Kshanika Ratnayaka, the Chief Executive Officer at Great Place to Work is a daring female leader who firmly believes that the world needs more of her.
The protagonist is indeed an inspirational character, guiding her team into achieving collective goals. She has also had a circle of exemplary characters around her that have become uncanny motivation towards her accomplishments. From a supportive family that strived to understand and support her passion, to a husband who ensured that she is loved and adored through every step of the way, Kshanika believes that she has been blessed with the best of an abetting sphere. Kshanika says that with the constant push she received to become a woman that is self-reliant and self-sufficient, it was up to her to choose a career path that best aligned with her passion. “The biggest factor I would say is my mindset. This coupled with being passionate about what I do, while constantly challenging the status quo and my willingness to get out of my comfort zone has contributed to my success,”she says, conveying the message of her hard-earned success story.
Kshanika has always been a rebel child, testing boundaries and taking risks, pushing herself to do bigger and better in everything. While she treads on all these challenges, it was her end goal to keep going until the light at the end of the tunnel is reached. Bringing this daring personality to the corporate sector, Kshanika effortlessly stood above the patriarchy, misogyny and challenged the status core that challenged her to be any less than she was. “My mindset is that if you have a passion and goal you can achieve your ambition in spite of the obstacles, and being a woman has never been one of them. My belief was that there was nothing I could do just because I was a woman,” she says. Being a lady with her mind and heart full, enjoying all the non-girly things that the world had labelled so, Kshanika lived her life to the fullest, unconsciously but constantly testing the conventional Sri Lankan mindset. “I took up a career in a male-dominated IT industry and I used to go to the rugger matches and watch the cricket with my father in law. I was in a sense a “non-conventional woman”, fearless of what lay ahead for me”, stated the heroine, leaving with us a glimpse of her gritty personality.
Having proven many men wrong on their corporate misconceptions about women, Kshanika believes in self-confidence, assertiveness, grit, resilience and tenaciousness to bring a woman to the powerful position she now holds. According to her, unless you believe in yourself, it is extremely difficult to rise above a sea of people who are deep-seated in denial of your abilities. She rose as a strong woman and encouraged women around her to grow with her. The judgment, insults and constant doubt aimed at her was an essential part that left her with bitter-sweet memories, which evidently pushed her to become the greatest version of herself. “To be a powerful woman, one must learn to ask for what we want and need to be effective instead of falling victim to the circumstances or waiting for others to identify hurdles and remove them”, she stated, confidently. “Women often set the lower expectations for themselves and shy away from asserting their true value to the business. I had to learn not to retreat from opportunities and dialogues that gave me access to the resources and prospects to climb the ladder and be good leaders”, added Kshanika.
Despite fighting for the bare minimum of equality, women do go through stages and responsibilities in life that men can hardly understand or relate to. Due to this fact, women must make peace with men never really understanding the unseen struggle and thus build the courage to silently push through the obstacles. “It was important for me to demonstrate both self-assurance and determination when it came to the business, and be able to prove that my additional responsibilities didn’t make women delicate or distracted, but instead proved my capacity to carry the load and act as a leader in all aspects, in spite of the hardship”, explained Kshanika. She set her goals long term, had a clear vision of who and what she aspired to be, exhibiting the uncanny grit in her with all she did. Finally, the resilience, that kept her up and running, never forgetting to make the most of a moment while leading her team with grace and positivity counts as one of the most important aspects that catered to her success. Kshanika conveys the heap of responsibilities that she successfully fulfils while living up to the full potential of the name of the company itself. “Your teams are looking to you for emotional strength and courage as you remain positive and look for new opportunities. Hence I needed to demonstrate my ability to adapt, overcome stress and bounce back from adversity in order to thrive.”
As a leader who has well-experienced the pressure of conventional patriarchal beliefs and as a woman who has successfully risen through it all, Kshanika has seen parts of the corporate world that are hardly uncovered, and some of these include the specific difficulties that women go through in the corporate world. She is not one to turn a blind eye to these struggles, ordaining the workforce with her sensitive and empathetic approach.
“Woman leaders drive to balance her professional commitments with her life outside of work and upholding this precarious balance requires resourcefulness and flexibility. In our geographies, this is further exasperated by the social norms in relation to women at work and the related effort and commitment that is required to take on a leadership role, but the commitment to reaching one’s objectives must remain steadfast in order to succeed”.
Even though she is in awe of those taking the leap of faith into becoming corporate icons, Kshanika is not happy with the stagnated amount of women leaders. This influential super lady has won the corporate along with the hearts of many and thus, she leaves a golden piece of advice to encourage the female leaders who clearly have what it takes. “First meet your personal needs and goals. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions and be vulnerable, ask for help when needed. Whatever you do, follow your passion and don’t let anyone make you lose sight of your goals and ambitions as they are as important as the other persons. Don’t choose between career and family the two can and will co-exist. Society needs to adapt, and if you are defiant they will. After all, we need intelligent, decisive and emotionally balanced mothers nurturing their children not unstable or dependent house-mouse. This way the kids of the future will accept that their mothers are a valuable contributor and cog in the wheel on the economy, the boy child will appreciate the wonder woman reducing the prejudice and stereotyping and the girl child will want to emulate the superwomen. Life is full of Superheros.!!”