Kshanika Ratnayaka

In conversation with Ashwini Vethakan


April 1967

Alma mater
Ladies’ College

Family members
My husband (Kavan), our two sons (Krishen and Kavisha) and our tomcat (Jelly Bean) 

Wanted to be
I thought my father wanted me to be a doctor so I studied in the science stream; others thought I should do law since I was outspoken and always fighting for some cause or against an injustice

A Director and the CEO of Great Place To Work – Sri Lanka

A Subaru Forester – and before that, a Honda Civic (I love both vehicles)

A moment you would like to go back to
My schooldays – when I was on the sports field for at least four hours a day without a care in the world

Best advice received
Find your power

Little known facts about you
I was in boarding school from age of four to 18, lived on my own since turning 21 and my parents passed away before I was married at the age of 27

The impact of this
I became fiercely independent at a young age and made most of my life decisions on my own


Happy place
My home or estate, at a live game, being out and about on an adventure such as a hike or on vacation

Hiking, trekking, swimming and playing tennis

Likes to watch
Up until the onset of the pandemic, I only watched endless hours of sports – with the exceptions being Ally McBeal and Sex and the City

How this has changed
Now that I’ve discovered Netflix – and there’s also Virgin River and Chesapeake Shores

Saddened when
Justice does not prevail

Most unforgettable event
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London – that was the last time all four of us and my brother-in-law took an overseas vacation together as a family

Why is that?
The boys’ schedules became so busy after that… these days, we have only one family member or the other because the two are rarely available together at most times

Success to you is
When you’re happy with who you are and what you have

Purpose in life
To get the best out of myself and those I have influence over

Items on your bucket list for the next six months
To sight the sloth bear in one of our parks, be at the Wimbledon tennis championship and explore undiscovered territory in Sri Lanka

Items on the bucket list following retirement
Go on a Mediterranean cruise, experience the northern lights and join an Orient Express railway expedition


Mantra to unwind
Listening to music, watching sports or ‘The Voice’ online and doing a puzzle

Most hated chore
Doing my expense accounts or claims

Playing or watching sports, being outdoors in nature and solving puzzles – such as jigsaws, sudoku, word games and trivia

Three must-haves
Trainers, sunglasses and a garden or the outdoors

Desired qualities in a friend
Being trustworthy, nonjudgmental and low maintenance

Do you consider yourself a romantic?

The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you
That’s a secret! 

Three things you’d like to have
A dog, fire pit (to sit round and toast marshmallows) and hot tub

Likely retirement destination
The estate in Deniyaya – because I love the weather and connection to nature


Days of the week
Saturday, Wednesday and Friday

Orange, purple and blue

Italian, Japanese and Thai

Red Bull, mango or passion fruit juice and thambili

Places to eat
Nihonbashi, Royal Thai and Il Ponte

Chill out spots
The estate in Deniyaya where the veranda overlooks the garden and by the waters of a pool, the sea or a lake

Local holiday destinations
Southern coast from Galle to Tangalle, wildlife parks and Knuckles Mountain Range

Overseas holiday destinations
Tuscany, the Greek islands and the UK

Jack Nicholson, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Matt Damon

Spy flicks, thrillers and romcoms

Adele, Freddie Mercury and Mozart

Quote from a movie
“Carpe diem! Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary!” – Dead Poets Society

That’s how I’d like my boys to live

Favourite civil servant and why
Deshamanya Bradman Weerakoon – he worked with nine heads of state for more than five decades


The first thing you need after waking up is…
A cup of tea

The first thing you notice when meeting someone is…
His or her smile

Recently laughed out loud when…
They played ‘My Way’ on former President Donald Trump’s departure from the White House

You know it’s going to be a bad day when…
The phone is dead when you wake up

You’re challenged by…

Describe your day off
Sleep in, read the news while enjoying a cup of tea, chat with friends and cousins on the phone, watch sports, listen to music, read, go outdoors and do something physical, and either cook or go out for a meal with the family, and end the day with a good movie

Children are…
The present and future – and mine are my world

Colombo in two words
Hot and humid

Sri Lanka in a few words
A resplendent isle waiting to be explored


Memory skills on a scale of zero to 10

Computer capability in one word

Most productive in the morning, noon or night

A leader or follower by nature

Work out preferences

Cook or foodie

Quality or quantity

The glass is half full or half empty
Half full

Work or play after retirement
Play – I have worked hard for too long already

The most delightful word you can think of
Love – it makes the world a better place

Do you consider yourself to be a student or teacher?

Most used words or phrases
Get out of your comfort zone’ and ‘focus’

Role model
Kolitha Ratnayaka

Yourself in three words
Passionate, committed and driven

Motto in life
Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Kshanika is a Director and the CEO of Great Place To Work, Sri Lanka