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Promoting sustainable business: a tale of two Australia Awards alumni

Posted: 28 September 2023

Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Alumni, Impact,

The Australia Awards Regional Alumni Workshop in 2022 brought alumni from across South Asia and Mongolia to Kathmandu with the aim of building their changemaking skills and fostering collaboration. Two of these alumni, Dr Madura Thivanka Pathirana and Jyotilakha Chakma, met at the workshop and shared their ideas with each other. Little did they know that this encounter would lead to an enduring partnership committed to sustainable development.

Both Thivanka and Jyotilakha share the prestigious title of Australia Awards alumni, a network renowned for its dedication to positive change and sustainable growth. Their connection during the Regional Alumni Workshop in Nepal ignited a friendship founded on their shared vision for a more sustainable future.

Thivanka (centre) and Jyotilakha (right) attending the Regional Alumni Workshop 2022 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Today, this dynamic duo has not only solidified their friendship but has also pursued joint projects to spread sustainable business practices. Their collaborative effort bore fruit in the form of a research poster, which they jointly published and presented at the International Research Symposium for Sustainable Business (IRSSB) 2023.

IRSSB 2023, organised by Edith Cowan University Sri Lanka, marked a momentous occasion for both Thivanka and Jyotilakha. Thivanka, a senior lecturer at ECU Sri Lanka and co-chair of the symposium, used this platform to share their research on the Bangladeshi apparel manufacturing sector. This research was the culmination of their dedication to sustainable business practices and the insights and support generously provided by Jyotilakha.

Jyotilakha and Thivanka (third row from bottom) with other participants in the 2022 Regional Alumni Workshop

The research poster, displayed during the symposium on 15 September, garnered the attention of numerous corporate representatives, Sri Lankan undergraduates and postgraduate students. Its focus on the Bangladeshi apparel sector highlighted the critical need for sustainable practices in one of the world’s largest industries.

The research poster displayed during IRSSB 2023.

Their journey of collaboration began at the Regional Alumni Workshop which proved to be a transformative experience, not just in fostering connections but also in creating opportunities for meaningful change. For Thivanka and Jyotilakha, it was the starting point for a shared mission to promote sustainability in the business world, helping to connect Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Thivanka said, ‘Events involving alumni have the potential to kindle impactful collaborations that go beyond geographical boundaries, inspiring beneficial transformations. We are glad to share our experience and how a common commitment to sustainability and shared values can contribute to a more improved world through partnerships, one step at a time.’

Thivanka completed an Australia Awards Short Course on Sustainable Tourism Development in 2020 and Jyotilakha completed a Master of Education at Flinders University in 2020.

Thivanka speaking at the Regional Alumni Workshop 2022 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Their story serves as a testament to the power of international and regional alumni networks. It showcases how shared values and building networks can lead to impactful collaborations, and how the pursuit of sustainable development knows no borders. Dr Madura Thivanka and Jyotilakha Chakma exemplify the spirit of Australia Awards alumni – driven, visionary and committed to making the world a better place one partnership at a time. Their journey has just begun, and the world of sustainable business is sure to benefit from their continued dedication and collaboration.