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Dinuke de Coonghe: From Project Manager to Entrepreneur

Posted: 18 December 2018

Sri Lanka, Private Sector,

For Australia Awards alumnus Dinuke de Coonghe, his Scholarship meant more than developing his expertise in just one sector. From enhancing his skills to expanding his business-oriented knowledge, Dinuke’s studies have led to him playing an important role strengthening organisational and internal human resource relationships at the private sector company he works for, and have also prompted him to venture into his own business.

Dinuke was working as a Project Manager at Millennium IT in Sri Lanka when he decided to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship to study a Master in International Business at the University of Adelaide. “I realised that to grow, Sri Lanka would need people who are skilled in the interface between computing and business,” he says. “That was the need that encouraged me to apply.”

In Australia, he found many differences between the Sri Lankan tertiary sector and Australian Universities, where students were expected to be much more self-reliant and questioning. At first, this was jarring, but by the time his wife (a microbiologist and a Quality Consultant) and his daughter joined him in Adelaide a few months later, he had settled into the Australian study environment and way of life. After completing his master’s degree, Dinuke returned to Colombo in 2014 with not only strengthened IT and management skills but also a much-increased sense of confidence in himself and his abilities.

Dinuke de Coonghe

After his return home, Dinuke re-joined Millennium IT, this time in a senior management position, with greater responsibility to grow the post-trade platform of Millennium IT’s business. In his current position, Dinuke  leads a product team providing his company’s clients with a world-class platform to operate their businesses.

“Millennium IT builds software applications for capital markets; and in that respect, it is essential for us to provide a robust platform which creates trust and reliability in capital market infrastructure,” he explains. “Globally, the ‘post-trade’ sector I am involved in is a growing sector; before I went to Australia, I could see many inefficiencies limiting our products to meet market needs, and I am happy I have been able to contribute to building a market-leading product for my organisation supporting market needs.”

Dinuke says he is proud to be working for a private sector company that operates in a niche market as a global icon. Keen to implement his Scholarship skills in the organisation he works for, Dinuke sees the potential for using the linkages he made in Australia to establish partnerships in the global capital markets sector with Australian private sector companies.

“Our business is truly international. I can see how we can make improvements by interacting with Australian organisations,” he says.

Dinuke’s immediate supervisor, Mithila Somasiri, is impressed with the skills and expertise Dinuke brings to his role as a senior staff member with Millennium IT. “Dinuke is the right person for the job. Once he returned from Australia, his position broadened into management, commercial development, activity execution and implementation. He has been responsible for introducing a number of worthwhile changes in the company, especially those that involve helping to determine new strategic directions for Millennium IT,” said Somasiri. Dinuke also has taken time to ensure other company staff learn from his knowledge and skills gained on his Award in Australia.

Like all Australia Awards Scholarship recipients, Dinuke prepared a Return to Work Plan before beginning his studies, to highlight what he wanted to achieve and maximise the benefit of his Scholarship. Dinuke still reviews his Return to Work Plan from time to time and sees it as a reminder of his career progress, even though his career may not have followed the pathway he initially thought it would. “The exposure I received in Australia’to expand my ‘soft skills’ in leadership, change management, and team supervision and building – has helped me a lot in my senior role,” he says.

While Dinuke currently enjoys resolving some of the remaining challenges facing Millennium IT, he has also ventured into his own business as an entrepreneur. Together with his wife, he has established a knowledge management company. The business combines both of their skill sets: Change Leadership and Quality Certification. He is also in regular contact with a private sector organisation – a taxation consultancy – that he undertook work experience while in Adelaide. This experience helped encourage his desire to establish his own organisation. He believes his company and other such organisations could readily partner with similar Australian bodies, producing mutual benefits for both parties and also for Sri Lanka’s and Australia’s national developments.