Success Stories

Success Stories

Returner Profile – Ruvini Nanayakkarage

AAI CEO Joy Lewis had a chance meeting with Ruvini as she was working in the café downstairs from the Edinburgh ‘Back To Work’ launch event for minority ethnic women returners. Joy encouraged Ruvini to come up to the event on her break and took her around the room to talk to people about what they’d been doing that day.

Ruvini signed up to the workshops and eventually secured the Returnship with Mara Seaweed. Despite a shy demeanour, she credits AAI with giving her the confidence to then apply for another post with Lloyds Group and she got the job!

We caught up with Ruvini to hear all about her journey.

What was your background before ‘Back To Work’?

I gained my Production Engineering Degree in 2006 from theUniversity of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Since then I have worked as a Production Engineer and a Business Analyst but had several career breaks following my husband to New Zealand for higher studies and looking after my daughter. We moved to Scotland in 2015 and since then I struggled to find a job to fit in with my knowledge and experience as well as family commitments as we settled in Scotland. 

Job Hunting Experience

Since I’ve been in Scotland I have found it very hard to understand accents, especially at interviews. I had had a career break of 3 years, so I was very nervous about going back to work. I know my career as a Business Analyst is in a very fast-moving industry and many things change in very short time. I thought I would have a lot of catching up to do in terms of technology as well. So I completely lost my confidence after some unsuccessful interviews. 

How did you hear about AAI and the Back to Work project to support women returners?

I met Joy by chance in October 2017. She came in to buy a coffee ahead of a Project Launch she was about to run, upstairs from where I was working in the café.  We had a very short conversation and she invited me to join her upstairs at the AAIevent.  I popped up at my lunchbreak and she introduced me to a lot of people in my position as well as some employers who were very interested in my story.  I was then invited to an AAI workshop to be held in January

How did AAI support you?

At the AAI workshop in January 2018, Joy helped me with my CV personally and Tim went through some interview techniques and improved our confidence. Then after a few weeks, Tim Street contacted me with a potential job and asked me whether I would like to apply. As I liked the job description, I went for an interview with Mara Seaweed and I got offered the job. 

How was your Returnship experience? 

Even though the internship I was offered with Mara Seaweed was not really what I used to do, it helped me to improve my communication skills and get my confidence back on track.

What are you up to now?

In the last week of my internship, I did start to apply for jobs and got an interview with a leading bank. I had two interviews and a test, and I managed to face the interview successfully and got offered the job straight away. This is a great opportunity for me because I always wanted to worked in the Finance industry and it was bit of a dream come true.

The Returnship helped me to feel confident and that I can really do something. Now I know I can really find a good job. My new job is working as a Data Gatherer with Lloyds Group.

In my opinion, it’s a big achievement. Before this project, I couldn’t get a job, and couldn’t face an interview, so I’m really happy.

It was very unexpected, and just fate that I met Joy in an unusual place. I never thought I’d find somebody in a café that would change my life.

What would you say to other employers about giving women opportunities to reignite their career after a break?

I never thought I would get this kind of an opportunity to find my career in Scotland which I’m really grateful for. I want to say to the employers, the women have so much potential, passion and talent to offer but most of these women do not get a chance to show what they can do. Some women are dying to come out and shake the dust off after a career break. Most of the women take a break to raise the family which is the future of these women.

If they (women) can make a real difference to a family, they can definitely make a difference to the world. They only need an opportunity to shine. 

Any final thoughts

Finally, I want to offer my gratitude to the team at AAI, especially to Joy, Tim and Nick. Joy is the kindest lady I have met in Scotland. I would not be doing my job today if AAI didn’t exist.

They treated me like family when I went to the workshop and helped all the way to the internship and kept me well informed about the ongoing jobs and the CV as well. I want to thank the AAI team and wishing them all the best of luck for the future. 


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