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Thilini Wasundara

Thilini is unstoppable!

Here we take a look at her IET volunteer journey to date.

Thilini graduated in 2018 from the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, with a degree in Electrical Engineering. The following year she joined Minel Lanka Pvt Ltd in the role of Electrical Engineer. She is now the Business Development Manager.

Her relationship with the IET began in 2015 when she went along to an undergraduate session at her university organised by IET On Campus.

She joined the IET soon afterward as a student member and was soon bitten by the volunteering bug.

“I started volunteering as a STEM ambassador,” she said. “I also attended many IET events and met a lot of new people. All of these activities helped me to gain more experience, improve my skills and expand my professional network.”

Developing new skills

In 2016, inspired by her involvement as an IET On Campus student member, Thilini decided to take on the role of Vice Chair. “I led on a few projects, like organising workshops and visits,” she said.

“Along with my team, I did a lot of work promoting STEM to local schoolchildren. I started to develop many important skills including time management, leadership, team working and presenting.”

Thilini became her university’s IET On Campus Chair in 2017: “This gave me many opportunities to speak in front of a variety of audiences, so I was able to improve my presentation and communication skills.

During my term as Chair, I was appointed as Co-Coordinator of the 2018 IET Present Around The World Sri Lanka Finals. This turned out to be a very successful event and I went on to organise the South Asia Finals in the same year.

“As well as enabling me to hone my time-management skills, these experiences gave me the chance to enhance my decision-making and problem-solving abilities. They have since proved very helpful in the workplace.”

Making an impact

Thilini joined the Young Professionals (YP) section of the IET Sri Lanka Local Network after graduating. Her active On-Campus contribution as an undergraduate meant she was able to hit the ground running.

Her abilities, commitment, and proactive approach were evident for all to see, resulting in her appointment as Assistant Secretary in 2019.

She supported the YP team to organise many IET events, including the annual YP Technical Conference and the Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards, which she co-chaired.

True to form, she made a huge impact and was recognised as the IET YP Sri Lanka Outstanding Executive Committee Member of the Year.

Thilini became Honorary Secretary in 2020 and did a great job of keeping all the records in order. She also helped to organise online webinars in place of physical events during the pandemic; became an IET YP Ambassador; and joined the IET Volunteer Communications Working Party, which she found to be “a new exciting experience” that contributed to her professional development.

Leading the way

In 2021 Thilini became Sri Lanka’s YP Chair, which she rightly regards as a big achievement.

Despite the increased demands on her time, she worked hard to maintain her local On-Campus links and guided the undergraduate organisers of a successful inter-university virtual hackathon that took place during Covid.

She has now set her sights on creating an On-Campus group at two more Sri Lankan universities.

There were many hurdles for Thilini to overcome when chairing Sri Lanka’s 2021 IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards programme.

Again, one of the biggest was Covid: all the activities had to be carried out online, from the launch through to the interviews and awards ceremony.

However, Thilini and her team maintained a positive attitude throughout and remained focused on delivering a successful awards programme.

All that hard work certainly paid off when Thilini and her fellow YPs won the 2021 IET Volunteer Core Values Award for Teamwork. Naturally, it was Thilini who submitted the award nomination!

In this role, she helped to organise an IET@150 celebratory event: a sustainability-themed competition called ‘150 & Beyond’.

Entrants had to devise innovative solutions for waste management, which is a major environmental issue in Sri Lanka. Thilini and her team obtained funding from the IET@150 Global Engagement Fund for the event, which sparked tremendous interest from YPs around the world.

In all, the competition generated 20 waste-management ideas.

As Sri Lanka’s YP Chair, Thilini is also the South Asia representative on the IET YP Committee.

Living our core values

Thilini is an unstoppable IET volunteer. She is the living embodiment of our core values: Integrity, Excellence, and Teamwork.

“I always follow my passion to try new things,” she said. “I’m responsible and self-aware, and I try to do my best whenever I volunteer. Self-satisfaction is really important to me – and achieving good outcomes motivates me to do more and more.

“I focus on building a culture of ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ because I believe that together we can achieve more. I always involve other team members – enabling them to contribute also gives them opportunities to learn. Teamwork is the key to doing amazing things and making a better world.”

What Thilini loves most about volunteering is the chance to network with fellow IET volunteers and IET staff members from around the globe.

She freely admits that at times it is difficult to fit in all her volunteer activities and commitments on top of her day job.

But she does receive a lot of support from her employer, her colleagues, and her YP team members.

And that’s just as well because after scouring the outer two rings of the IET Volunteer Roles Map in search of new challenges, she has taken on two additional roles:

“I have joined the Project Control Technical Network Committee and am a member of the YPC team that’s working on a new ‘Train the Trainer’ project.

Winning the 2021 IET Paul Fletcher Award came as an enormous surprise to Thilini: “I was very shocked and so happy to win the award. It’s fantastic. I feel like I’m making a difference and I’m so proud about it.

I would like to give a huge thank you to everyone who has supported me in my volunteering and helped me to achieve this award.”

When asked if she had anything else she would like to add, Thilini responded: “The IET really is the best professional volunteering platform I have ever come across.”