Managing Director of Widac Commercial Interiors, Chandi Alles is a pioneer in the field of Design. She started her career in New Zealand and returned to Sri Lanka at which point Widac ventured into offering its clients a total interior solution from design to fit out.
Steering Widac’s Projects Division, the Company has participated in many exhibitions and have won prestigious awards locally and internationally.She has an experience of 30 + years in the industry, and has been involved in working with clients that span over all segments of businesses in the commercial sector. Her passion for designs has helped to transform spaces to functional and practical working environments.
To mark 50th anniversary of partnership with Steelcase,Widac organised a CSR project to distribute wheel chairs prostatic legs and dry rations to the needy.
(Q) Your multi-faceted design firm not only deals with design but handles manufacturing of unique detailed products as well. Could you elaborate your unique design philology and how it reflects the key works done by your firm?
(A) Our designs are based mainly on modern and contemporary styles in keeping with today’s trends reflecting the business of the client. As such we work with processed timber and engineered surfaces which can be transformed to bring out unique creativity.
(Q) What made you opt for designer as a career. How has your work evolved over time?
(A) I enjoyed creative work from a very young age and when I went to New Zealand had the opportunity of working with an experienced designer. Her inspiration and my interest in “Design” created a career path for me. I have enjoyed 35 years of work to the fullest, and I gain satisfaction when I saw my creativity transformed into reality.
(Q) Luxury does not mean fancy construction materials or flamboyant installation but spaciousness, diverse usability and availability of options.Your opinion?
(A) Agree to your statement. Luxury can be achieved with less expensive materials. Use of colour , lighting and texture are key elements for the final product.
(Q) What in your opinion what are some of the loopholes that the designers get trapped in while designing luxury projects?
(A) Limitation of materials available at present in the market
(Q) A project close to your heart why?
(A) All projects are close to my heart as each and everyone is given a lot of time from start to finish. Being in love with my work is always the key to achieving better results
(Q)Your most challenging design project? Share the challenges and how you overcame them?
(A) Practicality is fundamental in my design. The biggest challenge I have had is to achieve precision in the final product. Design is a way of living,enjoying lifestyle to the fullest is my forte.
(Q)What is your dream project?
(A) Convert a complex that looks rather rundown to the best making it an icon for others to admire
(Q) How do you combine beauty and function? What do you see for the future of design?
(A) Beauty can be achieved with the correct use of materials, colour and light Nevertheless day to day maintenance needs to be considered as well to let the “beauty” last!
(Q) What are you working on at the moment?
(A) A VIP Lounge and Staff Cafeteria in a Commercial Building
(Q)What is your favourite project date and why?
(A) Etisalat – A well known name in the Telecommunication Industry. Dates back to a decade. It’s considered favourite for reasons below
a. Total design and build was by WIDAC
b. The first in the country to depict the same “Concept” of the Flagship Store and other forty outlets
c. The 40 outlets that it is spread out in the country were completed in one year.
d. Gave us real satisfaction to see our work showcased in main cities and little towns through out Sri Lanka
(Q)What fuels you to do what you do every day?
(A) I need constant excitement and challenges in my work to keep me motivated. I take pleasure in working on turnkey projects which are fast-paced; also anything stereotypical and conventional brings boredom.
I am highly passionate about what I do. There were times when I was not very enthusiastic about some things, but I worked on it by discovering small ways to keep the level of excitement high. Despite the challenges, the show must go on!
(Q) What is your definition of success?
(A) Success is subjective. According to me, it means having a name, fame, recognition, and appreciation for the work done. To have made it in the industry without anyone to endorse me has been my mark of success. I also believe that being able to grow and adapt to the trends and to evolve, yet staying afloat despite hitches, is a success. Although the monetary aspect plays an important role, hard work and honesty are something to be treasured.
(Q) What advice would you give to professional women?
Working women need to be respected as they are the embodiment of the art of balancing work, home, their lives, everything.
