Otara Gunewardene – Chief Executive Officer of
ODEL, Sri Lanka’s premier department store – was awarded the
prestigious "Retail Leadership Award" at the recently held Asia
Retail Congress in India. The congress – one of Asia’s most
renowned platforms to promote world-class retail practices –
brings together, at a forum, the company chairs, presidents and
CEOs from leading international and national retailers.
The congress is widely reputed to be a stage for
those that believe in making a change in the world retail
sector. Held in Mumbai, this year’s congress focused on the
theme of "Strategies and Solutions for Business Innovation and
Transformation". Their decision to bestow the esteemed "Retail
Leadership Award" to Sri Lanka’s most prominent and renowned
business woman, highlights Ms Gunewardene’s illustrious career
in the retail sector, while also recognises the immense growth
that ODEL has seen since its inception as a one store operation.
Beginning her career just over 15 years ago, Ms
Gunewardene has swiftly become one of the country’s most
celebrated business personalities. Her success story in building
the ODEL brand as a fashion empire has become an inspirational
story for many budding retail entrepreneurs. Throughout her
career, she has amassed a number of awards and accolades –
including the "Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the Year" award, the "SAARC
Woman of Achievement" award, the "Zonta Woman of Achievement"
award as well as the title of the Jaycees’ "Most Outstanding
Speaking about the award from the Asia Retail
Congress 2008, Ms Gunewardene expressed that it was an honour to
receive this prestigious award from such an esteemed panel of
business personalities. She added, "It is not only a significant
achievement for myself, but also to those who have put in so
much hard work and dedication to make ODEL not just a fashion
brand, but a Sri Lankan icon as well."
Through ODEL, Ms Gunewardene has also championed
a number of environmental and charity causes. She has been
actively involved in the building of houses for the victims of
the Tsunami, the planting of trees and also the cleaning of the
Bundala National Park.
Additionally, her personal CSR initiative, -
‘EMBARK’ – is a highly successful series of programmes that aims
to control the country’s stray dog population, as well as to
prevent cruelty to animals under the stringent guidelines set by
the World Health Organisation.