Chaminda de Silva

Current Employment: Associate Partner at a Boutique Investment firm in Sri Lanka.

Education: BS, Banking & International Finance, Cass Business School, City University London and MBA, Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM)

Return to Sri Lanka

Besides completing her higher education in UK and Australia, CDS gained work experience in both these countries. After completing her undergraduate degree, she worked in London as an analyst for a year prior to returning to Sri Lanka. Subsequently, seven years later, she migrated to Australia to work as a Manager for Transaction Advisory in a “Big” audit firm. After nearly two years in this position, she took time off to pursue a MBA. She temporarily moved to Sri Lanka during her MBA (with still about 8 months left to complete it) to work as an Independent Consultant. She travelled back and forth between Australia and Sri Lanka, and completed her MBA.

Her move back home was made lot easier as she maintained close ties with friends and family, even while she was away. She did not have any difficulties in finding accommodation as she still had her own home. Additionally, she had lived and worked in Sri Lanka previously, so the change was not unexpectedly different for her.

Thoughts on Careers and Professional Development

While she enjoyed her time in Australia, it had always been her intention to return to Sri Lanka at some point to spend time with her parents. She found the ideal opportunity in 2009 when she was headhunted for a role in Management Restructuring in a firm in Sri Lanka. Her career path since returning home has progressed from her initial job as a Management Consultant, to CEO, to her current position as an Associate Partner. Through the years she has moved from working for a big organisation to being an owner. Her foreign education and work experience has shaped the way she works, along with her thought process, and has helped her to see beyond the prescribed solution.

Opinions about Working Culture

There are stark differences in the work culture in Sri Lanka compared to that of the UK and Australia. The power distance in Sri Lanka is greater and companies are hierarchal as opposed to a flat structure. People also tend not to take responsibility for their work, due to either an inability to do so or not wanting to do anything beyond their specified role.

One must adapt the way situations are approached to a style more conducive to Sri Lankans.

Experience with Compensation and Living Expenses

CDS has more than halved her earnings by moving back to Sri Lanka. The cost of living, she says, is high and it is difficult to save much (percentage wise), when compared to savings that can be put aside in Western countries.

Advice for potential returnees

Three years after returning from Australia, CDS is now fully settled. When asked about her decision to return home, she says she has no regrets, as says “there is no place like home.” She has re-joined the Rotary movement and has become a member of a Board of Trustees for a home for the differently-abled volunteer work has always been part of her life, whether she was in Sri Lanka or foreign soil. She encourages those considering moving back home to do so, if they can adapt easily to the way things are done in Sri Lanka or are open to change and can adapt themselves without always comparing how things are done elsewhere. Her advice to potential returnees is: “come with an open mind, there are many things that can improve, but be ready to learn the way things work here, there is always a way if you try” People considering moving back usually have a lot of questions related to job opportunities, salary scales, schooling, things to do, where to go and finding accommodation. While CDS thinks the easiest way to find this information is by talking to friends living in Sri Lanka, she believes that a site that has specific jobs listed will be useful for such people. She believes people will return if they are able to secure a good job, and with the uncertain job security in the U.S., Europe and Australia, there will be many Sri Lankan professionals interested in moving back at least temporarily.