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A Year of Uncertainty

After a successful 9-week work trip to the UK in the latter part of 2019, Sameera Thilakasiri returned to these shores in March 2020, along with colleague Maduranga Rathnamalala, to continue working with Jacob Bailey for Decipher Innovation, a joint venture with Mitra, delivering a place website marketing tool. Sameera’s skills in PHP Lavarel combined with his experience working offshore, made him the perfect candidate for this high-profile role. 

Sameera came to the UK in the expectation his young family would be joining him in April 2020, but Covid-19 had other ideas. There’s barely a person on the planet whose plans haven’t been disrupted by the global pandemic, but few will have dealt with the uncertainty of their situation with as much grace as Sameera. This was due in the first instance to his supportive and caring family in Sri Lanka, staying in constant touch and keeping his spirits raised, but the part Mitra UK played was also crucial to his wellbeing while so many miles from home. 

Sameera talks with such warmth about how he was looked after while in the UK, as if a member of an extended family, he speaks of regular distanced visits with colleagues, food parcels, shopping trips to the Asian Supermarket in Ipswich and Friday nights at the virtual Mitra Arms with colleagues who soon became friends. He is so grateful to Tara for her organisational prowess, and Derek who together with his wife Jayne, organised day trips, when allowed, and who was such a good mentor and friend. Having worked away from home before, Sameera says this experience was vastly different, in a good way! 

Sameera worked closely with Shaun at Jacob Bailey and was an extremely valuable member of the team. This is what Arfath has to say…

“The Decipher project resourcing was a unique one. At the time, Mitra did not have PHP as one of its main competencies, we were more focused on Angular, Java and .NET. Fortunately, with Sameera's previous experience in PHP and front-end technologies, combined with his long-standing experience in offshore projects, it was an easy process to prepare for the Decipher interviews and get this opportunity through.

Arfath SaleemHead of Human Resources - Mitra Innovation

However nothing about Sameera and Maduranga’s repatriation was straightforward, with the few seats on flights that did become available over the summer being snapped up quickly. Persistence paid off and Mitra managed to get two seats on a flight on the 8th of August. His rapid exodus from the UK meant having to leave most of his belongings in the house, anticipating he would return before too long. On-going lockdowns in the UK and Sri Lanka have made trips between the two extremely difficult and unpredictable, so Sameera continued to work with Decipher Innovation from Sri Lanka for the duration of the project. 

In a message to Sameera recognising his and Maduranga’s efforts, Founder & COO Derek Bell said:

Today marks the end of your lengthy and very important assignment with Decipher. I couldn’t let the event pass without marking the occasion and thanking you for your excellent efforts throughout the assignment.
When the global pandemic first struck, you & Maduranga had already settled into working life here in UK, and you were actively looking forward to your whole family joining you. Twelve months later, we find ourselves in a very different world. The manner in which you coped with these changes was impressive. Especially the positivity you continued to demonstrate throughout your UK stay, even during lockdown and unexpected lengthy separation from your family.
On a professional level, your technical skills were exceptionally helpful in establishing the Decipher team, and I know they are grateful for your contribution. They would have loved to continue your engagement, but sadly commercial pressures on Decipher have required reductions in their team sizing.
Above all, I especially value the friendship we built over your lengthy time here in UK. I look forward to meeting up again when global travel permissions return.

Derek BellFounder & COO

Sameera is characteristically positive about his time in the UK, saying, “On a professional level, I learnt so much from working with Decipher Innovation. The way they managed the design stage of the project and the steps that we followed, was really informative, and I have used some of that experience going forward. The way the technical development was then presented to customers was different to how I have done it before, and I enjoyed being part of that process.” When asked if he had any advice for other Mitra employees who might be invited to work in the UK, he was again very positive saying, “Despite the pandemic and being away from my family, the experience overall was good, and I’d like to thank my UK colleagues for looking after me so well. I’d always advise anyone to take the opportunity if it is offered, but definitely take a warm coat with you!”

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