Game, set, match: Sawan Serasinghe’s leap to Accenture
July 8, 2021
Badminton Olympian Sawan Serasinghe, shares the similarities between sport and technology, and how he kick-started his career with Accenture’s graduate program.
I was born in Galle, Sri Lanka to a sporting family. My parents played badminton when they were younger, and my sister competed at the national level. I picked up a badminton racquet at age five with my parents’ encouragement, and it just kind of grew from there.
We migrated to Australia when I was 10, and I continued playing as I grew up, eventually playing doubles for national and international tournaments. Eventually progressing to the qualification rounds for the Badminton Men’s Doubles for the 2016 Rio Olympic games!
This process was very demanding, I was constantly on the go travelling from one country to another, adjusting to various climates, and time zones, while still finding ways to train and stay in shape to compete. I think I travelled to 20+ tournaments within that 12-month period. But I made it! I ranked high enough to be one of five Australian badminton representatives to make it to the Rio Olympics. I was super excited.
My favorite memory of the Olympics was competing against the then World #1 pair. My doubles partner and I, Matthew Chau, were the underdogs going into the match, especially since we were the youngest team in the whole draw.
Of course, I was nervous, but it helped knowing that my family was cheering me on in front of the TV back in Australia, and I’d done all the required preparations before heading into the match. Although we didn’t win, we certainly surprised a lot of people, holding our own going neck and neck with the best in world. The score line was quite close, and we were leading most of the match. Making it to the Olympics was something I’d wanted to do since I was very young, and it felt amazing to finally have achieved this goal. I’m definitely looking forward to supporting my current teammates who will be competing at the Tokyo games, although it will be interesting to see what will happens given the current situation with COVID-19.
Outside of my sporting pursuits, I’ve always been very interested in technology, even from an early age. I was influenced by my dad, who was an Information Technology (IT) and Science teacher back in Sri Lanka and I used to sit in on his classes as a child. As I grew older, this interest just stuck with me, I would read articles about new tech and what’s happening in the world of IT. This led me to pursue a Business Information Systems degree at Monash University. As I was finishing my degree, I looked at what opportunities were out there. I knew I wanted to be in tech, but I wasn’t sure exactly which area I wanted to be in.
I first heard about Accenture from a close friend who had joined as a graduate. I was hearing a lot of positive feedback from people regarding the company, the culture and how Accenture supports its people to learn and grow, which was exactly what I was looking for. When I saw that applications were open for Accenture’s Graduate Program, I applied and got in!
Since starting with Accenture, I’ve been given the opportunity to study and complete two certificates related to a platform and since then I have joined a delivery team working with a financial services client. Today, I work as a test automation engineer for a financial services client. On top of that, I am also part of the codeless automation accelerator team. A lot of my work focuses on DevOps as well as reporting—checking and making sure that things are running correctly daily.
Even though I’ve kick started my career at Accenture, I still play badminton professionally. My daily training is currently split between on-court and off-court training. I usually train from 6 to 8:30 in the morning before I start to work by 9 a.m.
While sports and tech may seem like completely different fields, there are a lot of similarities that make it easier for me to adapt and find balance.
For instance, in badminton I specialised in doubles, playing in sync with my partner. In the same way, at work, I make sure to be in sync with the teams I work with so we can deliver whatever is expected of us by our clients. Plus, all my sports training and preparation requires a lot of organization, which flows into my working life as I’m conscious of the time I allot for different tasks and how I work with different people.
I consider myself lucky to be working in Accenture, because I get the exposure to the different industries and technologies there’s always something new to work on, the learning opportunities are limitless, and the leaders are very supportive.
To anyone getting ready to take the next step in their career, I would say be open minded and say yes to as many opportunities as possible. There’s always room to learn new things even if it’s not something you originally had in mind, and you never know when it will come in handy and help you in the future to progress your career.
At the heart of every great change, is a great human. If you have the ingenuity and a passion for making a difference, you’re who we’re looking for. Accenture’s Graduate Program is open now, apply today!
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