Alumni profile - Prajith Rakunathan
I remember when I was younger saying to my friends whilst playing several hours of Fifa and Halo on my Xbox that it would be so cool to work for the likes of a Microsoft. I look back now and that still hasn’t changed, technology is so engrained in our lives and being involved in a company that is on the bleeding edge keeps me on my toes.
What did you study at Queen Mary and what are you doing now? I studied Computer Science whilst at Queen Mary and thoroughly enjoyed the three years I was there. Five years on from graduating, I am completing my fourth year at Microsoft working in our sales organization selling Microsoft Azure and our Data and Artificial Intelligence offerings to our enterprise customers.
Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary? I chose Queen Mary because it was a reputed university in the heart of London with a unique Computer Science degree. The modules offered a range of both technical and soft skill-based learning which was what I was looking for in a course. Also, the location of the campus was really appealing to me as it was centred in an up and coming part of London which at the time recently benefited from the 2012 Olympics in London.
How did your time and study at Queen Mary help your career and development? My time at Queen Mary really helped me grow up as an individual but also provided me with the skills and learning to get a fast start in my career. As valuable as the technical skills I picked up were, the competencies I developed whilst teaching Computer Science at a local high school or building my android app for my final year project are things that have stuck with me to this day.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? Don’t be taken aback by any failures! My plan originally was to do Dentistry at university and apparently life had other plans for me as I missed out on the grades to do so. This wasn’t easy to take especially with my friends knowing what university they were going to go to and having their plans all sorted. However, after discussing my next steps with my parents and what I should look to do, my dad suggested Computer Science as an alternative based on my interests and the fact that it was a field where career prospects were booming. I did some thinking and eventually made the decision to pursue the degree and I have not looked back since.
Why is it exciting to do what you do? I get to speak to multiple different stakeholders from CIO’s to front line staff from a range of well-known organizations and help them solve business problems that affect our day to day experiences. Technology is at the core of our everyday lives and during Covid-19 I have had the opportunity to support several household names in coping with the new normal and for me this has been really satisfying.
In terms of where my passion for tech came from, I remember when I was younger saying to my friends whilst playing several hours of Fifa and Halo on my Xbox that it would be so cool to work for the likes of a Microsoft. I look back now and that still hasn’t changed, technology is so engrained in our lives and being involved in a company that is on the bleeding edge keeps me on my toes. I am very excited to see what the future holds in terms of technology and my career.
What was so special about your time at Queen Mary? The friends I made, the experiences I got to be involved in and the learnings I have been able to take away mean Queen Mary will always be very close to my heart. Also, how can I not mention Drapers nights?!
In terms of memorable moments, one of the stories I still share to this day was when I had the opportunity to teach Computer Science at a local high school. It was thoroughly enjoyable and the idea of giving back to the younger generation is something I try to do even to this day. I’m actively involved in mentoring current students and graduates as well as trying to be more of an active mentor in the BAME community where I believe there is so much untapped talent.
Do you have any role models that you look up to, both inside and outside of your field? I look at my upbringing and my parents who were really hard working themselves. They were immigrants who moved over from Sri Lanka more than 20 years ago to escape the civil war. They had to create a life for themselves in completely new surroundings and I think that is truly admirable. So as cheesy as it sounds, they are the best role models I could possibly have!