Piyumi Dias typifies today’s career- minded, enterprising young women who reach for the stars. Piyumi graduated from the Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia, studying at the Sri Lanka Institute of Information Technology (SLIIT). She joined AFFNO, one of the leading companies dealing in software development, as a management trainee in their Marketing Division, in 2006. Today, she is its Business Development Manager, working with a cross-section of industry in both state and private sectors.
I guess her confident (but unpretentious) manner stems from the fact that Piyumi has been exposed to the international scene on frequent business trips to places like Mauritius, Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Kenya.
She told me that since quantity surveyors in the Middle East have been Sri Lankans for many years, the Arabs appreciate our knowledge and expertise. She also said that the Arabs base their business dealings on an element of trust and that she has learnt to respect their culture.
Working in the global IT field is sometimes challenging, Piyumi said, as you have to cater to different business cultures. She explained how in Oman, for instance, the private sector week is from Sunday to Thursday, with banks and Govt. departments working from Saturday to Wednesday, while countries like Kenya work from Monday to Saturday. AFFNO’s speciality is Knowledge Management software.
They had been invited by several Governments including Kenya, Bahrain and Tanzania, to discuss various projects. Piyumi explained that they have to present their credentials and their technical and business expertise to the client, and then address the requirements through the proposed IT solutions. They also focus on developing websites and devising appropriate Internet strategy. In order to find ways and means to ensure that the client’s presence makes its mark on the Internet, they must understand the nature of their clients’ business and adapt to their needs.
Piyumi is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in London, hence a Chartered Marketeer whose core interest lies in marketing. When, after gaining her IT degree, she pursued her goal of obtaining a professional qualification in marketing, Piyumi says she found the class she attended vibrant and stimulating. A product of Musaeus College, Colombo, she feels she owes much to her alma mater.
Her face lit up when she spoke of her days as a Girl Guide - it was Guiding that had the most enduring influence on her life, she says (she is a President’s Guide). More recently, Piyumi passed her MBA, studying at the Postgraduate Institute of Sri Jayawardanapura University. Her research topic for the MBA was on “Identifying Factors Affecting Delays in Decision-Making in IT Investment in Sri Lankan Organisations.” Last month, Piyumi went to Kenya and Tanzania to confer with Govt. officials about a proposed business project.
Her work sometimes brings other perks, too, as when, on a visit to Kenya in March this year, she was able to visit “Masai Mara”, one of Kenya’s national wild life parks. “Although we usually have tight schedules when on business trips, we sometimes get rare opportunities to spend some quality leisure time and this was one such bonus that came my way.”
The “Masai Mara” is widely known for the Wildebeest migration that takes place between this park and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park Apart from rhino and leopard and other species of wild life, Piyumi says they were very fortunate to sight three cheetahs on two consecutive days.