Ranjith Mahindapala had a 22-year research career at the Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka culminating with the position of its Director. He introduced results-based research management system and authored the book, Coconut Cultivation, printed in 11 editions, and received the science writing award for it from the Sri Lanka Association for Advancement of Science. He was also the recipient of Young Outstanding Scientist award in 1987.
He was the Executive Director of the Sri Lanka Council for Agricultural Research Policy, for three years and provided leadership for the formulation of the National Agricultural Research Plan, coordinated agricultural research system including forestry and fisheries, and provided leadership to agricultural research grant system involving all crop research institutes in Sri Lanka.
In a 18-year career at the International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources (IUCN) at its Sri Lanka Office and its Asia Regional Office in Bangkok, he gave leadership to design, development, and implementation of projects and programmes in natural resources management, and on Results-based programme management. He has been a lead trainer on LFA-based project planning in 11 countries in Asia and West Africa and has undertaken regular project planning and evaluations in these countries.
He is currently the President of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka, and works also as the Executive Director, Community of Evaluators – South Asia (Delhi, India) as well as working as an Independent Evaluator, Natural Resources Management.