Wijayatilake, attorney-at-law, as its new CEO, with effect from March 01, 2016. Her appointment to the 176-year-old institution comes following the resignation of Mangala P.B. Yapa,
who served as CEO of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce since November 2014, to take up the position as the Head of the proposed Agency for Development under the Development Strategies and International Trade Ministry.
Wijayatilake, who functioned as CEO of the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, an affiliate body of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (from October 2015 to February 2016), counts over four decades of extensive experience in several senior positions in the public sector. An attorney-at-law by profession and a graduate in law LL.B (Ceylon),
Wijayatilake holds the distinction of being the first woman to be appointed as the Secretary to a Cabinet Ministry in the country with her appointment as the Secretary to the Justice Ministry in 1994. During her career in the public service (1974-2015), Wijayatilake also functioned as the Secretary to the External Trade, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry, Plan Implementation Ministry and Technology and Research Ministry
Her experience in these positions included active involvement in law reform initiatives in diverse areas including anti-corruption, anti-money laundering,
cybercrime and protection of women and children, as well as monitoring the implementation of national development projects, introducing the concept of Managing for Development Results (MfDR) in Government and implementation of a public-private partnership relating to scientific research.
Her last appointment in the public service was as Advisor to the Higher Education and Research Minister (2015). Wijayatilake has authored many of Sri Lanka’s reports to the U. N. Commission for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and has led the government delegation to the UN CEDAW sessions to defend Sri Lanka’s report. She has also functioned as the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Justice’, a monthly publication of the Justice Ministry (1985-1989) and was an Editor of the Sri Lanka Law Reports. In the private sector, she serves as a Director of Sampath Bank PLC and the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA).
She is also a member of the Public Service Commission and Law Commission of Sri Lanka. The newly-appointed CEO of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, who is an old girl of Ladies’ College, Colombo, is expected to bring in a new dimension to the 176-year institution, with her mix of experience in the public as well as private sectors.