Written by – Siyathma at OmeBiz
In the current context, Sri Lanka’s corporate world is growing where it has reaped many corporate leaders and entrepreneurs. Some great examples of such leaders are Norman Gunawardene, H K Dharamadasa, and Deepika Gunasekara. What is even more exciting is that their children too turned out to be as successful as they were in the corporate and entrepreneurial environment. Here is the continuation of the list of corporate leaders and entrepreneurs who have marked their own place up the corporate ladder and the market, just as successful as their parents (in no particular order).
To read the first part of ‘Does Success breed Success?’
Ajit, Otara and Ruchi Gunewardene
Norman Gunewardene has left a lasting legacy in both the business and sports world. He studied at Royal College and excelled at both swimming and Rugby. Norman Gunewardene joined Aitken Spence in the year 1959, he worked for 43 years in the company where he ended up being appointed as the Chairman. He had three children; Ajit Gunewardene, Otara Gunewardene and Ruchi Gunewardene.
Ajit Gunewardene excelled mostly in his work for John Keells in its leadership team, where he was the deputy chairman. He has had over 30 years of management experience. Also, he has been on the board of more companies such as Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Colombo Stock Exchange, Union Assurance, Nations Trust Bank PLC and many more.
To read more about Ajit Gunewardene – CLICK HERE
In 1989, Otara Gunewardene started selling clothes on the trunk of her Nissan Station Wagon, until ODEL opened their very first store in 1990 at Dickman’s road. From there onwards, ODEL has opened up many stores to become one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic brands and well-known tourist attractions. In 2010, she was the first female entrepreneur to take a company (ODEL) public in Sri Lanka.
In 2001 Otara Gunewardene was named the “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Federation of Chambers and Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka. She went on to achieve such amazing titles internationally as well, she was featured on CNBC-Asia as a leading “Asian Entrepreneur”. Also, she was inducted into the Dallas-Hamilton Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame in 2009 for her highly successful business career after graduating from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, USA.
Besides ODEL, Otara Gunewardene is most known for her work with embark which she started in 2007. Embark sells canine-inspired ranges of clothing and accessories, where the profits go to take care of the street dogs in Sri Lanka. In 2014, Otara sold off her shares in ODEL to Softlogic for a staggering amount of Rs. 2.4 Billion because she wanted to focus on helping more animals, which has always been her dream since childhood. Ever since Otara has achieved great steps in raising awareness about animal welfare and rescuing and treating street dogs.
Ruchi Gunewardene started off by working in companies such as Reckitt Benckiser, JWT and GlaxoSmithKline in marketing. He started working in Coca-Cola’s South Asian units for a decade before he started his own company STING Consultants in 2002.
STING Consultants is Sri Lanka’s only strategic marketing and consulting firm. They provide services such as marketing and brand consulting, brand valuation consulting and corporate social responsibility consulting. In 2005, STING Consultants established a joint venture with Brand Finance UK to set up Brand Finance Lanka, which provides such as valuations, analytics, strategy and transactions.
Ruchi Gunewardene invested in PickMe alongside his brother, Ajit Gunewardene. He overlooks the marketing and brand positioning.
Hewa Komanage Dharmadasa who is known as the ‘Nawaloka Mudalali’ is one of the top businessmen in Sri Lanka. His story is a classic example of rags-to-riches, he left home at the age of 13 with only 75 cents and ended up being one of the most successful corporate leaders in Sri Lanka. H K Dharmadasa is the Founder and Chairman of Nawaloka Group Companies. Nawaloka Hospital was the first ever in Sri Lanka to introduce the first Intensive Care Unit, CT scanners and many more medical facilities. Nawaloka has grown to be a very successful conglomerate within the next few years by expanding into industries such as construction, aviation and many more.
In 1992, H K Dharmadasa was awarded the ‘Deshamanya’ for his highly meritorious service.
In 2010, Jayantha Dharmadasa became the Independent Non-Executive Director of Sri Lanka Telecom Plc. Finally in 2011, Mr. Dharmadasa became the Chairman of Nawaloka Group, carrying on his father’s legacy. Besides these honorary positions Jayantha Dharmadasa has been the Chairman of the National Film Association, the Sri Lankan Cricket Board and many more associations.
Deepika Gunasekera founded Deepika Gunasekera Salon’s (Pvt) Limited in 1978 which is a pioneering Bridaland Beauty salon in Sri Lanka. They have been known for providing the latest trends at affordable rates. Deepika Gunasekera also opened up the International Academy of Beauticians which provides training programs focusing on hair dressing and beauty therapy.
Hasini Gunasekera carried on her mother’s legacy by being the Director of Deepika Gunesekera Salon and International Academy of Beauticians, helping to bring it on to the next level. In 2013, Hasini Gunasekera was appointed as the brand ambassador of Seri Naturals Ltd.