Sajani Tilakaratne

From biomedical engineering to management, Sajani’s passion for helping people is leading to a rewarding career.

Sajani Tilakaratne – Master of Engineering Management “I chose RMIT because I knew they had strong industry connections” Sajani Tilakaratne – Master of Engineering Management

Sajani always knew she wanted a career at the intersection of health and engineering. Through industry connections and research gained in her undergraduate studies, she discovered her passion for helping people led to a career in consulting.

“Growing up I was always interested in the health sector and in high school I liked physics, robotics and technological subjects. My parents were the greatest inspiration for me to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. As a kid, I watched my family deal with the health care system, and also my dad is an engineer, so that influenced me to pursue a career that encompassed both areas.”

Looking at her university options to study engineering, Sajani found that RMIT had strong industry connections and gave students many opportunities to engage with industry through placements and projects.

“I chose RMIT because I knew they had industry connections. I was lucky enough to experience that - in my third year I secured an internship with Bionics Institute and in my fourth year I did my honours project with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

“The industry experience I gained in those years really helped me. I was able to put the tertiary skills and knowledge to practical use, and to understand what it's like to work in the industry. The industry mentors were helpful and they provided me with resources for my projects, and I’ve stayed in contact with some of them.

“I was lucky in my fourth year that my new lecturer was from Peter Mac" she says of her honours project with her lecturer at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre. "I signed on my project with her and the research team. The project was looking at the effects of radiation on titanium implants in cancer patients.

“All the people at Peter Mac were really friendly. I even got nicknamed Titanium Girl because of my research on titanium. I spent many hours in the research labs on the top floors, and we also had a lot of late nights. We would use the radiation machines after the patients had left, usually around 9pm, and sometimes we were up until 3am finishing our experiments and getting the results I needed for my project.”

The Women@RMIT mentor program was also helpful for Sajani in determining what shape her career could take.

“I had a few doubts about my career path so I was lucky to get a mentor who had great words of wisdom and was a fellow woman in engineering. We set out my five and ten year goals, nutted out the skills I might be lacking and worked on improving my employability skills.”

What’s next for Sajani

From biomedical engineering to management, Sajani’s passion for helping people is leading to a rewarding career.

Sajani was the only student from her high school friendship group to come to RMIT, but she forged friendships in her first year that are still strong today.

“Going into my first year math class I only knew one person. We didn’t know each other that well but we’ve grown to be the best of friends. With all the friends I met in my undergrad course, we’ve gone through all the highs and lows together, and a lot of group work. It’s been amazing to meet new people.”

Getting actively involved with RMIT life through volunteering, internships and mentoring made Sajani’s experience on campus even more rewarding.

“I was Vice President of the Biomedical Engineering Student Society. We organised fun events for the students like social barbecues, and organised industry professionals to come in and talk to us. I also did other volunteering with student ambassadors and SLAMs (Student Learning Advisor Mentors).

“Through my volunteering I was recommended for a job on campus. I really enjoy helping fellow students and getting to meet diverse and friendly people from different cultures, backgrounds and ages, that I wouldn't have met otherwise. It’s further consolidated my commitment to helping people in my career.”

After she graduates, Sajani is looking at being a management consultant to help build sustainable and competitive organisations, start-ups and businesses in Engineering.

“What’s next for me is securing my final year research project with industry. After I finish my Masters next year I’m aiming to get a job in consulting where I can continue to help people.”

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