Willowfield School Careers Junction – going full circle

 In News

ELBA’s Careers Junctions are opportunities for young people to hear from relatable, professional role models – volunteers from ELBA’s alliance of business partners return to school for a session, to talk to the students about their journey since leaving school, their current career and the sector in which they work. This is a fantastic way for young people to be inspired and educated about their life post-school.

Recently, students at Willowfield School in Waltham Forest were lucky to have Kieran Arasaratnam visiting them for a Careers Junction event, facilitated by ELBA. Kieran Arasaratnam attended Willowfield School, and so his presence was all the more inspiring:

“Just over two decades ago, at the age of 14, I was a student here at Willowfield School. I left Sri Lanka in very difficult circumstances, to flee civil war and with a hope to seek refuge in the UK. Many children leave behind more than their home when conflict forces them to flee – they also abandon their education. Willowfield School gave me a sanctuary when I first arrived in the UK. Today, I am here as a volunteer on the Willowfield Career Junction organised by ELBA (East London Business Alliance). Some little arc has come full circle today!

I  have  some really fond memories of being here at Willowfield School, in particular spending  time  with  Mr John Hemingway (my tutor and former headmaster) sharing my life challenges; he took my performance at school personally. He made me realise that exceptional teachers don’t teach, they empower. Mr Hemingway brought out the activist and the hunger for success in me. These days, I spend lot of time getting involved in issues of social empowerment and youth development both here and in my country of birth, Sri Lanka. When I look  back  today, perhaps  the  most  resounding  lesson that I learnt at Willowfield  School was absorbed by the subconscious; something that I hadn’t realised while I was in the thick of it.

Some of the valuable lessons I learned here at Willowfield guided me throughout my professional life. Most importantly I learned to regard other people’s views with compassion and empathy, an acceptance that it is possible for two viewpoints to be valid at the same time and that it is possible to disagree on issues without questioning the other person’s integrity. For this lesson alone, Willowfield represents the most defining part of my life. Thank you Willowfield School.”

On leaving  Willowfield  School, Kieran  Arasaratnam  went  on  to  City University, London where he graduated with First Class Honours in Electrical & Electronic Engineering and also spent time teaching at the Undergraduate School. Following  his Degree he pursued his PhD in Adaptive Signal Processing with paid sponsorship from EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) from Imperial College, London.

In his professional banking career, started with Barclays Capital based in Singapore, Morgan Stanley as a Head of Global Macro FX Structuring spending time between London, New York and now with HSBC based in London, Kieran has worked  with the most culturally diverse teams spanning different countries from Singapore to Tokyo to New York and the countries in between.

If you are interested in ELBA’ Careers Junction events, or other Education programmes, please contact jo.emmerson@elba-1.org.uk.

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