The daughter of an Accountant, Chandima was brought into finance to shadow her Father before finding her first IT industry finance role at a Canadian IT company called DMR Consulting, a role she secured through a highly competitive recruitment process. After a period at DMR Consulting/Amdahl, Chandima moved into Fujitsu initially as an Assistant Chief Accountant.
Covering an incredibly wide portfolio of verticals and geographies, Fujitsu enabled Chandima to expand her experiences across multiple moves upwards, sideways and diagonally. Chandima’s career spans a broad portfolio of challenging finance leadership roles and responsibilities straddling general business, sales and governance. She has undertaken roles such as Business Partnering covering Private Sector and Public Sector customers through to bid finance fronting large bids, risk management internal audit covering European countries and then number of finance business roles covering multiple countries and verticals.
Chandima also took an assignment overseas based in Singapore for just over two years looking after six countries in a leadership role supporting the CFO and the CEO of Fujitsu Asia region, and it entailed working very closely with the businesses of each of these countries, in emerging markets which had a different set of challenges from more mature markets in Europe. This was a very challenging opportunity, and the last six months of the role involved taking up the responsibilities of the CFO of the region who left. Since Chandima has returned back to the UK she has undertaken a number of key finance business partnering leadership roles with her current position being Finance Director for the Defence and National Security Business Unit
In a 19 year career at Fujitsu Chandima has worked with a variety of different customers from the Defence industry and other government departments to private sector organisations. Chandima’s tenure at Fujitsu has been both varied and successful with Chandima putting the length of the tenure down to the opportunities that working for Fujitsu has afforded her as a professional – as well as the unbiased approach they have to recruiting and development.
“We recruit the right skilled resources for the right roles regardless of your gender, background or identities. That has really enabled us to cultivate a diverse culture. We all have many diversity characteristics that make us unique, and this brings unique set of experiences, ideas and innovation for the benefit of our business and customers”
The industry that helped protect us through world wars and continues to protect us did so by tapping into the expertise of individuals from a variety of diverse backgrounds. We know, however, that more can be done.
Defence and Tech are both industries that are notoriously slow on the uptake when it comes to diversity with the Proportion of UK Defence business jobs held by women sitting at just 17.5%.
Fujitsu’s approach to talent acquisition is helping them create more change in the defense sector by enabling role models from all walks of life to succeed at the highest level.
“We are constantly striving to develop new talent, especially at the senior levels, because it is having those role models that will help and inspire the younger population and next set of emerging leaders”
An initiative that Chandima has recently had a part in is Reverse Mentoring – the practice of junior talent working with senior talent to help them make the changes needed at the highest level. It’s a great way of leaders getting honest and open feedback.
A relatively new programme that has been operated for a couple of years now, Chandima is being mentored by a Graduate at early stages of their career.
“It’s rewarding to get honest feedback and role reverse. We as senior managers and leaders can make a difference and build a more inclusive culture. It is an opportunity to cover topics such as the social challenges we went through last year to health & mental well-being through Covid 19 pandemic, diversity and inclusion to how we lead, how clear we are with our messaging on areas such as strategic direction. It’s a really good way for us as individuals and as an organization to stay agile. Change sometimes requires a cultural shift, sometimes a mind-set shift and it is having a growth mindset and understanding how we can adapt and change to address some of these existing and emerging challenges.”
Having opportunities laid out before you are one thing, showing the willingness and courage to take those opportunities, even if they present challenges, is another. For Chandima, who moved to Singapore for one of these roles, taking the roles that stretch and challenge you as a professional is key to a long and happy career.
“I had to learn the cultures and how you operate within each of those countries, as well as taking on quite significant business challenges and help turn some of the businesses around. So, for me, taking those challenging roles and being able to adapt and work outside your comfort zone has given me a good learning curve.”
Creating a snowball effect, where one challenging yet rewarding role leads to another, Chandima believes these roles have contributed most to her progression.
“They’re the ones I found as being more important steps in terms of my progression because by taking stretching roles and making a business impact though influence and collaboration you gain the support of the business and become a trusted adviser. Someone who can make a difference through their actions and values, someone who has the ability to pick up difficult business challenges and drive the right business outcomes. Not only do you build up your reputation and confidence, but you also broaden your knowledge and expertise.”
Unconscious bias is an automatic judgment that we make about a person or a situation. There are many different types of bias, and it’s important to realize that we all have biases. Even those that have sworn to remain impartial, like judges, for example, will have their biases.
Although more prevalent in certain verticals and industries, Chandima believes there is more that companies, from the hiring stage and beyond, can do to tackle this issue.
“We need to challenge biases and invest on our diverse talents to retain and grow these individuals.”
For those who might be adversely affected by conscious or unconscious bias, Chandima believes it’s important to stay courageous in their pursuit of the next milestone.
“Don’t put limitations on yourself and don’t be afraid to take those calculated risks within your career. Females, probably more than the male population, tend to evaluate all aspects of a role before going for it but that can be quite limiting. Believe in your own abilities. It is knowing the unique value you alone can bring.”
Good mentors can be pivotal during major junctures of your life, both personally and professionally. They can steer you clear of disaster, provide prescient views of the future that you can’t see, and give you support when you need it the most.
Everyone can find mentors. The difficulty lies in cherishing the relationships you have, cultivating new ones, and never taking for granted the people who can help you. Above all, you must recognize that mentors can be everyday people, who have extraordinary advice. They don’t have to be superheroes or millionaires or big CEOs.
Mentoring also plays an important role in the development of those who are still learning. Seeing someone they can relate to being put on a pedestal is inspiring.
For Chandima, Mentoring has both shaped her career and helped her contribute to the careers of others. Creating a mentoring programme within the Finance community across Europe, Chandima knows the power of mentoring firsthand.
“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship where you can bring and get honest views and share your experiences and expertise. It’s empowering to get that insight to help navigate career paths and to develop your potential and capability.”
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