Executive Committee

Kandeban Balendran


Featured by Harvard Business School as “DREAMER” among young global change-makers – renowned for his integrity and leadership, Kandeban Balendran is a business leader, entrepreneur, educator and one of the most celebrated media personalities of Sri Lanka. Over the past two decades, Balendran has been a pioneer in the world of media, marketing, and education. 


He had lived and studied in Italy, the United States, Australia, and India throughout his career before launching Academics Group in 2019. Academics Group is a cross-sector education think-tank which also owns Miami Ad School, the world’s most awarded creative school franchise for Sri Lanka and the Maldives and Ivy Future Leader Academy. Balendran sits on several advisory and private company boards. 

Aruni Goonetilleke

Vice President

Aruni Goonetilleke is a financial services expert with over 25 years of experience in regional financial markets, currently the Hatton National Bank Chairperson. She has extensive experience in enterprise risk management, credit, audit, and business origination and has held leadership positions in local and international banks. 


Her last role was Head of Corporate Banking at People’s Bank. Immediately prior to that, she held several leadership and transformational roles at Standard Chartered Bank Singapore and Sri Lanka. She is a Non-Executive Director of several listed companies and financial institutions in Sri Lanka.

Sheran Fernando


Sheran Fernando is a Mobility Specialist with multi-faceted industry experience including 20 years with Jaguar Land Rover as dealer principal in Sri Lanka. He has worked with the Government, NGO’s, PLC’s and as an entrepreneur. Apart from the Automotive Industry, Sheran has experience in Plantation, Agriculture, Finance, Manufacturing and Engineering. He has successfully restructured a wide range of corporate entities. Sheran Fernando currently works as a Mobility Consultant, and an Independent Director.

Niral Kadawatharatchie


Logistics and Supply Chain Management is his passion. People management and entrepreneurship are a set of special skills that Niral have developed over the years and continue to foster. His commitment to develop and maintain strong business relationships coupled with exemplary business ethics have been the key to my success. In facing challenges of traditional air and sea freight, he embarked on new services such as Supply Chain Consultancy and high-end domestic logistics solutions for multinational companies.

Suranga Herath


Suranga Herath is CEO of English Tea Shop; a unique organic tea business, based out of a small organic farming platform. Suranga is a pioneer of sustainability best practices and has developed a wide range of initiatives designed to improve the livelihoods of communities in their value chain. He is an advocate of making English Tea Shop a “Business of Business People” through their employee empowerment program, namely the “Big-Game”. 

Asanka De Mel

Asanka De Mell


Asanka de Mel is a graduate from Harvard Kennedy School of Government with MPA. He’s the founder of LOVI Ceylon, a clothing brand committed to reimaging Sri Lankan identity clothing for a new generation. Prior to that Asanka spent 20+ years in the US software industry in Silicon Valley and NYC. He brings startups, technology, and public policy expertise to the club. 

Hiran Embuldeniya


Hiran has been working on the Sri Lankan capital markets over the past 10 years. He is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Ironwood Capital Partners, an impact-oriented investment firm in Sri Lanka. Hiran sits on several advisory boards including the South Asia Alumni Advisory Board of the Harvard Business School, the Economic Policy Committee of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and several private company Boards. 


Prior to moving to Sri Lanka, Hiran worked within the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs and within the Financial Institutions Practice at McKinsey and Company over a period of 10 years. 

Sarani Jayawardena

Non-Executive Member

Sarani is a policy and program strategist with experience in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. She studied Government at Harvard College and has a MSc in Evidence-based Policy and Program Evaluation from the University of Oxford. Sarani works with the MAS Foundation for Change to build partnerships with innovators, implementers, and donors tackling ocean pollution, biodiversity loss, and other social and environmental challenges. 

Karunaweera Nadira

Nadira Karunaweera

Non-Executive Member

Nadira is Professor and Chair, Head of Department, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Nadira is a medical graduate who started research in the field of malaria in 1989 when she joined University of Colombo as a lecturer. The title of her PhD thesis was ‘clinical disease and immunity in Plasmodium vivax malaria’.

Nadira was a Radcliffe Institute Fellow, Harvard University in 2005/2006 during which time she studied genetic diversity of P.vivax parasites in the laboratory of Dyann Wirth at the School of Public Health, Harvard University where she continues to hold the position of visiting scientist.