7 January 2019 | Sri Lanka

On the 10th of December 2018, members and friends of Women in Logistics and Transport Sri Lanka came together to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the ‘Ignite’ mentoring programme.

Ignite is a program which provides a platform for both mentors and mentees to form a mentoring relationship under a well-structured procedure. Mentors donate their time and effort to unearthing talented individual, helping them to develop soft and hard skills, and realise their full potential.

The mentee selection is carried out through an application process. Undergraduates of the top Sri Lankan and foreign universities offering Transport, Logistics and Supply Chain degrees, as well as young professionals are all encouraged to apply. Successful candidates are then paired with a suitable mentor in line with their needs and career aspirations.

Maersk Lanka Ltd. Country Manager Zeeshan Mukhi graced the event as the Chief Guest of Ignite 2018 and in his address congratulated WiLAT SL for striving towards striking a balance in this industry. Maersk Lanka partnered with WiLAT SL on their BacktoWork program for women and is recognised for their commitment towards the empowerment of women in the industry.

In his address, Chief Guest Mr Zeeshan Mukhi, Country Manager for Maersk Lanka Ltd, congratulated WiLAT SL for their great work towards a more balanced and inclusive industry. Maersk Lanka is a strong supporter of WiLAT, and recognised for its commitment to female empowerment in local industry, as evidenced by the BacktoWork scheme created in partnership with WiLAT.

Opening the ceremony, Anoma Ranasinghe, Vice Chairperson of WiLAT Sri Lanka and the Project Chairperson of Ignite 2018/2019, explained the objective of the Ignite mentoring program, and described the journey so far. She acknowledged endeavours of Gayani de Alwis, Chairperson of CILT Sri Lanka in launching the “Ignite” mentoring programme, which has been adopted globally by WiLAT.

Keynote speaker of the event, Gihan Cooray, Group Finance Director of John Keells Holdings, used examples from his own career journey, and shared his thoughts on “Igniting a Trailblazing Career”. He articulated the importance of emotional intelligence, the need to harness courage and boldness to take up projects and challenges, and the need to be patient for the right opportunities.

The speech was followed by a panel discussion and a Q & A session moderated by Dhashma Karunaratne, Chairperson of WiLAT Sri Lanka, who has been recognised by WiLAT Global for her commitment towards mentorship. Dhashma deliberated stating that there are 1.3 billion youth today and one billion of them live in the developing world. Echoing the great Nelson Mandela, she said the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and WiLAT is committed towards making a positive impact on this demographic. She further expressed encouragement at the commitment of good corporate citizens such as National Trust Bank and FriMi, who are supporting the transformational journey of youth to become impactful leaders through the IGNITE program.

Panellists were Dr Buddhima Subasinghe, Head of the Department of Computer Science at NIBM, Shehara de Silva, Director Partnerships of YouLead, Anushka Weeraratne, CEO at Lanka Marine Services, Dr Namali Sirisoma, Dean of the Faculty of Management of General Sir John Kotalawela Defence University, and the keynote speaker Gihan Cooray.

The panel shared their individual stories of how different mentors guided them along their career journeys, and provided the audience with valuable insights of how important mentoring relationships could be for a professional during various stages of their careers.

A social media campaign was held among the mentees of “Ignite” 2017 to create an impactful video about the experience they gained with their mentors over the past year. The winning clips were shared with the audience. The winners were Indeewari Chandrasekera, Thisuri Udara and Harshani Edirisinghe, whilst Kaushani Perera was a nominee.

WiLAT is the women’s body of the Charted Institute of Logistics and Transport and has grown from strength to strength since its formation in 2013. Globally WiLAT is present in 18 countries with over 1600 members in four continents. Mentorship is one of the key strategic thrusts of WiLAT globally, and the Ignite programme, now adopted globally by WiLAT is a key part of this strategy.

CILT is the membership organisation of choice for logistics and transport professionals globally. Founded in 1919 by a group of like-minded industry professionals, the Institute today has grown to encompass more than 35,000 members in 35 countries. With a century of experience, and a mission to increase standards, nurture talent and deliver world-class education, CILT gives individuals and organisations access to the tools, the knowledge and the connections vital to success in the logistics and transport industry.