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My career as a senior economist after studying the UK

Ranee Jayamaha

Dr Ranee Jayamaha from Sri Lanka graduated from the University of Stirling with an MSc Economics in 1976 and the University of Bradford with a PhD in Monetary Economics in 1989. She is currently Lead Consultant South Asia at World Bank Group

Please describe your current job.

As the Lead Consultant South Asia for World Bank Group, I am responsible for providing advisory support to the Maldives in implementing a mobile payment solution.  In addition to this, I am working with the World Bank team in conducting a full scale review of the financial sector of the Maldives.

What drew you to study your subject in the UK? How did it help you in your chosen career path?

I joined the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) in 1971 as an Economist with an honours degree in Money and Banking from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.  Post graduate qualifications were necessary to progress in the Economic Research Department (ERD) and to build a career at the CBSL.  I applied for a British Council scholarship and was offered a place at the University of Stirling for a two year MSc in economics.  This helped me immensely in my career development at CBSL and also helped me to work in the UK at a later stage, at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London on secondment.  

Why did you choose the UK?

Having followed a British education system in Sri Lanka, it was logical to continue with a UK post graduate degree.  Also, due to high academic standards, UK degrees are well recognised in Sri Lanka.

What was your career progression after you finished your UK course

After completing my Master’s degree I was promoted to Senior Economist and then to Deputy Director at the Economic Research Department of CBSL.  After completing my PhD at the University of Bradford in 1989 I was promoted to the Director of Banking Development, then to Assistant Governor and to Deputy Governor.  My UK education, based on theory and practice, has been of immense value in building my career path at CBSL.

What advice would you give students from your country hoping to get into your area of work?

UK universities provide a good mix of theory and practice for students and that helps with building a career. Moreover, the time period of completing a postgraduate degree in the UK is relatively shorter than that of the USA.  Spending money on a UK degree is a worthwhile investment.   

What for you has been the most useful outcome of your UK education?

The sound theoretical and practical knowledge provided by the UK universities improved my knowledge, enabled me to embrace opportunities and gave me confidence to undertake challenging tasks. 

What are your ambitions for the future?

After 45 years of service in the banking and financial sector in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, I have now retired from my substantive posts. Currently, I am currently a World Bank consultant, and that has helped me to continue with my professional work.  I also serve as a member of the council of the University of Colombo and on two private company boards.

Did you find it easy to settle in to life in the UK? What did you enjoy the most about living here?

It took me some time to adjust at the beginning of the MSc course but student life at the University of Stirling was an excellent experience. I cherish my memories as an international student and the close friendships I established. My six year stint at the Commonwealth Secretariat was a very rich experience and that gave me a great opportunity to live in London and work with multinational colleagues.

What’s your number one memory of your time in the UK?

The joy of successful completion of my PhD and the grand party my friends and staff arranged for me is number one memory of my time in the UK. 

Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience of studying in the UK and how it helped shape your career?

The guidance and advice that students get from their supervisors and course directors, and their understanding of student problems make a huge difference in student life, especially for mature postgraduate students. I was extremely lucky to have two excellent supervisors for my MSc and PhD.  They were my mentors and I benefitted immensely from their thorough knowledge of the subject and guidance they provided during critical times.