University of Pittsburgh

The International Business Consultant

A passion for business development has taken Sri Lankan native Ranel T. Wijesinha on assignments all over the world: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, and the post-Soviet states of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Kyrgyz Republic, among others. 

Self-employed as an international management consultant, Wijesinha (MBA '88) parlays his expertise as a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) into advisory work for foreign governments, multilateral development banks, and private sector clients. He says he didn't necessarily seek out jobs in difficult political and economic climates, but he developed a reputation for success in those regions and that put him on the short roster of qualified candidates.

Previously Wijesinha served in international roles with the world's largest financial services firms—Deloitte (Resident Manager, Freeport Bahamas), PriceWaterhouseCoopers (Partner and Head of Consulting and Financial Advisory Services, Sri Lanka), and KPMG. Additionally, he worked as Director -Business Development for the John Keells Holdings Group, and in this role implemented the company's first Business Development division. And further still, Wijesinha founded and directed Lanka Ventures Ltd., and served as Chairman of Ayojana Fund Management Ltd. and National Wealth Corporation Ltd.

At a young age, Wijesinha trusted that an MBA was a steppingstone to grander heights. He moved from Sri Lanka to the Bahamas in his early twenties. There he worked and put money away for his graduate education. When it came time to apply, Wijesinha already had seven years of professional experience under his belt, and ultimately he chose Katz over programs in Canada, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom because Katz offered a one-year program that limited his time away from the workforce.

"My idea of an MBA program is what I got here at Katz," says Wijesinha, who traveled to Pittsburgh to take part of Pitt's 225th anniversary celebration during Homecoming Weekend in October 2012. "As a student, I wanted something that would provide a simulation of business and give you a large number of case studies."

At Katz, Wijesinha was vice president of the finance club and actively enjoyed the school's case study discussions. As a world-traveler, Wijesinha can say with authority that Pittsburgh has a charm all of its own, part of which is its unique geography of converging rivers and steeply rising hills.

"I liked living in Pittsburgh. It has history, interesting architecture. There is substance and wholesomeness in Pittsburgh—it's not superficial. There's character in Pittsburgh, something that's difficult to explain," Wijesinha says.

Wijesinha credits Katz for strengthening his ability in the areas of project evaluation and competitive strategies. As a management consultant, Wijesinha specializes in a wide range of areas, including business diagnostic studies, concept evaluation, feasibility studies, corporate turnaround strategies, privatizations, restructuring, and mergers and acquisitions. He also serves on the board of John Keells Hotels PLC and is Chairman of the company's audit committee. 

Concerned with the economic development in his native Sri Lanka, Wijesinha has served in several nonpolitical advisory roles. He was an honorary member of a USAID-coordinated National Steering Committee that set up a National Competitiveness Council for the country, which led later to the establishment of the National Council for Economic Development. Additionally, Wijesinha served on an advisory committee to the Minister of Industries that recommended numerous industrialization strategies, including capital market reforms and incentives for developing venture capital/private equity investment.

In addition to his business work, Wijesinha is a Past President of the 23 nation-strong Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants. Records show that he is one of nearly 30 Pitt alumni living in Sri Lanka, two of whom are from Katz. To that end, Wijesinha is considering starting an alumni chapter. 

Asked about what advice he'd give today's business students, Wijesinha says to never stray from ethics.  "It's possible to be successful without doing anything that is unethical, immoral, or improper," he says.