Reflecting on her career journey, several key moments have significantly shaped Senpathi Jayawickrama’s trajectory, leading her to where she is today as the Chief Transformation Officer of Knit Sri Lanka / and Vietnam of Hirdaramani Group.

Over the past 17 years, starting as an accounts assistant in a freight forwarding company, her path has been guided by a commitment to continuous learning and seizing unexpected growth opportunities. One pivotal moment occurred during her tenure at a US-based healthcare revenue cycle management company. Despite contemplating leaving the organization, a spontaneous invitation to join the strategy team altered the course of Senpathi’s career in profound ways. This transition highlighted her innate strengths in strategizing, problem-solving, fostering collaboration among diverse teams, and embracing continuous learning—a combination of skills that has since become instrumental in driving transformative initiatives.

Throughout her journey, she has held diverse roles, from conducting due diligence for cross-border expansion to spearheading transformative initiatives in the apparel sector. These experiences have honed her abilities in strategic planning, execution, and fostering innovation—skills that she intends to leverage to drive transformation in the apparel industry.

The apparel industry is characterized by its dynamic nature and evolving consumer expectations, presenting both challenges and opportunities. To stay ahead, strategic decisions regarding production locations, supplier partnerships, market agility, environmental sustainability, and talent development are crucial. Drawing from her experience establishing manufacturing units in new regions, formulating comprehensive business plans, and spearheading transformative initiatives, Senpathi is committed to navigating these challenges alongside fellow industry leaders.

In the journey towards transformation, her focus remains on fostering adaptability, innovation, and talent development within her teams. By staying agile and forward-thinking, she believes she can effectively meet the evolving demands of the industry while delivering value to stakeholders.

Senpathi is deeply involved in instilling a transformational mindset among her teams. Within the Sri Lankan apparel industry, where there is a unique generational mix across different management levels, she recognizes the importance of tailoring her approach to resonate with each generation’s perspective on transformation.


Effective leadership is paramount in fostering this cultural shift within organizations. It falls upon Senpathi to articulate a clear and inspiring vision for transformation, outlining not only the desired future state but also the rationale behind the change and the anticipated benefits. By ensuring alignment across the organisation regarding the “why” of transformation, she preemptively mitigates many execution challenges and secures collective buy-in from the team.

Senpathi firmly believes in leading by example, adhering to the principle of “walking the talk.” In her current role, she drives the enhancement of vendor negotiation processes by consistently reinforcing trained methods or digital Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) through simple yet probing questions posed to functional leads. This approach ensures that desired practices are ingrained into the organization’s daily operations through consistent reinforcement.

Recognizing the importance of incentives and acknowledgment, Senpathi implements strategies to reward individuals and teams for achieving project milestones or embodying organizational values. By increasing awareness of appreciated behaviours and actions, she encourages more individuals to adopt similar approaches, creating a positive ripple effect throughout the organization.

One common challenge she has encountered in transformation efforts is “analysis paralysis,” where over-analysis leads to indecision. Senpathi steers her teams away from this trap by encouraging calculated risk-taking and decisiveness over the fear of failure. She understands that avoiding decisions altogether hinders progress more than making mistakes and learning from them.

Empowerment and delegation of authority are essential components of driving change, particularly in bridging generational disparities. Recognizing that Millennials and Gen Z  value learning from failures as part of the growth process, Senpathi advocates for delegating decision-making authority and empowering teams to act swiftly, even if it means encountering occasional setbacks. This approach fosters a culture of innovation, resilience, and continuous improvement, which are essential for successful transformation journeys in the long term.

Leveraging technology and innovation is integral to enhancing operational efficiencies and staying ahead of industry trends in the apparel sector. Over the years, Senpathi has witnessed remarkable advancements in technology, particularly in manufacturing processes such as automation, digital production systems, and robotics. These advancements have revolutionized apparel manufacturing production, enabling  to achieve greater consistency, accuracy, and reduced lead times

Another area where technology has made significant strides is in virtual sampling and 3D technology, which have transformed the product development processes. By accelerating time-to-market, minimizing costs associated with physical sampling, and improving collaboration across teams, these technologies have become invaluable assets for efficiency and innovation. While emerging technologies like NFTs and Phygital experiences show promise, their true impact on the fashion industry’s future is yet to be fully realized.

