Breaking the mold

By Rakbo Perera

In the intersection between what you know quite well and what you do not know at all, is in my opinion where the greatest excitement in life lies. In the 7 months prior to joining Octave as an Analytics Delivery Associate, I had just graduated from the University of Warwick in the summer of 2019, and I aspired to choose a path that was different from what I had been equipped through my academic studies into Economics and Sustainable Development. The 9 months since joining Octave, my first formal employment, was predominantly composed of learning whilst doing things as part of my job. Navigating these 9 months provided the opportunity to renew this learning by continuously tuning my approach towards my responsibilities, balancing the corporate execution with my aesthetic lifestyle in the arts.

In my role as an Analytics Delivery Associate, I act as a conduit between the business team of our client and the data science team at Octave – coordinating the integration of analytics solutions into existing business processes and formulating the methodology for financial impact realization. In my short time with Octave, I am amazed of the opportunity I have had to interact with some exceptional personalities across the John Keells Group, which was mainly facilitated during the career week. I was made to realize that it is perfectly alright to not have a crystalized ideal of your “future aspiration”, and it turns out that most of the people I spoke to were holding positions that were outside the realm of their younger aspirations. This became a critical point of reflection for me, especially when I had the opportunity to coach an acquaintance who had just finished his schooling and wanted some guidance on gaining industrial exposure at Octave. Data Science intrinsically is a vast domain of knowledge, and I wanted to dispel the misperception that learning about Data Science would only be relevant if you were to find yourself working as a Data Scientist. The computational thinking acquired through Data science problem solving is a highly transferable quality, for which you can regard the learning as an experiential journey rather it been purely outcome driven.

At John Keells I have found a diverse community of people with whom I could engage in pursuing my interests that are beyond just professional development. The numerous channels to direct my passion in sustainability adoption; for instance, planting Kumbuk saplings distributed by Group Sustainability or collecting plastic waste for the Plasticycle eco-brick challenge, has strengthened my resolve to be committed to seek for opportunities where I could make even the smallest impact. Despite working from home, I have had the joy in sharing my love for music with other talented individuals at the virtual gathering titled “Quarantunes” – this was a unique ensemble of my jazz performance on the Saxophone followed by traditional folk recitals by the other musicians. Finally, over the course of the McKinsey Management Program in the last 4 months, that homogenized the learning experience across the pool of participants from diverse professional backgrounds, renewed my consciousness of the human fallibilities that obscure us from a deeper people to people engagement.

Just as this reflection helped me recollect the values that meant the most during this strange time we live in, I hope you too would find tranquility in your reflection and find new inspiration in doing so.