(A) I believe that time management is essential to being an organized person, so delegating and outsourcing must be made use of wherever possible.
More importantly, love and trust yourself, also be motivated by setting aside some time for self-care and enjoyment with friends. Learn to laugh and to let go, as there are some situations that are beyond your control and you cannot please everyone. Furthermore, never ever compromise on your self-respect and dignity, because you are worth a lot more than you think.
Breaking barriers and shaping successes
Inspirational stories of Shirley Jayawardana
By Zanita Careem
Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world, a statement made by Hilary Clinton that packs quite a punch. It’s obvious that women face many challenges when it comes to establishing them or growing their own business. Shirley Jayawardana has broken the glass ceiling like many others and established herself as a successful business woman.
A die-hard entrepreneur at heart, shirley helps people define what true entrepreneurship is and what it takes to be a leader, and helps people to dispel the myth of business.Shirley Jayawardana is the first women President of Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industries, Sri Lanka which is the Apex body of the chamber movement in Sri Lanka established in 1973. ( 2020/2022.)
Also presently the chairperson of Ceylon Chamber of women entrepreneurs, she is also a long-standing and well-known member in chamber activities. She is the immediate past president of Central Province Women’s Chamber of Small Industry and Commerce and also has served as senior VP of Central province Chamber of Commerce and Industry for several years.
She is wellknown in the SAARC region serving as Vice president (VP) of South Asia women’s development forum (Sri Lanka chapter) in Nepal and Executive committee member of SAARC chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan. She has also been appointed as the Vice Chairman at Sri Lanka chapter of SAARC Council of Women Entrepreneurs ( SCWEC) affiliated to SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan.
She started her career as a business woman by establishing Media Vision (Pvt) Ltd that was published Kandy Today she functions as chairperson of Wisewell Lanka private Ltd – global trading companies based in USA .
An active social worker, she has many accolades and awards to her credit. The list is too long to mention.
She is the recipient of international award “Professional Women top 50 Global award” and “Priyadarshini Lifetime achievement award”. Also,she has many outstanding achievement awards from Lion’s district 306C1
She has widely travelled and has addressed many international business forums on behalf of FCCISL .and other portfolios, She is also a member of the Institute of Management of Great Britain.
Q Tell us about your background, lifestyle and family life?
A I was a miss Cabraal, eldest in the family of six children. My late father Cyril Cabraal was an Agricultural Instructor.
I studied at the Matara Convent, and did drama, acting and singing in school.I married Dr. Ananda Jayawardana at the age of 24 and a mother and a housewife for twenty four (24) years. My husband Dr. Ananda Jayawardana was a retired Executive Director of Link Natural Products and Ceylon Tobacco Company. I have three grown up children
Q How would you define true entrepreneurship?
A First,to do the stuff I want to do but you have to deliver value and do it constantly and secondly you should have clarity of thought . A true entrepreneur can explain what they do in any language that the stakeholder needs to understand it. Always one should have clarity and purpose.
Q What motivated you to take up entrepreneurship?
A I never thought I will become a business woman. In school, I had multi-faceted talent, everyone thought I might take up acting or singing but my parents were opposed to this move. I started working after 25 years of marriage, when my husband joined the Lion’s Club of Senkadagala Kandy, At the Lion’ Club I gave wholehearted support to my husband, by taking up many responsibilities and challenging projects, which helped me to built up my confidence to give up my role as a simple housewife. I started
“Kandy Newspaper” and took up the post of the Managing director/and Managing editor, this was stepping stone for her career and turned her into an entrepreneur. I was joined by late Lion Professor Samarasinghe who volunteered to be the Chief Editor. .
What are problems faced by women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka?
A Bureaucracy in Sri Lanka is a major obstacle for entrepreneurs to move forward. But if you have courage and determinatio,then nothing can stop you from becoming successful. There were other factors too, like country’s financial constraints, lack of modern technology, labour issues were some of the major impediments. I needed people with high enthusiasm and innovation. Sometimes at the initial stage people are not aware of the intricacies of business and attribution rate remains high.
