Lead 5050: Tamara Ranatunga

Coming from Manchester, where women were pioneers in the fight to win equal rights, I hope for a future where not only my daughter, but also my son, will enjoy equal opportunities.”

BSC is providing an opportunity for colleagues from across our business to be part of Lead5050, an organisation that empowers women in education.

We spoke to Tamara Ranatunga, the Assistant Director of Studies at BSC Manchester, about why Lead 5050 is an important step towards helping women reach their potential.

What’s the most exciting BSC project you’ve worked on so far?

Being involved in the set up of the student council, which provides an excellent opportunity for students to take on responsibility and use their English skills in an authentic way. It also provides a free forum for them to give formative feedback, both positive and negative. Starting a dialogue between our students creates cohesion throughout the school, as well as enabling chances to increase our ‘moments of truth’ by focusing on the interactions that are important to customers—and on the way, frontline employees handle those interactions. We can ensure that expectations are not only being met but where possible, exceeded.

What do you most enjoy about working at BSC?

I’m very lucky to work with a wonderful team, who encourage and support each other and provide plenty of opportunities to develop and continuously learn. My role enables me to see the business from different perspectives; learning a variety of skills is one of the best things about my job. The role can be challenging at times, but if something doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. During my 14 years at the school, I’ve developed lasting co-worker relationships, good cohesion, gained friends for life, and been supported by incredible mentors and role-models.

What’s been your biggest career success so far?

It’s difficult to highlight a single one, as I feel that my whole journey with the school has been hugely successful. Starting out as a trainee teacher in 2005 and working my way up to my current position has been such a fulfilling experience. Completing my DELTM qualification in 2017 was perhaps the biggest highlight, as I learned so much that was practically applicable. I’ve grown both as a teacher and a manager, and achieved far more than I dreamed of when I filled in my application form all those years ago! Great things really do start here.

What drives you in your career?

Making an impact on others and trying to bring out the best in people, be it with my team or my students. I recently bumped into a former student of mine from Colombia. Cristian was a CAE student in a class over a decade ago. On leaving the school he got a job and, as I found out, he has worked his way up to be a high flyer in a well-known PR company in the city. As we reminisced and chatted about the life he has created in Manchester, it was just wonderful to hear how fondly he remembered our classes, and how they had maximized his potential to achieve his ultimate goal. The best thing in the world is seeing people smiling because of you. It’s true that people won’t always remember what you said or did, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.

Is there a particular woman in business that inspires you?

Sheryl Sandberg is an inspiration to me, especially her idea that “the moment you start to wonder if you deserve better, you do.” As a life motto “speak up, believe in yourself, take risks” is something I try to adhere to. Self-belief really does drive outcomes

What innovations do you see in the future for BSC?

The introduction of Schoolworks has created much-needed transparency between departments, especially our customer-facing team; which in turn has led to better communication and understanding throughout the organization. In terms of innovation, I envisage diversification: more blended learning, with teachers incorporating digital media with more traditional forms of teaching, and more use of technology to enable students to become self-directed, lifelong learners. A shift to more organic and social learning, and more support of learners with specific needs through “glocalisation”; tailoring lessons to suit individual learners needs… as when learners show an interest, learning just happens.

If you had one wish for the future, what would it be?

As a British Asian woman, I have faced certain hurdles in life, which is why I’m so proud that overcoming stereotypes about race, religion, gender, and helping to broaden people’s outlooks, is a huge part of what BSC strives to achieve. My wish is for this in our wider society, and I believe that being part of Lead 5050 is a step towards that; inspiring and empowering women to reach their potential. Coming from Manchester, where women were pioneers in the fight to win equal rights, I hope for a future where not only my daughter but also my son, will enjoy equal opportunities and realise the vision that Sheryl Sandberg shares; that “In the future, there will be no female leaders; there will just be leaders.”

Do you want to find out more about the work Lead 5050 are doing to promote equality in International Education? Read more on their website.

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