Who really Shurmara is?
Why did you start your career as a lecturer?
Second reason is my own personal experience as a student. I wouldn’t call myself a genius while in school. I preferred sports over books. I couldn’t memorize and I failed to see the purpose of studying someone else’ concepts. Then I met the most passionate teacher in grade 9. She didn’t teach, she lectured. She guided and made each one of us see studying as an enjoyable activity. She made us realize we study because we choose to study. This made me enjoy studying with the realization, that teachers play a great role not in grades the students receive, but in guiding them to find the path that leads to the grades. I found my own method of studying; Questioning. It made studying all the more interesting because I would question someone else’ concept and refuse to believe it unless I make my own sense of it. Then I realized teaching is an art and if I get that art right, every student would pass. My objective therefore was to focus on students who are unique. The bright ones whether we lecture or not will pass. They are self-motivated. But the ones who show signs of laziness in class, they get my attention. They are lazy because their studying styles are different, their personalities are different. That makes them unique. In a class of 40, 60, 70 students, finding that uniqueness is not easy. But for some reason, God has blessed me with the talent to spot them quickly and change my styles to support them. Each new batch I meet, each new day, I adjust my lecturing style to suit their needs. So I started to lecture to help students like me. To help those who are extremely talented but hates memorizing or accepting someone else’ concept unless they make their own sense; To give a voice to introverts in class through their chosen mode of study; To remind those students who feel they are weak or not intelligent enough because their styles are different from that of the system or norm, that they are unique and not weak and that they just have to find their mark.
How did you accept the challenges by being a lecturer in the Faculty of Business School at APIIT Sri Lanka?
Do you have a unique way of doing lectures?
Well I just do 3 things.
- I start my lectures by sizing up the class. There are no weak students in my class. There are 2 groups only. First group, has students who like the subject. The second group of students are the ones who don’t like the subject. It’s simple as that. Once I size it up, it is my duty to convert group 1 students from liking the subject to loving the subject and convert group 2 students from disliking the subject to liking it.
- Then I try to learn the different personality types in the class. For me, each student is a winner. By grouping students into personality types, I can easily help them win. Then I change my tone of voice, my body language, the way I lecture in order to help each personality type.
- Finally, I pray. I pray that God gives me the patience, kindness, empathy and tolerance to understand and guide each student. I see every day as a new day and I pray. I pray every morning that I would do the best for my students and help them grow. Therefore, each student’ accomplishment, maybe a simple answer they give, becomes a celebration.
My answer would most probably be not the conventional answer you would have expected from a lecturer, but for the 9+ years I’ve been lecturing, these three steps have given me invaluable results.
What defines your success and what personal traits you think that are important for success?
What motivated you to achieve your life goals as a female?
What are the factors contributing to the success of female entrepreneurs in the world?
The contributing factors were coined equaling to the human mind, body, heart and soul. Given the Sri Lankan nature, culture and context, and also the part of the country in which you are born, many females with immense talent struggle to develop and maintain a business. Therefore, from a research conducted for my MBA thesis, it was found that the following were key for sustainable success of female entrepreneurs in Sri Lanka. These are key for a female entrepreneur just like the mind, body, heart and soul are key for a living human being.A successful female entrepreneur’ Mind would be: past experiences and triggering events.
A successful female entrepreneur’ Body would be: support from family, the social and collaborative networks they create.
A successful female entrepreneur’ Heart would be: support from other domestic help, financial institutions and government institutions.
A successful female entrepreneur’ Soul would be: Internal Locus of Control, Ability to Foresee Opportunities, Determination, Motivation through need for achievement, Management Style, Decision Making Style supported by Cultural Norms.
Tell us more about your family business in retail and service sector.
We would like to know about your family background in brief. How are they influencing you?
What motivated you to get involved in charity work especially eliminating child poverty in Sri Lanka?
What do you think of the current undergraduates in your field compared to your undergraduate period?
We recognized you as a versatile person who looks ahead for the development of your country. What is the next milestone of you?
What is the secret recipe that you would like to share with younger generation as an education consultant?
- Key ingredient is Happiness: I look for happiness in whatever I do. I strongly believe happiness is contagious. You could be going through a horrible situation, but if you are happy doing what you do, it helps achieve great heights and also keeps others around you happy. So to the younger generation, “always be Happy”.
- Enjoying whatever I do: If I don’t enjoy what I do, I wouldn’t give even a second of my time to it. How do I make it enjoying? Look for novel ways of doing the same things, listen to music (it definitely heals the soul), eat my favorite food, surround myself with people of positive vibes. So to the younger generation, “always Enjoy what you do”.
- Love: though a difficult ingredient to find, it’s not impossible. I always try to find ways to love life. No matter what the situation, surrounding, or the different types of people I deal with, I try to love life. Through love, you find peace of mind, which is the pinch of salt we add in the end to every tasty dish. So to the younger generation, “always Love life”.
- Passion to keep on doing something great: once one great thing is achieved, I look for the next great thing I could do. This gives me hope and will power. It keeps all neurons of the brain functioning well which is the key to developing great ideas. So to the younger generation, “always be Passionate”.
Why I call it the HELP formula is because, these four ingredients not only fuel me in my life, but also helps anyone that I come to contact with. This is perhaps why I am a contented lecturer today.
Nerdtalks tell the stories behind great minds.