Q Women’s entrepreneurship contributes to economic growth and social empowerment. How does the Chamber support and promote women entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka?
A Ceylon Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs, work as a service provider for all women entrepreneurs. CCWE is always willin to help to initiate projects in different provinces, through regional chambers, who are members. Lobbying with the Government and other institutions to strengthen the regional women’s Chambers and build up the capacity of women entrepreneurs are some of my goals.
We create new projects and businesses to promote Sri Lankan products abroad, one such project is in Turkiye Already the Honorary Consul in Istanbul is helping Sri Lanka to promote Sri Lankan products in Turkiye. All arrangements are made to help local women, in Turkye to open a special branch to sell thier products.
Q Going back to your early life experiences, what factors influenced your decision to be a female entrepreneur?
A The desire I had within me is to be a woman of substance. The support I received from my family, specially my eldest son, who helped me to set up an international trading company Wisewel Lanka (Pvt) Ltd., and as the Chairperson of the company, I had the opportunity to spread my business tentacles far and wide.The support I received from the family was a great encouragement to move forward in my business ventures later on in my career. Building an agile team was the biggest and the best strategy which helped me to be successful.
Q What drives/ motivates you? What is your opinion?
A Success for me is to enjoy every moment of life and look forward to a new tomorrow. I love to take up challenges. any leadership role will have as it needs you to be always inspiring and motivating,Taking responsibility of the “Kandy News” newspaper was a huge challenge. Being the first woman president of FCCISI was aso a benchmark for my career
Q Your achievements and accolades?
A To be a women, from the status of a house wife, to go beyond breaking the glass ceiling was a major achievement . I was the first women president of FCCISL, founder MD/Editor of the first regional newspaper for Sri Lanka, president of central province Women’s Chamber, senior member for several years in the Central province main chamber, chairpersons of Wisewel Lanka private limited, an international trading company, Vice President for Sri Lanka South Asia Women’s Development forum, Executive member of SAARC chambers, Vice President of SAARC women entrepreneur council, Member of the international visitor program organized by the US Embassy and many others.
Q How proud are you with your achievements?
A I am very proud by the fact that I can influence and support other entrepreneurs who needs support and encouragement. Women -owned business are increasing in the economies of all countries. Sri Lanka is no exception, they too have emerged into successful business ventures and sending out messages that cannot be dismissed . However I try to empower more women entrepreneurs to empower them by providing financial and other support by providing the challenges they face. These are my proud moments.
Q The Ceylon Chamber of women entrepreneurs and their goals?
A Ceylon Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs is a national level women’s chamber with members representing different provinces. There are also individual business women and professionals to whom we give new membership
This was concept created by me and Ayanthi Gurusinghe, founder director of Cord 360 e-commerce platform. My main goal is to promote women entrepreneurs for cross boarder trading and support regional women’s chambers to build their leadership capacity.
Q Any support from the government to support women entrepreneurs?
A Yes, we do get much support from government to develop women entrepreneurs. Product technology, financial support, skill development, creating a better bureaucratic environment for women to start thier own business and increase thier participation. I also like to attribute my success to my husband and family who have been a great pillar of strength
Q Your other interests and passion
A My goal has always to help women and give them all the support and encouragement. I am passionate about supporting fellow women to pursue thier dream of entrepreneurship.Any women entrepreneurs who needs my support can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or www.cewe.lk
Leaders and international delegates sartorial ode to india
The G20 Gala dinner hosted by the President of India, Droupadi Murmu, at the Bharat Mandapam, recently was not just a gathering of world leaders and politicians but also a sartorial spectacle that showcased a rich tapestry of fashion and cultural symbolism.
The evening commenced with President Droupadi Murmu herself setting the tone in a traditional beige saree adorned with a contrasting turquoise border. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, not one to be outdone, sported a blue V-neck striped jacket along with his white kurta pyjama set, adding a contemporary touch to his attire.
