For the seventh consecutive year, the ‘Top 50’ Professional and 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, Takima Tech, and Hospitality Partner Taj Samudra Colombo.
The gala’s top awards went to Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Minister Thalatha Athukorala, Woman of the Year; Cotton Collection Managing Director Niloufer Anverally, Business Role Model of the Year; John Keells Holdings PLC, Ceylon Tobacco PLC and Holcim Lanka Director Premila Perera, Career Role Model of the Year; Swadeshi Industrial Works PLC Chairperson/Managing Director Chulodara Samarasinghe, Best CEO/Leader; and first female Rotary Governor for Sri Lanka and Maldives Gowri Rajan, 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 honours 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 DIMO Chief Human Resources Officer Dilrukshi Kurukulasuriya, Human Resources – Silver; Sri Lanka Telecom Chief Human Resources Officer Indrani Hissale, Human Resources – Gold; Janashakthi General Insurance General Manager (Insurance) Shanaki Ranasinghe, Banking and Finance – Silver; Sampath Bank PLC Senior Deputy GM for Corporate Banking Shashi Kandambi, Banking and Finance – Gold; MSLGroup Sri Lanka Director Caryll Van Dort, Advertising – Silver; Bates Chief Operating Officer Sheron Jayasundera, Advertising – Gold; Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT) Commercial and Marketing Assistant General Manager Catriona Jayasundera, Logistics – Silver; and Lanka Marine Services Chief Executive Officer at Anushka Weeraratne, Logistics – Gold.
At the same time, Xtream Youth Chief Editor 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 and Aesthetics – Silver; Actress Swarna Mallawarachchi received Arts and 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 and 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 CID (Criminal Division) W.I.P P.N. Hewapathirana, Civil and Security – Silver; Assistant Police Superintendent S.P. Wimathi Periyapperuma, Civil and Security – Gold; Central Bank of Sri Lanka Monetary Board Member Manohari Ramanathan, State and Government – Silver; Export Development Board Director General Jeevani Siriwardena, State and Government – Silver; Maharaja Organisation Group Director of The Capital Maharaja Organization/MTV/MBC Channels/Capital Nedra Weerasinghe, Electronic Media – Gold; Dinamina Editor Pushpa Rowell, Print Media – Gold; Hayleys PLC Group HR, Legal, Corporate Communication and Sustainability, Group Security Head Darshi Thalapehwa, Career Achievements – Gold; John Keells Holdings PLC Executive Vice President Roshanie Jayasundera Moraes, 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.