Courage, Change and a Camera

After years in banking, Udayangi followed her passion into the hospitality industry. We spoke to her a month after she joined to find out how it’s going.

Udayangi Sooriyaaarachchi, Guest Relations Executive at Water Garden Sigiriya

You’ve recently changed career, what were you doing previously?

I used to work as an anti-money laundering investigator at HSBC for almost 6 years right after college. I was so proud of my job. It was my first job, and at an international bank. I was getting paid really well but at the end of the day, I felt like something was missing.

For nearly two years, I thought to myself ‘is this really what I want to do?’ Finally, I decided to take the risk, even though my parents were against it.

Why did you choose hospitality?

I am a people person, so I thought why not guest relations. I have 1-2 years of experience in customer service as well, so I thought I would fit this role well. Meeting travelers from all over the world and listening to their stories amazes me.

What’s your favourite experience?

Waking up every day knowing that it’s a new day and new adventures lie ahead. In my previous job, we always dealt with cases that happened 2-3 years back. Now, I’m living in the moment, and that’s what matters.

Is the job as you had expected?

It’s so more than what I expected. I thought I would have to deal with guests day-in and day-out, and that would be it, but it’s totally different. I get to walk around the property, which by itself is pure bliss.

You mentioned your family was a bit wary of you moving into the industry. What do they think now?

Now they are happy because I am happy. I should also mention that my fiancé is very supportive. He believes I should do whatever I want, because it’s my life at the end of the day.

Sometimes there is still a perception that it’s not appropriate for women to work in the hospitality industry. What are your thoughts?

This is the case for many industries, not only hospitality. I worked for an international bank and they had the same perception. Whatever the field, if you know how to behave and know your limits, it will be okay.
For me, it’s all about knowing your self-worth and your limits.

Describe yourself in one word.

Adventurous.

What can’t you live without?

My camera. Photography gives me a different perspective on the things I see every day, and a different meaning each time.

What advice would you give someone thinking of a career change?

Do whatever you feel is right, and what makes you happy. At the end of the day, life is not all about money. I want to give one message for all women: the hospitality industry is a good place for a woman, but you have to be brave and adventurous.

Hospitality Insider Issue 4