What truly captured the essence of the evening was the international dignitaries’ enthusiasm for embracing Indian fashion. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s wife, Yuko Kishida, graced the event in a beautiful green saree, perfectly complemented by a pink blouse. IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva stunned in a purple ethnic suit, complete with a golden dupatta. Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wore a lilac saree with a pearl necklace.
Going ahead we saw South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s wife, Tshepo Motsepe, opting for an Indo-western ensemble along with gajra, which is a flower garland worn by Indian women during festive occasions. Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar looked dapper in a black bandhgala suit, and his wife Kobita Jugnauth was a vision in a saree.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s wife, Akshata Murty, added a traditional touch to her modern outfit, symbolising the fusion of cultures that the evening represented.
Blue emerged as the dominant colour of political fashion at the Gala dinner night, contrasting with the usually sombre tones of power dressing. And, the saree remained a symbol of India’s cultural heritage and elegance, as all Indian female ministers and government representatives wore this traditional attire.
Reacting to the looks, netizens heaped praises on the world leaders and international delegates for going the extra mile to pay a sartorial ode to India. Social media platforms were full of compliments and heartfelt notes for them.
Lyca productions take Sri Lanka globally
by Zanita Careem
It was a star studded night when Lyca productions launched its Sri Lankan operations in the presence of Subaskaran Allirajah, British born Sri Lankan entrepreneur.
Making a significant milestone in our local entertainment industry, Lyca productions launched six movies directed by top local film directors to screen them in selected overseas markets. Lyca Group is a British Multinational Corporation offering high quality, low cost products and services to over 16 million consumers across, telecommunications entertainment, travel, healthcare, media, technology, financial services, marketing and hospitality.
“Lyca Productions, India have a strategic partnership w th EAP Films and Theatres (Pvt) Ltd.,” said Lyca Group Chairman, Mr. Allirajah Subaskaran. “The EAP Group have a long history in the film industry and we are very happy to join them in establishing a modern film production house in Sri Lanka. Lyca Productions Sri Lanka aims to bridge the gap between large resources and art appreciation and make Sri Lankan movies compete effctively with world movies in all aspects of movie production. Very soon there will be more Sri Lankans trained in modern movie-making across the sub-continent, and we will enhance our investments for future devolopment “.
The six movies will be directed by Sri Lankan Directors Priyanthi Colombage, Ashoka Handagama, Jayantha Chandrasiri, Ranjan Ramanayake and Channa Perera.
The movie that is directed by Colombage is about Sri Lankan Cricketer Lasith Malinga. Lyca Production Sri Lanka Deputy Chairman Janaki Wijeratne said Lyca Production distribution platform, they would screen the Six Sri Lankan films in the Middle East, Europe and North America.
Lyca Group Owner Allirajah Subaskaran graced the occasion by his presence and the grand launch was attended by stars from the local screen and top names from the film industry, in South India.
Many top movies in India including Ponniyin Selvan, Don, Mafia and a few others are produced by them. The company is also due to launch movies in Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu with top stars next year.
Allirajah is also the founder and Chairman of Lyca mobiles.
About LYCA Productions Sri Lanka:
Lyca Productions Sri Lanka is an extension of Lyca Productions India which is part of the Lyca Group – a British multinational corporation delivering high-quality products and services to communities across the globe. Lyca Productions is an Indian entertainment company, which was established by Allirajah Subaskaran in 2014. The production studio has been involved in the production and distribution of films made in India. Lyca aims to create, promote and release content across varying genres.
Lyca Productions has produced many top movies in India including Ponniyin Selvan: I & II, Kaththi, Enakku Innoru Peru Irukku Yaman, Ippadai Vellum, Diya, Kolamavu Kokila, Chekkasivantha Vanam, Vada Chennai, Visaranai, Dabar, Mafia, Don, Pannikutty, Naisekar Returns, Raangi, Thiruvin Kural and Theera Kaadhal, Ramsathu and Good Luck Journey. Pix by Nishan. S .Priyantha
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