Vice President – Business Development of Infotechs and Director of Infotechs Travels Ramya Weerakoon never planned on becoming a working mother, however she had no choice in the matter when she was compelled to take on the role of being her family’s sole provider due to a change in fortunes.
Ensuring that her children were disciplined to be independent and confident at an early age and training them to be responsible supported the smooth functioning of her family’s daily routines and respective career demands and lifestyles.
In an interview with the Daily FT, Weerakoon encourages women not to compromise themselves, their families or values for the sake of position, power, authority or benefits. “Be all you can be in your home as well as in your workplace,” she asserts.
Following are excerpts:
Q: Why did you choose to be a working mother?
It was not a conscious choice that I made at the time. Our
Ramya Weerakoon and family
fortunes changed drastically after my son was about one-and-a-half years old. Suddenly I became the sole provider for about nine months and I was also pregnant with my daughter. I was an only child and my parents lived with me. I also had good in-laws who assisted us in looking after the kids from time to time, so being a working mother became a necessity for me even though I preferred to stay home, at least until the children were ready for pre-school at least. Due to the support of my parents and in-laws, I never had to totally depend on hired help alone during the time the children were very young.
Q: How did you balance the demands of working and raising children?
By ensuring that my children were well trained and well-disciplined to be very independent and very confident at an early age in their lives; by training the children to be responsible to take care of some areas which they could easily handle by themselves with supervision; and by receiving their support, cooperation and assistance with common activities and chores to support the smooth functioning of our family’s daily routines and our respective career demands and lifestyles.
Q: Could you describe a day in your life?
My day starts with praise and worship, prayer and reading the Bible. Then I attend to work-related important correspondence, calls and appointments out of the office. Then come meetings and more correspondence at office. I am charged with hope and enthusiasm to face new opportunities, challenges and threats while being able to relate to every new person life brings in contact with me. I go for a walk if time and weather permits, do groceries, cook for the night and for the next day. I speak to my spiritual friends, do more correspondence based on urgency, and brief praise and worship before bed time.
Q: How was your decision to work after having children accepted by your family and those around you?
My decision to work after having children was never an issue; I was blessed with amazing children who, despite my spending considerable time away from them, were very well behaved and took their natural life and spiritual life seriously. My husband too was very supportive of my career and my parents and my in-laws understood my reasons to be employed, whilst my employers understood my needs and priorities very well.
Q: What are the positive and negative reactions you have encountered along the way?
Through a severe financial crisis in my husband’s business, a rocky marriage, my parents passing away after long illnesses, intense financial
needs and lack, our family encountered God’s mighty power, protection and provision in our lives. We learned to walk by faith and not trust in humans, human abilities or wealth. We trusted in God alone and are free from fear, worry, doubt and anxiety. I went through a difficult divorce but have been able to completely forgive, forget and swiftly move on realising that my dreams for the future are bigger than my heartaches of the past and that I am created to succeed and live life abundantly.
Q: Looking back, what would you do differently?
Spend less time on work, more time in the presence of God, with my children and granddaughter, motivate and encourage others, spend time with the less fortunate, find time to write, paint and do many crafts I like doing, and travel both locally and globally.
Q: Are you satisfied with the level of recognition for women, their voice in national issues?
I am dissatisfied with the gender imbalance in political, social, professional and industrial segments and religious circles. I joined Women in Management because their primary focus is empowering local women to be a global example.
Q: What new roles should women/mothers play in the future?
Spend time, guide, motivate, mentor by example and supervise their children’s progress and activities, encourage them to be considerate of others and guide them to be of good character in every area of their lives. Get to know friends and teachers closely.
Q: In terms of policy, what changes would you like to see that would assist working mothers?
Strict laws against sexual harassment in the work place, in public transport, public places, domestic abuse, violence and gender bias. Better childcare facilities and health insurance for single mothers and women employed in the industrial sector.
Q: Your advice to aspiring career women who intend to continue after they have children?
Be sure of the support of your spouse and tolerant of your employer. Have the confidence and the grit to know that you possess what is takes to equally take good care of your husband, children, yourself and your career without compromise or constraint. Know what your strengths are and position them to help yourself to overcome your weaknesses, challenges and threats faced during home-related or work-related situations.
Q: Any tips you can share with working moms?
Do not compromise yourself, your family or your values for the sake of position, power, authority or benefits. Be all you can be in your home as well as in your workplace, whilst doing your utmost regardless of who gets the credit for your efforts and initiative. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated; ensure to guide yourself to being someone who overcomes.
Q: How do you stay inspired and continue on your chosen path?
Because I am part of the amazing revival group ‘Works of Wonder,’ I believe in immortality and an abundant life. I know that what is impossible with man is possible with God. I know that His word directs my footsteps and keeps me on course, moulding me for greater things to be accomplished throughout life’s journey.