Being in the earlier stages of his career, Tanila De Silva is younger than the guests I normally interview for the Career Q&A. I invited Tanila to share his story because his enthusiasm and presence is something I know will take him a long way in his career. It is my hope that by reading this, you will share it with others in your community who could benefit from his attitude and approach to his career journey.
I met Tanila for the first time recently at a YTM Networking evening. The Bendigo Bank is a platinum sponsor of YTM and offer their staff the opportunity to attend these events. When Tanila first introduced himself, it was his confidence and name that I noticed first. He exudes a comfort with himself that is beyond his years. He is self assured without being arrogant, and extremely friendly. I was fortunate to be sitting at the same table later in the evening and took the opportunity to learn more about him. Interestingly, he has not revealed any of the more personal elements of his story, which he did touch on briefly when we spoke. Where you come from makes you appreciate what you have, and it strikes me that this is the case with Tanila De Silva.
1. Please tell us a little about a day in the working life of Tanila
A working day can be any day of the week for me, weekdays are a given as with any profession, however my clients sometimes require me over the weekends as well as after hours and I am happy to oblige. My day would usually consist of meeting a client and identifying what they are after. It would also involve attending meetings with managers, branch meetings, and one on ones. Where I seek guidance from mentors and senior staff members with any difficult situations I happen to be in.
The day starts quite smoothly and always does as I believe the most important requirement is to be prepared. This means the night before I am completely aware of what appointments, meetings, functions and extra-curricular activities I have and can fire them from the top of my head in chronological order.
I like to give myself adequate time for travel, and client appointments. The last thing I want is to be rushed with a client, or pushing myself unnecessarily. 15 bonus minutes of travel time beforehand and spreading out my meetings and appointments evenly throughout the week keeps me little stressed and always fresh during the day, to perform at the level I want.
Adequate preparation, timely planning and a thorough understanding of what each appointment or meeting entails beforehand is what makes every day a successful one.
2. How does this differ to your career ambitions as a young adolescent?
As a young adolescent I truly believed that a full time job was the most amazing thing in the world to do. I would not have to study, I could wear a suit to work and I would get paid. Working in banking for almost 7 years now I can safely say that this is definitely not as simple as I once thought. My career ambitions during the later stages of my secondary schooling were to practice Law, and then become a practicing Solicitor. When Law did not work for me during my first year of university I dropped that and completed my Business and Commerce degree.
This led me to wanting to become a Chartered Accountant one day, but similar to my aspirations of Law this soon fell through. But not because I struggled with the degree but more due to the sheer dryness of having to do this day in day out.
I decided during my degree to get my foot in the door at a Bank, and that is what I did. I forced myself in by chasing up recruiters and making a name for myself by proving I could do what was required of me.
I know this is the right field for me and I am very happy in this industry and always looking for a challenge to supersede myself.
3. What was the defining moment that set you on the career path you are on today?
I merely walked into a bank to make a deposit for my Dad and began a conversation with a teller. She was a lovely lady, Donna, who gave me great advice along with a few names of recruiters to search. We always need banks, they will always be a financial need that we cannot survive without. With this information I knew the field was a safe one. I knew I had to leave my mark early on, so without wasting any time I got home ‘googled’ these names and called them up until I spoke to someone who wanted to get to know me. This was enough for me to send through my resume and I even had a on the spot phone interview. After much testing and interviews that banks require I was offered a position and have not looked back since.
4. What is one of the best decisions you’ve had to make in your journey to success and career happiness?
Not to be afraid to move on and take a risk.
As lucky as I am to be where I am now, I have also been very unfortunate at the hands of previous roles within the bank. I was promised roles and completely excluded, I was moved to branches further away from home, and offered a senior position at this new location, however after some time this offer was neglected and forgotten about.
Similarly, again I was not given the opportunity to shadow other areas within the Bank despite my great KPI’s. However I am a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason,’ as upset as I was at times, I never gave up and never took anything to heart. Taking things personally can bring you down and make you suffer longer, which ultimately costs you more time and pain.
Lastly, do not EVER burn bridges. Despite being ‘burnt’ by multiple managers I always walked away with a smile and a handshake. There are enough problems in the world, I don’t need to create more.
5. What advice would you give to someone starting their career/business in your industry?
In this industry you will come across many different departments and even more inspirational people. Do not give up if things do not go your way, initially or even after some time. There is always room to learn, grow and develop skills to better yourself so that you can find an area you can be truly happy in.
6. Please tell us more about your plans for your new role at the Bendigo Bank
This is a new role for Bendigo Bank as well as for myself. My plans are to create many great networks within the community and within the bank. I have started this role by putting myself out there and meeting as many different people and groups, as well as attending as many community events as I possibly can. I like to not only learn about what people prefer but also to see how I can adapt and become a more effective problem solver.
That is my goal, I want to solve people’s problems and make sure they get what they ask for, while at the very same time providing a high quality financial service, so I know they are completely protected and nothing is overlooked.
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