Paul Ash, FCMA, CGMA, elected as 88th President of The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and 6th Chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

June 7, 2021 at 4:54 PM

Paul Ash, FCMA, CGMA has been elected as the 88th President of The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA), the world’s largest professional body of management accountants, and the 6th Chair of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the Association) – the combined strength of the American Institute of CPA and CIMA, His leadership will be supported by Sri Lankan, Melanie Kanaka FCMA, CGMA, who became Deputy President following her election at CIMA’s Annual General Meeting held on 3rd June.

Sri Lanka hosts the largest concentration of Chartered Global Management Accountants (CGMAs) outside of the UK and USA, the most sought-after finance and business designation awarded by the Association. The Association represents 696,000 members, students and engaged professionals in management and public accounting across 192 countries and territories.

Sri Lankan nationals also feature strongly in supporting the global governance of CIMA and the Association. There are four Sri Lankans who sit on CIMA’s governing Council and three Sri Lankans represented on the Association’s Middle East, South Asia and North Africa (MESANA) Regional Advisory Panel. See below: 

  • Paul Ash, FCMA, CGMA – CIMA President and Chair Association of International Certified Professional Accountants
  • Melanie Janine Kanaka, FCMA, CGMA – CIMA Deputy President
  • Suresh R. I. Perera FCMA, CGMA – CIMA Council Member
  • Manohari Abeyesekera, FCMA, CGMA – CIMA Council Member
  • Channa Gunawardana, FCMA, CGMA – CIMA Council Member
  • Rifka Ziyard, FCMA, CGMA – CIMA Council Member
  • Mahesha Amarasuriya, FCMA, CGMA – Association MESANA RAP Member
  • Manohara S. Tillakawardana, FCMA, CGMA – Association MESANA RAP Member
  • Akila Gunarathna, ACMA, CGMA – Association MESANA RAP Member

Paul first volunteered with CIMA during the mid-1980s and was a founder member of the CIMA City Interest Group. In 2013, he was elected to CIMA Council and was a member of the inaugural governing Board of the Association. He has served on CIMA’s Membership, Global Markets and Executive Committees and was Vice Chairman of the CIMA Benevolent Fund Committee. Paul also served as Chairman of the Association’s Lifelong Learning Committee, where he helped lead the changes required to drive CIMA’s syllabus into the digital age.

Paul has a degree in economics from the University of Leicester and began his career in the industrial manufacturing sector. He then moved into the financial services sector and joined the London Stock Exchange in 1980 as a Management Accountant. He worked his way up to become Chief Accountant and led the changes that were necessary to the Exchange’s reporting systems during the deregulation of the financial securities markets in 1986.

Following a 12-year career in the City, Paul returned to industry and commerce undertaking corporate finance roles with British Gas plc and Greenergy International Limited, before joining Institute for International Research (IIR) as

Group Finance Director in 1996. More recently Paul has founded, financed, and developed several businesses in the energy, media, and property services sectors. His energy businesses provide power and heat to their customers in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors, using the latest technologies to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and carbon emissions.


Melanie Janine Kanaka, FCMA, CGMA – CIMA Deputy President

Melanie is a Fulbright Scholar and holds an MBA specialising in international finance and corporate strategy from the Goizuetta Business School of Emory University USA. Admitted to CIMA fellowship in 2000 she is an accredited SAP consultant with a 30-year career in accounting, finance, treasury, SAP, strategy and general management. She has a 1st class B.Com (Hons) degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka, and is a distinguished alumna of Bishop’s College, Colombo.

Melanie has extensive experience in corporate finance, SAP and development banking across the USA, Germany and South Asia. Her corporate finance roles were with Bellsouth (USA), Sri Lankan Conglomerates – Hayleys Group and MAS Holdings, and she was a senior SAP consultant at Rapier Consulting.  Melanie is the head of finance and administration at the World Bank in Sri Lanka and Maldives. She is the chair of the audit committee of the Sri Lanka Family Planning Association, and a non-executive director on their national council.  She also served for a two-year term on the audit committee of the International Planned Parenthood Federation headquartered in London.

Melanie has a long and committed association with CIMA with her passion being member engagement and the development of the CIMA family for close to three decades. She has chaired numerous CIMA committees in Sri Lanka, led many innovative initiatives, served on the divisional council for nine years, board for five years, and was a former CIMA Sri Lanka divisional vice president. Melanie was the first Sri Lankan and non-UK assessor invited to the CIMA global membership board in 2009 and has been a membership assessor since 2008. In 2013 she was elected to CIMA council from South Asia and was subsequently co-opted in 2017. She has served on a number of the Institute’s policy committees of technical, lifelong learning, member services, membership and in 2015 was elected to CIMA’s appointment committee as a member without portfolio.  Melanie has chaired two of CIMA’s policy committees namely the membership committee and the Institute’s Professional Standards and Conduct Committee.

