Leading through Empowerment – Iroshini Wijenayaka, General Manager of Group Marketing & Communications at Ideal Group (Pvt) Ltd.

The winner of the ‘Most Influential Global Marketing Leaders’ award in 2019 and the ‘Woman of Worth’ award in 2021, Iroshini Wijenayaka is one of the leading female professionals in the Sri Lankan corporate world. Her passion to succeed and determination to excel has ensured her success in all her roles leading up to this moment, including the ones of daughter, mother, and wife as well as her current designation as the General Manager of Group Marketing & Communications at Ideal Group (Pvt) Ltd.

An experienced Marketing and Communications professional with an MBA from the University of Western Sydney, an MSc in Strategic Marketing from the Cardiff Metropolitan University of Wales, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, Iroshini also has over two decades of experience in diverse industries, including Broadcast Media, Advertising, Manufacturing, and the Automobile industry.

Before joining her current position she was the Head of Marketing at Sri Lanka Cricket and prior to that was the Deputy General Manager of Group Marketing at Associated Motorways (Pvt) Ltd.  

Her success story began at home, where her parents always encouraged and supported her to reach new heights. “My father is a tenacious and hardworking academic who never took ‘no’ for an answer, and my mother is a housewife with a strong personality who faces every challenge head-on. Watching my parents overcome life’s obstacles with honesty and hard work was inspiring. And although I was the eldest of three siblings and the only girl, neither of us was treated indifferently. These early lessons on equality and perseverance set the foundation for everything I’ve achieved.“

She also has a husband and a son who understand and support her to progress in her career.

“Building my career has been an important aspect of my life. It gives me a sense of personal fulfillment and I was fortunate to always have my family’s support.  Of course, I consider motherhood to be one of the best titles I have ever received and it was vital that I managed motherhood with my work. I think I did pretty well!”

“My husband is a great source of strength to me, and my son, even from a very young age, adapted and supported me as much as he could. The upside of it is that he has grown up to be an independent young man who understands and appreciates that women are just as capable as men”

The Automobile industry is one of the most famously male-dominated industries, especially in sales and management positions; however, with the support of Iroshini’s seniors and her hard work, she proved that women, too, are capable of achieving great heights.

“There have been challenges, but I have been fortunate to have supportive seniors (both male and female) who have enabled me to work hard and break through those glass ceilings.”

Explaining why it’s important to support women’s empowerment, the industry expert divulged, by empowering a woman an entire family is empowered. With empowerment, you enable an employee to take control of their job and use skills they never knew they could.

Furthermore, Iroshini stated that more women in leadership are needed because they bring a unique skill set, more emotional intelligence, and different perspectives that ultimately drive effective solutions. “Women, in my opinion, lead with their hearts and minds, which is a great combination, especially when managing people,” she added.

Sharing a women’s empowerment moment that inspired her, Iroshini mentioned that it was when skilled female workers in the Apparel industry were promoted from Machine Operators to Managers and Supervisors. “It was an emotional experience to watch these ladies who, despite their struggles and circumstances, climb the ladder through their sheer dedication and focus. It also meant their entire family reaped the benefits, and they made it happen. It showed me what a difference those in positions of power can make in people’s lives. As a female corporate leader, it’s a lesson I haven’t forgotten.”

In a message to young corporate females, Iroshini concluded “Dream big, then work passionately to make them a reality, but with honesty and integrity. And be confident enough to raise other women as much as you can. It will pave the way for others like you to follow their dreams.”

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