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Student story

Neranga Jayaweera

20 July 2023

"I have always had a desire to be an entrepreneur and run my own business..."


Bachelor of Commerce in Management, and Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Systems Accountant, Te Ope Kātua o Aotearoa | New Zealand Defence Force

"I have always had a desire to be an entrepreneur and run my own business," says Neranga, who came to Christchurch from Sri Lanka to take on a triple major Commerce degree. 

"Seeing so many companies expand globally and grow into bigger and better organisations... I just can't wait to be a part of it. Being my own boss is still a few years away so first I plan to work in business consulting. I also have a dream to one day hold a pilot"s licence, so my ultimate goal is to be an entrepreneur and pilot."

Neranga won the UC College of Business and Economics and Lyceum International School Sri Lanka Scholarship which, by covering his tuition fees, made overseas study possible. He felt his degree was preparing him well for his business career. 

"Not only did I learn all the applicable theory, but the degree also gave practical experience through team projects, foreign tours, industry related articles, examples and speakers, simulation games, leadership and presentation skills. 

"The personalities of our lecturers make study interesting, and their availability to help makes it easier. The workload was just right and allowed me time to get involved in extracurricular activities."

Neranga certainly kept himself busy outside lectures. He was part of a team developing a new, innovative product and vying for the annual $85k entré Challenge, and represented UC in the SDS business case competition. He was also later Chief Operating Officer (COO) for entré, helping students foster their business ideas.

He is also a talented sportsman, having picked up several awards at high school, and was the youngest member of the Heathcote Cricket Club's Senior XI. Cricket has provided a good way for him to settle into New Zealand life.

"I've been a fan of the Black Caps for a long time and cricket did fuel my desire to visit New Zealand," he says. "People at UC and outside have been friendly and generous. One of many examples of this is my friend Darren Booth from the Heathcote Cricket Club, who has even lent me a car while I was here, and I was really thankful for that.’ 

Neranga likes to get out and see more of his host country. 

"Coming from a small, beautiful village in Sri Lanka, nature is something I find unbelievably amazing. I have travelled a lot around New Zealand and the scenic beauty is really breath taking. In the holidays I have gone fishing in the Marlborough Sounds, hiking, and skiing at Mount Hutt."

He has also had the opportunity to travel to China, having been selected to take the MGMT228 course which is a study tour of the country. 

"On the tour we had to conduct English speaking classes for Chinese students and I was awarded one of seven best teacher awards voted for by the Chinese students. It was a highlight of my university career."

When he started at UC, Neranga opted to live in university accommodation, first at University Hall and then Ilam Apartments, which gave him a taste of flat-sharing. 

He later returned to University Hall as a Senior Residential Assistant for two years, and also had a part-time job as a caterer at Ilam Apartments for the 500-plus students during study. 

"My flatting experience was really awesome, and I have made friends and connections I believe will last a lifetime," he says.

Neranga is keen to point out that he appreciates people"s kindness, without which moving to New Zealand "wouldn't have been the same". He says, "I am grateful to my parents, teachers and friends who have always stood by me and helped me reach where I am today. I"d also like to thank UC, the lecturers and tutors for the outstanding jobs they perform."

Since graduating, Neranga has put his degree to use as a Finance Administrator for Massey University in Wellington, and is currently a Systems Accountant with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

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