Melanie has served on a few international boards diverting her energies on the furtherance of the accounting profession. She was invited to be a director on the Association Board and the Management Accounting board in July 2018. She subsequently served on the Public Accounting Board and holds a seat on the AICPA Council and continues to serve on the Association Board.  She is also a former Sri Lanka national swimmer, who had the rare distinction of having officiated at the centennial Olympic games in Atlanta. USA.


Suresh R. I. Perera FCMA, CGMA, Council Member

Suresh is the Principal, Tax & Regulatory, at KPMG in Sri Lanka and is a multidisciplinary professional with over 20 years of experience in taxation, accounting and legal aspects. He is a member of the KPMG Middle East & South Asia (MESA) Tax Steering Committee. He is also an Attorney-at-Law (LLB) – Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, a Bachelor of Law (Law College of Sri Lanka), Notary Public and Commissioner for Oaths,

Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (FCMA), and a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA).

He is currently part of the CIMA Global Council and the Membership Committee and at ICASL, a member of the Accounting Standards Committee. At the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, he is the Chair of the Tax Committee, and a member of the Council and the Finance Committee. He is a Forum member of OPA Sri Lanka, a member of the International Fiscal Association, an Excom member of the Corporate Lawyers Association, Assistant Treasurer at the Law Faculty Alumni Association and the KPMG representative at the Association of Alternate Financial Institutions.

He also served in the CIMA Sri Lanka Board for 2 years (2015 & 2016). He is a former Member of The Association’s Middle East South Asia and North Africa (MESANA) Board during the years 2017/18 and 2018/19.  He has also functioned as the Treasurer and the Assistant Treasurer of the OPA and an Executive Committee Member of the Alumni Association of University of Colombo. He is a highly experienced Tax Lecturer, Public Speaker and an author of many press articles. Suresh specializes in financial services tax including Islamic Finance and has advised a number of banking and financial services institutions in addressing taxation related concerns covering areas of structuring of banking products, taxation relating to transactions, taxation in relation to acquisitions and in meeting regulatory requirements.


Manohari Abeyesekera, FCMA, CGMA – Council Member

Manohari currently serves as a Director /Chair Audit Committee at The National Savings Bank. Previously, she served at Hayleys Group in multiple leadership roles in an 18-year career, as Head of Strategic Business Development and Director in Hayleys Group subsidiaries namely Hayleys Group Services (Pvt.) Ltd. and Fentons Limited. She was involved in acquisitions exceeding US$ 200Mn and was the focal point of contact with Investors, Chambers of Commerce and Embassies.  An Alumna of KPMG, she is a Fellow Member of CIMA and ICASL.  She has a B.Sc. in Biology (1st Class) and an MBA from University of Colombo and was also a Prize-winner at CIMA Finals. She also won the CIMA Young Star (Silver) Award in 2004.

Manohari has served CIMA over a decade in various roles. Elected to the CIMA Sri Lanka Board for two terms 2012-2014 and 2015-2017, she also served in the MESANA Board in 2017. She was the Chair of the CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit 2017. She was the Chair of CIMA Sri Lanka Country Network Panel 2019 and represented CIMA at OPA Sri Lanka. Manohari is a Member of the CIMA Global Member Engagement Committee (GMEC) 2020/2021.

She was the President of MBA Alumni Association, University of Colombo and is also a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Colombo MBA program. In 2019, Manohari was selected for the US State Department Fortune Mentoring Program. She is an Alumnus of the USA International Visitor Leadership Program. She received a scholarship from AOTS Japan and had Executive education in Europe & Asia. Manohari has received awards for Women Leadership in Sri Lanka, India & Bangladesh. Manohari is a Toastmaster and a journalist to Daily FT, CIMA Edge etc. She was featured in CIMA Insight “Breaking the glass ceiling in Sri Lanka”. Manohari is married and has a 15-year-old daughter.


Channa Gunawardana, FCMA, CGMA – Council Member

 Currently the Chief Executive Officer of Dankotuwa Porcelain PLC, Channa previously worked in the apparel manufacturing sector covering 3 countries, prior to which he worked in the consultancy business.

His extensive experience in overseas operations includes time as the Country Manager of Ernst & Young – Maldives and with apparel operations in Bangladesh as the Chief Financial Officer. Channa was instrumental in setting up one of the pioneering manufacturing plants in Africa, an emerging market in 2015. Further, Channa served the multi-national apparel manufacturer, Hirdramani Group for 12 years and served in the capacity of Chief Operating Officer of a SBU towards the end of his stay there. As COO, he overlooked the operations of 10 manufacturing plants for leading buyers and was also responsible for the sales and marketing of a particular product category. Subsequent to his stay at Hirdramani and prior to joining Dankotuwa Porcelain PLC he worked for Aitken Spence Garments Ltd in the capacity of CEO/Director. 

Channa is a Fellow of the CIMA and ICASL and has an MBA from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He holds a First-Class degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. He is presently reading for his PhD with the Management and Science University, Malaysia. During his spare time Channa conducts leadership programs for youth, titled “Your Life is Your Life” and had extended the same to many young professionals around the world.


