We dive into the world of business in Sri Lanka in search for the story of one of the pioneers in Sri Lankan business foundations. The name everyone thinks of when they hear the word Wijewardana. The origin story of Upali Wijewardana. We sat down with Mr. Dammika Artygala, nephew of Mr. Upali Wijewardana to unwind the story of Mr. Upali Wijewardana.

Upali Wijewardene

A visionary who transformed Sri Lanka’s business landscape, leaving a timeless legacy.

In the dynamic world of Sri Lanka’s business landscape during the 1970s and 80s, one name shone brighter than the rest—Upali Wijewardene. Born into wealth, Wijewardene became a legendary gure, leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s economic development. Though his life was tragically cut short in a plane crash in 1983, his legacy as one of Sri Lanka’s most inuential businessmen lives on.

Wijewardene’s entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen propelled him to establish multiple successful ventures. One of his most remarkable achievements was the creation of Air Lanka, now known as Sri Lankan Airlines. In a matter of years, Air Lanka soared to become one of the region’s leading airlines. Wijewardene’s bold and unconventional approach to business set him apart from his peers, fearlessly taking risks that others shied away from.

Beyond the aviation industry, Wijewardene’s inuence extended to nance, real estate, and manufacturing. His diverse business portfolio showcased his ability to adapt and thrive in various sectors. Colleagues and acquaintances remember him as a determined workaholic, someone who epitomised the separation of personal and professional realms. Dhammika Artygalal, president of the Sri Lankan Automobile Association, only recently revealed that he is Upali Wijewardene’s nephew. Growing up, Dhammika witnessed his uncle’s relentless dedication, which instilled in him the value of a strong work ethic.

Dhammika recalls his uncle’s wise words,

This mantra emphasised the importance of education and continuous learning, showcasing Wijewardene’s unwavering belief in the power of

knowledge. He believed that success could be eeting, but knowledge would endure.

Upali Wijewardene will forever be remembered for his contributions, his fearless spirit, and the enduring lessons he imparted to future generations of entrepreneurs. His story serves as a testament to the power of determination, knowledge, and unwavering commitment to one’s dreams.

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