IT consultant and tech entrepreneur Dilan Jayasekara has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from UCD’s Colombo Campus in Sri Lanka. He relocated to Australia and has risen rapidly in his industry. In December 2021 he was nominated at the Australian Computer Society’s Digital Disruptor Awards as one of four finalists in the ‘Emerging ICT Professional of the Year’ category. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Tara.
- You studied at the UCD Campus in Sri Lanka – why did you choose UCD as the place to pursue your studies?
I wanted to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science soon after I finished school, and the UCD Campus had an excellent reputation for ICT/Computer Science in Sri Lanka. I did a bit of research by myself and selected UCD without any hesitation as my first choice.
- Can you recall some of your most impactful learning experiences whilst you were a student?
Absolutely, my professors were amazing and so talented! One memory that I have is during the final academic year: Professor Neil Hurley (Module on Artificial Intelligence) described different machine learning approaches, neural networks and genetic algorithms, and recommendation techniques. It gave me a ‘Love at First Sight’ vibe on the term Big Data, Data Science and Artificial intelligence. I know that was the first brick or layer of my data science/data engineering career.
Also, I remember when Professor Tahar Kechadi opened a class on Internet Architecture one day with an excellent speech that has shaped my whole professional career in ICT. He said that people often think that computer networking is about connecting computers. It’s not. It’s about connecting people. I think about that all the time.
- You now live in Melbourne, what brought you to Australia?
Since I was a child I was determined to live overseas – a childish ambition that only grew as time passed. I migrated to Australia in the summer of 2017. I was drawn to Oz in particular due to its rich multi-culturalism – plus kangaroos! Also, I always wanted to watch the Ashes Cricket live, which I finally did last summer!
- Melbourne had some of the strictest Covid lockdowns in the world – how did you keep yourself busy and sane during this time?
It has always been my professional desire to do something that combined the logic and reasoning of science with the passion and creativity of art. Finally, during the lockdown, after many years of education, experimentation and exhaustion, I figured out how to combine the two with a special project — Cestine Music Analytics. Cestine is a music data analysis project using Spotify to identify music patterns and learn more about how the recommendation algorithm works. At Cestine we believe: “Music is not just instrumental anymore, it’s data about entertainment.” Through this lens, the project helps aspiring artists gain more visibility by educating them about certain musical structures and patterns that they can incorporate into their own songs to make them more algorithmically friendly. Also, I created a blog of my own called ‘Jayasekara Blog,’ which has articles that cover everything from data science to mental health.
- How often do you get back to Sri Lanka?
Not often enough, and I really hope to change that in 2022.
- What interests you the most about your job?
I’m passionate about technology because it’s about building better tools to make life easier. Tools by definition help you do work. And the work that we’re doing is ultimately about people. I make data engineering pipelines here at Pitcher Partners to connect clients with their data, allowing us to extract hidden stories behind their data and showcase it in a way they’ve never experienced before. I’m obsessed with cutting-edge technology, not just because it’s new — it’s proof of how fast technology is evolving and a reminder for me to keep growing in the space.
- What is the proudest moment of your career to date?
Going from an immigrant international student who spent 20+ years in a country where political corruption was present, a 30-year civil war, bomb blasts, and tsunamis – to a successful finalist candidate for the ‘Emerging ICT Professional of the Year 2022’ by the ACS (Australian Computer Society) was an incredible moment.
- What do you think your career priorities will be in 10 years’ time?
Same priority as I had 10 years ago: be the best at what I do, achieve great things in life and share the knowledge and wisdom with the world, because great learners don’t just consume, they contribute.
- Who are the most interesting or helpful mentors or advisors that you have had?
When the pandemic hit, like many people, I lost my motivation. Then as a result of many conversations and contemplations over time with an amazing mentor (AJ Kulatunga from AJK Global), I realised that the work I’ve been doing is valuable and has a purpose, so I pushed myself forward. AJ is not just a mentor, he is a friend and a brother to me and always has my back. In my opinion, supporting someone mentally is one of the most precious values a human can have and I’m forever grateful to have that type of mentor in my life.
- What advice would you give to someone who is just beginning their career?
Work on your personal brand from the very beginning of your career. Go to meetups and events to get to know people and grow your network. I landed both my internship and my current job by references only. Your network can open doors for you in ways you never imagined.
- Tell us a bit about your current life, your family and your hobbies?
My mom, dad and sister are in Sri Lanka, and I live with my wife Tara in Melbourne. We love our early morning walks which give us an energy boost to start the day on a good note. In terms of hobbies, we both love sketching, painting, and writing blog articles and poems. We often spend time watching movies, and various TV series. We both also love reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction books.
- What is the most useful book you’ve read?
I just finished reading ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari. It changed my life! This book filled me with a sense of wonder; wonder at how far we’ve come in just a few millennia; wonder at all the twisting roads of history; wonder at where we could possibly end up.
- What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every noisy dog that barks. Let them bark, let your success be your noise.”
- Describe yourself in three words.
STY: “Stronger Than Yesterday”
Check out Dilan’s blog ‘Jayasekara Blog’ here