An Echelon Media Company
Monday February 6th, 2023

Best Workplaces for Women in Sri Lanka: The Role Models of AIA Insurance

L-R Yohani Felsinger: Head – Rewards and Recognition AIA Insurance, Anandi Jayawardena: Head – Brand and Communications AIA Insurance, Samanthi Sandya: Distribution Unit Head – Matale AIA Insurance

Global insurance giant AIA was recognized as one of the Top-15 Best Workplaces for Women in Sri Lanka 2022 by Great Place to Work Sri Lanka. AIA’s Anandi Jayawardena, Yohani Felsinger and Samanthi Sandya tell us why the company is a great workplace for women.


Anandi Jayawardena: Head – Brand and Communications AIA Insurance

What about your current role at AIA excites you the most? What do you think is your higher purpose?

AIA’s brand purpose is to help people live healthier, longer, better lives, and this permeates everything we do as a company. We were pioneers in moving life insurance away from the traditionally austere you-die-we-pay model to a more positive and vibrant one that is all about helping people to live life to the fullest with their loved ones. Being a part of a team that brings this mission to life is indeed most exciting as we constantly look for ways to make a meaningful difference to our customers, community, and country. This purpose is also deeply embedded in our workplace culture, and employees are encouraged to live life to the fullest with their families. We foster a collaborative, transparent and inclusive working environment on the firm belief that caring for oneself and our family helps us to be our best at work.

AIA was the first Employers’ Federation of Ceylon member to implement a comprehensive maternity benefit scheme for female employees, in the country, with a host of unique benefits that resulted in 100% of women returning to work after maternity leave. Having returned to work after maternity leave myself, I do appreciate the flexibility, support and reassurance extended to me by AIA, enabling me to be my best at work and home. My purpose aligns with the AIA objectives of encouraging people to stay healthy and happy and make the most of life by embracing the challenge of balancing home and work and enjoying the blessings of both worlds.

As a workplace leader and mentor, how are you influencing and inspiring other women to grow and thrive in their careers at AIA?

Ours is a culture based on meritocracy, so regardless of gender, if you do your best and excel in your work, you can most certainly have a thriving career at AIA. We have built a safe working environment on the pillars of equal opportunities and well-being, fostering a close-knit community around the values of diversity and inclusion. Furthermore, we are committed to continuously developing a workplace culture in which people can aspire to achieve great things and feel empowered to do things differently.


Yohani Felsinger: Head – Rewards and Recognition AIA Insurance

As an HR leader, how do you align diverse expectations of employees with the objectives of AIA without compromise?

As we all know, investing in employees’ growth is crucial to the success of the company. However, employee expectations of growth differ from each other for many reasons. Gender can indeed influence expectations in any workplace. However, at AIA, we not only ensure to meet all employee expectations but create expectation alignments within our company. As we function with a diversified workforce, we proactively seek out any expectation gaps at all levels and bridge those gaps through various HR initiatives aiming to elevate employee experiences. The reality is also companies need to be intentional when it comes to learning and development programmes. All HR initiatives need to be relevant to our employees which allows them to grow in ways that truly impact their job performance.

What would be that one piece of advice you would give young women aspiring to unleash their potential and become leaders?

I believe women rise in their careers when they lean in and stay true to themselves. Unleashing your potential starts with you therefore always remember to believe in yourself. Do not underestimate your ability and what you could achieve, step outside your comfort zone, and do not be afraid to take risks. You have unlimited potential, so act now to unleash your best self.


Samanthi Sandya: Distribution Unit Head – Matale AIA Insurance

Reflecting on your career journey, experiences, struggles and successes, what makes AIA a Great Workplace for Women in Sri Lanka?

I began my career in the insurance industry at the age of 20, right after school. I had harboured apprehensions and anxieties, but those quickly faded away thanks to the friendly work environment, sense of protection, guidance from the management and empowering training programmes that made me feel complete and confident about myself.

Today, 22 years later, I lead the AIA Matale Branch by helping others build their careers and live the AIA culture. I am fortunate and grateful to AIA and the management for embracing me with affection and giving me every opportunity to grow and build a successful career and challenge the stereotypes about women at work.

Insurance is a male-dominated industry. What made you successful, and what are you doing to break perceptions and shatter glass ceilings?

Amidst the challenges as a woman in a male-dominated industry, I diligently pursued my career objectives and never hesitated to exert myself and be heard. I was fortunate that AIA provided the environment that empowered me to grow and thrive as a leader, constantly encouraging me to be bold, enterprising, and proactive by recognizing and rewarding my successes, including the pinnacle CEO’s Special Award at the AIA Annual Conference 2021. I have experienced how AIA empowers people to be the best they can be irrespective of gender, race, or religion.