Rifka Ziyard, FCMA, CGMA – Council Member

Rifka is currently the Director – Tax and Regulatory at KPMG and is the immediate past Chair of the CIMA Sri Lanka Country Network Panel. She was a member of the Association MESANA Regional Advisory Panel for 2019/20. She was the Chair of the CIMA Member Development Committee and CIMA Business Leaders’ Summit Committee in 2018 and 2019.

Rifka holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Colombo. She is also a fellow member of CIMA and the Sri Lanka Institute of Taxation. She is the Secretary of the Association of Alternate Financial Institutions (AAFI).

She represented CIMA as a Forum member of OPA Sri Lanka and is the KPMG nominee at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICCSL). She is a member of the MBA Alumni Association, University of Colombo. She is a Visiting Faculty Member for MBA (Taxation) at PIM, University of Sri Jayewardenepura. She is a presenter/moderator at many public forums including International forums such as the KPMG MESA regional tax conference. She is also a lecturer for CPD events for CIMA and Chartered Tax Advisor Course. She is also a frequent contributor to newspapers on the subject of finance and tax. 


Mahesha Amarasuriya, FCMA, CGMA – Association MESANA RAP Member

Mahesha is the AGM Card Services and Corporate Management Member of Cargills Bank and is a Fellow Member of CIMA and a CGMA. She holds a BA (Hons) Degree from the University of Colombo and a MBA from the Postgraduate Institute of Management. She counts over 15 years of experience in Banking and Finance covering Corporate, Retail, Private Banking and Cards and Electronic Payments.

 She served on the CIMA Sri Lanka Board from 2012 to 2016 and was the elected Vice Chair of the Board in 2016. She was the Chair of the CIMA Sri Lanka Country Network Panel in 2018. She has served on the MESANA Regional Board in 2017 and has been serving on the MESANA Regional Advisory Panel since 2020.  She was the Gold Winner of the Young CIMA Star Award in 2006.




Manohara S. Tillakawardana, FCMA, CGMA – Association MESANA RAP Member

An accomplished professional with over thirty years post qualifying exposure in Public and Mercantile Sector, his key areas of expertise are known to be Financial Management, Corporate and Strategic Planning, Diagnostic Studies, Project Feasibility Studies and Appraisals, Internal Auditing, Corporate Performance Appraisal, Marketing Research, Business Accounting, Mergers & Acquisitions and Market Surveys.

Manohara is a Fellow Member of CIMA and a CGMA. He holds a MBA and a MA in Financial Economics from the University of Colombo, Diploma in Marketing from CIM, UK and a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing Management from PIM, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.  He is also a Fellow Member of Certified Practicing Accountants of Australia, Member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Marketing, Chartered Institute of Marketing of UK and a Member of the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) of USA.  A member of two Audit Committees of private sector institutions and a non-executive director of five companies, Manohara has a long and committed association with CIMA. His passion had been member engagement and development of the CIMA fraternity for close to a decade – contributing to membership conversion workshops and mentoring the newcomers. In Sri Lanka, he has chaired numerous CIMA committees, leading many initiatives, served on the Sri Lanka Board and presently serves as a member of Country Network Committee of CIMA Sri Lanka. He represents CIMA Sri Lanka at OPA Sri Lanka, as well. Manohara has been a CIMA Global Membership Assessor since 2017 and serves as a member of both CIMA Fellowship and CIMA Assessor Training Task Force.


Akila Gunarathna, ACMA, CGMA – Association MESANA RAP Member

Akila is the Head of Finance at Resus Energy PLC.  He holds a degree in Engineering specialized in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Moratuwa. An Associate Member of CIMA, he has an MBA from the University of Northampton (UK). He counts over 10+ years of experience in the field of accounting and finance and served Brandix and KPMG in the initial stages of his career. Ranked as 4th highest in the world / Sri Lanka Prize Winner for the TOPCIMA examination in November 2010m he was also the CIMA Sri Lanka prize winner for P2 Management Accounting Decision Management exam in November 2007 and was highly commended at the CIMA Annual Awards held in 2011 for Inspirational Story of the year award. He won a merit award at National Best Quality Software Awards in 2011 for the final year project on developing a methodology for an open-source Sinhala Grammar Checker as a team project.

 He is at present, the CIMA nominee at the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board and serves as the Chair of the IT steering committee. He served in the Member Development Subcommittee attached to the CIMA Country Network Panel in 2020. Akila is a visiting lecturer for CIMA at Wisdom Business Academy and has produced many global rankings including global first and many Sri Lankan prize winners for the case study examinations. He has conducted CIMA lectures in different geographies including Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam, Nigeria, and is a CIMA certified tutor to conduct A Star / CBLC pathway programmes. He conducts frequent CIMA case study revisions for Asia Pacific Region based on CIMA Sri Lanka’s invitation. Akila is a proud product of Royal College, Colombo 07 and is passionate about serving the CIMA fraternity in all possible ways.