Big-League Highflier, Benevolent, Humanitarian, Futurologist
Dr Mahendra Samarawickrama (GAICD, MBA, SMIEEE, ACS(CP)) is the Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) ICT Professional of the Year 2022. A highly accomplished leader having an impressive track record of driving visions, technology innovations and transformation toward humanity, social justice, and sustainability. Dr. Mahendra Samarawickrama is also a founding director of the Centre for Ethical AI and the Centre for Sustainable AI. He supports the formation of organisational Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy and drives ESG projects leveraging emerging technologies. Subsequently, he also specialises in directing AI, Data Science and Customer Experience (CX)-focused teams on building state-of-the-art capabilities. He is an author, inventor, mentor, and advisor and regularly speaks at various technology forums, conferences and events worldwide. Many of his publications and frameworks related to AI governance and ethics are spotlighted in national and international forums.
Having led an extensive and decorated career, Dr Mahendra is also a loving husband and a father to a daughter and a son. He has contributed to Sri Lankan music by being a lyricist and audiobook writer. He exclaimed his love for playing baseball and exploring Australia in four-wheel driving. He’s also an avid reader of consciousness research and is the founding director of the Australian Centre for Consciousness Studies.
He received his PhD from the University of Sydney in 2018 and achieved double masters in business administration and project management from the University of Southern Queensland in the same year. He also received a Master’s and an honours Bachelor’s degrees in 2011 and 2009, respectively, for Electronic and Telecommunication Engineering from the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka. As the Manager of the Data Science and Analytics team in the Australian Red Cross, he has developed an AI governance and strategy framework crucial to the business’ successful deployment of Data Science and AI capabilities to mobilise the power of humanity. He built the Volunteer Data Science and Analytics team from the ground up, supporting the Australian Red Cross’s strategic goals.
Tremendous support has been shown by him for the business of personalised engagement of customers for disaster resilience in the demanding times of the coronavirus-pandemic, natural disasters, and global conflicts. He is also a co-author of the IFRC data playbook and contributed to the data science and emerging technology chapter for AI governance, ethics, and literacy. In all these processes, he valued diversity, equity and inclusion. In recognition of this, his team became finalists in 1) the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Action Award in the 2021 IoT Awards, 2) the Best Use of Technology to Revolutionise CX Award in the 2021 Ashton Media CX Awards, 3) the Service Transformation for the Digital Consumer for Not-for-Profit/NGO in 2022 ACS Digital Disruptors Awards, and contributed to winning the CX Team of the Year Award in 2021 Ashton Media CX Awards. All of these awards are prestigious national awards.
He is an industry collaborator who actively leads technology innovation-and-transformation initiatives and partnerships toward humanity, social justice and sustainability. In this perspective, he is an Advisory Council Member in Harvard Business Review (HBR), an Expert in AI ethics and governance at Global AI Ethics Institute, an industry Mentor in the UNSW business school, a senior member of IEEE (SMIEEE), an honorary visiting scholar at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), an Advisor for Data Science and AI Association of Australia (DSAi), and a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD). Well-versed in the arena of Business Governance and Leadership, he brings the capacity to steer organisations through the complex, data-driven problems of our time.
“Human-centric design and experiences are important aspects of the solution design”, he exclaims. He is led by a hunger to explore emerging technologies through an ethical lens for driving social responsibilities to identify, engage, interpret and analyse the needs that include cultural perspectives, establishing priorities and goals, and identifying constraints, uncertainties, and risks of the solutions. Dr. Mahendra believes in the power of humanity to make the world a better place. For him, social diversity, equity and inclusion are major factors behind technology and society being more sustainable.
A single-minded person to assure human dignity in emerging technologies whilst supporting humans to flourish is what encompasses Dr. Mahendra. He is an advent believer in social diversity, equity and inclusion when innovation and transforming technologies to help towards social impact and culture, harmony and psychological well-being are key factors during the processes.