No Straight Line: Nilanthi Wijegunawardena

No Straight Line: Nilanthi Wijegunawardena

Careers don’t always follow an obvious path, and there are many routes to success. In the latest instalment of our No Straight Line series, we’re talking to our Global Lead for Environment, Sustainability and Compliance, Nilanthi Wiijegunawardena.

Nilanthi joined us over 20 years ago, after working for five years in textile manufacturing and earning a Bsc and Graduateship in Chemistry from the Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon. She later completed her MBA at Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK.

We spoke to her about what she’s learned from her different roles at Stretchline and how they’ve shaped what she’s doing now.

What job did you initially set out to do?

I joined Stretchline initially in 2000 as a Manager for Quality Assurance. My key responsibilities were managing product quality by implementing standardised quality and processes across the plant. My role shifted when I was appointed to lead global quality management alongside social and ethical compliance in 2001.

What role do you currently do?

In my current role, I lead our Environment Sustainability and Compliance functions at Stretchline’s plants globally, developing strategies and policies to meet our sustainability and compliance goals across all our sites, wherever they are.

How does your role differ from what you used to do?

Now I have more exposure to global teams and work with global leaders in sustainability. My focus is now on making sure that we are a performance-driven company. My previous role focused on compliance with retailer product specifications and social and ethical standards. So, my role differs significantly from my job over 20 years ago.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

You have everything you need for success already. First, be target-orientated and don’t shy away from taking up new challenges – be open and take every opportunity that comes your way. Second, focus on building relationships both internally and externally. Third, earn the trust of your team and be a leader in quality assurance management. And, of course, last – but not least – multi-tasking is the key to success.

What advice would you give your future self?

Be passionate about what you do. A genuine passion for what you do will continue to lead you on the path forward. Be responsible for the environment and create the mindset and culture in everyone to help drive sustainability and be eco-conscious in the business.

Nilanthi’s story shows that passion for your role and a willingness to take on opportunities and challenges can lead to outstanding achievements. Thanks to driven people like her, Stretchline can continue in their drive to move the industry forward.

Like Nilanthi’s story? Find out how other talented people at Stretchline took their not-so-straight line to career success.

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