She believes that the digital revolution in the front end, where the transformation efforts she is currently leading lies in, is yet to take shape and is excited about the future and its potential.



Looking ahead, Senpathi is particularly excited about further digitizing the supply chain and integrating AI and machine learning algorithms. This includes initiatives such as predictive maintenance, dynamic pricing strategies, and enhancing supply chain visibility through IoT devices. These advancements not only streamline operations but also enable to respond more effectively to market changes and elevate the overall customer experience.

In her view, by embracing digital supply chain management solutions alongside robust data analytics and AI capabilities, Organizations can foster stronger collaboration with suppliers, optimize inventory management, facilitate agile decision-making, mitigate risks, and enhance responsiveness. Moreover, these technologies promote transparency within the supply chain, addressing critical concerns regarding the origins of raw materials and human resources, thereby reinforcing trust and accountability within the industry.

Senpathi accentuates her deep commitment to ensuring that her transformation initiatives are aligned with sustainable practices. Sustainability isn’t just a checkbox; it’s a fundamental principle that guides every decision that is being made in the industry now. Over the years, it has become increasingly evident that as an industry, there is a responsibility to prioritize the well-being of communities, the environment, and the people employed.

Recent events within the apparel industry worldwide have highlighted the dire consequences of neglecting sustainable practices. From labour issues in Bangladesh to controversies surrounding cotton sourcing in Xinjiang and the EU’s stringent regulations on greenwashing claims, these incidents serve as stark reminders of the importance of responsible business practices.

In Sri Lanka, many leading players in the apparel industry,  operate within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, most of these Organizations are committed to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), allowing them to set emission reduction targets as part of the climate action agenda. Social sustainability remains a key focus, with phased-out targets set for the years ahead.

The days when the sustainability goals are only about minimizing the environmental footprint are long gone for the apparel industry. It is all about promoting ethical and socially responsible practices throughout operations as well – rightly so, it has turned more holistic now which is a fact she believes is a win for everyone By integrating sustainability into transformation initiatives, the aim is to positively impact both the business and the environment, creating a more resilient and responsible future for all stakeholders involved.

In the dynamic landscape of the apparel industry, where every day brings new challenges and opportunities, Senpathi firmly believes in the adage, “Every day is a school day.” Each day presents her with a fresh set of processes to evaluate and refine, making every moment a valuable learning experience. Working alongside a talented team, particularly with Gen Z individuals, exposes her to innovative approaches and technologies, enriching her understanding of the industry’s evolving dynamics.


To facilitate her personal growth, Senpathi has cultivated several habits aimed at staying abreast of industry trends and advancements. She dedicates time daily to reading industry-related articles and staying updated on the latest technological innovations. This not only enhances her professional capabilities but also enriches her interactions beyond the workplace. Furthermore, she actively seeks out opportunities to enroll in courses relevant to her interests, such as sustainable fashion, artificial intelligence, and digital transformation, leveraging online resources to expand her knowledge base continuously.

When offering advice to women aspiring for leadership roles in the apparel industry, Senpathi emphasizes the importance of challenging self-imposed limitations. It’s essential to recognize and overcome societal norms that may hinder one’s progress. By cultivating a mindset free from preconceived barriers, women can pursue their goals with confidence, and determination and embrace moments of vulnerability.

“Authenticity is another cornerstone of effective leadership, particularly for women navigating the corporate landscape. While there may be stereotypes surrounding leadership styles, embracing one’s unique approach fosters genuine leadership qualities and encourages inclusivity. Despite facing biases and misconceptions, women must assert themselves and advocate for their contributions. By staying true to themselves and speaking up for their worth, women pave the way for meaningful contributions and personal growth, both professionally and personally,” she stated.

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