Hirani Hettihewage

5 mins read

A native of Sri Lanka’s hilltop capital, Kandy, Hirani is a young accountant at Cocoon Maldives. She has a background in business management from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She’s soft spoken but smiles easily, and she has a passion for travelling. Hotel Insider sits down with her and talks, among other things, about how she got into accounting, what it’s like working at Cocoon, and what profession she’d take up if she could switch careers. 

Hotel Insider: What were your dreams when you were younger? As a child? 

Hirani: [laughs] I wanted to travel around the world. I think everyone’s dreams at that age is kind of similar. But moving around was part of my dream, even as a child.  

Hotel Insider: Did you cut your teeth in hospitality here at Cocoon? 

Hirani: I’ve had experience in hospitality before. I used to work at Sigiriya Village Hotels back home. I worked at the head office though, in Colombo. It was a public limited company so we were handling other hotel’s accounts as well.

Hotel Insider: Did you like it there?

Hirani: It was a busy place [laughs].

Hotel Insider: Tell us how you got into accounting. 

Hirani: I studied commerce for my A-Levels. Then I did a bachelor of commerce degree at university, specialising in accounting. And in the meantime, I also completed a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) course as a professional qualification.  

Hotel Insider: Why we ask is because it’s not too common to see women in accounting positions. At least, here in the Maldives. 

Hirani: [laughs] It’s not so rare back home. There are lots of us.  

Hotel Insider: How did you hear about Cocoon? What led you to the Maldives?

Hirani: I saw an ad on Top Jobs, a Sri Lankan job network. I really wanted to travel abroad, to work in a different place with a different culture so I applied. My family didn’t really take it very well, moving to a different country. But they were reasonable and understood that I needed the experience for my future, to grow as a person. So here I am.

Hotel Insider: What’s it like working here?

Hirani: It’s completely different from Sri Lanka. We have to deal with so many nationalities, so that’s quite an experience in itself. And a totally different environment from Sri Lanka. You’re here on an island for the most part, you have to adapt to it, it’s worlds apart from living in a city. 

Hotel Insider: What’s best about working at Cocoon?

Hirani: Well, you get to know a lot of standards, a lot of practices, so for my career it’s really advantageous. It’s different from how we do things in Sri Lanka. The main thing is that I get to experience the different sorts of practices and adapt to them.

Hotel Insider: What kind of practices?

Hirani: Like, controls we have over the operation and accounting software. They use very standard software here so being exposed to them is really good for me.

Hotel Insider: If you weren’t an accountant, what would you be?

Hirani: [laughs] A lawyer. I really wanted to become a lawyer but my father insisted that I become an accountant. 

Hotel Insider: Why, was your father an accountant?

Hirani: He was actually a tour guide, but for some reason he had his mind set on me becoming an accountant. Initially I didn’t like it but I was good with numbers and I sort of grew into my role. [laughs].

Hotel Insider: So, where do you see yourself a few years from now? What’s next?

Hirani: Well, my main goal is to be a financial controller, so, that’s what I’m working towards, what I’m expecting. Working in different companies gives me a better idea of how things are done and it will bring me closer to my goal.   

Hotel Insider: You don’t plan to stay here for long?

Hirani:  [laughs] Well, I’m here for the next couple of years.