Unilever helps undergraduate women in Sri Lanka build careers

Unilever Sri Lanka together with the Sri Lanka Federation of University Women launched a project ‘Building Sri Lanka’s Future Career Women’ at the auditorium of the Sri Lanka Federation of University Women on 21st January. Aimed at empowering undergraduatends women with skills that would give them the edge to compete in the job market, this six month long initiative is in line with Unilever’s commitment to develop leadership among women in Sri Lanka.

Unilever Sri Lanka Marketing Director Ramani Samarasundera addressing the students.

At the launch of ‘Building Sri Lanka’s Future Career Women’ Col. Dr. Udula Krishnaratne, The Head of the Sri Lanka Federation for University Women (SLFUW), spoke about the difficulties that women sometimes have to face in the professional arena, and the need for them to be encouraged and equipped to deal with these challenges. She also thanked Unilever for supporting the SLFUW in their cause of developing undergraduate women in Sri Lanka.

Also speaking at the event, Ms Ramani Samarasundera, Director Marketing, Unilever Sri Lanka, highlighted the inherent qualities of women that make them great leaders in the corporate world. Using the metaphor of the lotus, Ms Samarasundera said women have the same strength, perseverance, adaptability, resourcefulness, and of course the beauty that allows the lotus to survive all odds and come up and flourish despite its circumstances. “As women we are built differently from men, the most important aspect of our success is to prioritise our lives and balance our success in the professional arena, while not compromising on our ability to nurture and hold a family together.”

Ms Sandamali Perera, Director Human Resources, Unilever Sri Lanka, spoke about the three key things that make for a successful woman in the work place “it is important to have the requisite skills to be able to compete” she said “you cannot compromise on your skill set. Secondly, you need to hone and exhibit leadership skills and you need to have a profile, to showcase what is particular and special about you, that makes you different from everyone else. Any recruiter will be interested in your edge in these areas and you should not allow them to think twice. We look at all these three things when we are recruiting someone”.

Ms. Gayani De Alwis, the Customer Service Director, Unilever Sri Lanka spoke of her experiences working in historically male dominated work roles of R&D, Quality Assurance and Supply Chain and Logistics. “Attitude is the key to success” she said “if you believe you can do it then you can do it. It was not easy for me to be the first logistics manager, dealing with trucking companies etc, but you have to be confident of what is right, make sure you have equipped yourself with the right skills and knowledge and then use the appropriate method to convey your message to people. Aggression is not always the right way to get something done.”

The project aims to educate, enhance and support the development of undergraduate women from local universities on employability skills. The programme includes workshops on leadership, team building, presentation skills, communication skills, facing interviews and presenting credible curriculum vitaes.

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