Bhashini Pathirana

Came from
Sri Lanka
Current position
Commercial Insights Analyst
Company

Having worked in her home country of Sri Lanka within the financial sector, Bhashini was looking to develop her career by studying and working abroad. She decided on Lithuania, and with studies at the local business school ISM now under her belt, she’s settling into an exciting role at Adform, a globally renowned DSP provider with a large presence in Vilnius.

The best thing for those of us from non-EU countries is the ease of travelling within Europe and other Schengen countries while living in Lithuania.

What brought you to Lithuania?

As an analyst by profession, when I wanted to study abroad, I did a comprehensive analysis of the places I could potentially go to. I also looked at different components since I’ve travelled quite a lot and had some expectations and ideas about what’s important. I’ve visited quite a few cities in Europe, and I know what the quality of life is, what expenses there might be, and in general what you will need in order to live and study in a foreign country. Although I hadn’t been to Lithuania before, my parents have visited here once before and I received good feedback from them about the country as well. I realised that Lithuania is a really good country to live in and the quality of education is on par with the rest of Europe as well. It’s also very cost-effective to live here. And of course, there’s also the fact that it’s possible to find work in an international company afterwards. I think it’s safe to say that all this combined ultimately led me to Vilnius. 

How was the relocation experience?

Obviously, it was a big decision. Although I’ve travelled, I haven’t really lived outside of Colombo, Sri Lanka, away from family for so long. Considering that, for me to just pack up and leave was a big decision. But I think Vilnius in general has been welcoming. And it was very easy for me to settle down. One reason is that it’s a compact city. Everything is either within walking range or you can just hop on a bus and reach your destination. It was very easy for me to commute around the city, find my way, and figure out my bearings.

When I first moved here it was in the middle of a real estate boom, and it wasn’t that easy to find accommodation, but then I saw that quite a few co-living spaces starting to pop up. This was a bit of a lucky break for me as it allowed me to interact with other foreigners, as most of these spaces had a community that you could network with.  I can’t say overall that it’s been that difficult. It also helped, of course, that I was a student for my first years here. I was easily able to build this group of friends, mostly Lithuanians by the way, through my studies at ISM.  And then, I had my husband come and join me after I had settled in. Now, I have someone to share my new experiences with.

What about the more administrative stuff, like visa’s etc.

Getting the student visa was a little bit of a headache for me because I had to liaise with the Lithuanian embassy in India for visas. This is because there is no direct application service available in Sri Lanka.  But to be honest, if you have a Lithuanian embassy in your own country I feel like it’d be much quicker. Other than the longer timelines, everything else was quite straightforward. The embassy was always very communicative and replied to my emails promptly and I had most of my doubts and questions cleared. And in Vilnius, affairs at the immigration office were quite fast in my case. The trick I think is to be well prepared. If I had any questions about documentation or what I should bring, I always made sure that by the time the appointment date came, I had everything planned out. I also never had issues pertaining to the language as both the Embassy and the immigration services communicated with me in English. Of course, it took a bit of time to create a rhythm in our communication, but it wasn’t difficult.

So what about the working culture? Is it different from what you are used to in Sri Lanka?

There is a bit of a difference but I don’t feel it so much because I already had experience working closely with Europeans throughout my career. But if I were to pick one, it’s the straightforwardness that’s most different.  In Sri Lanka, we are a little bit more reserved, when we have questions or when we want to give a comment, we always think, should we say this? But here, it’s kind of like the other way around. And by here, I mean, I think Europe in general is like that. You tend to be very direct, say what you want irrespective of whether it’s something good or bad, and, you know, no hard feelings afterwards.

So, you have an international team?

You could say that! I’m Sri Lankan, my immediate colleague is in London, most of the executive leadership that we work with is spread globally and then of course my manager here is Lithuanian so it’s a real global team we have here.   

Was it easier for you to fit in because you’d been a student at ISM (the main business school in Vilnius)?

Yes, I think so. Because I came here as a student it helped quite a lot to settle in. Mostly because you’re in a classroom with a lot of people for about one and a half years, you tend to make good friends and also understand the culture and how socializing and networking work in Vilnius. When it came to fitting in, it was just a matter of getting used to the company and my new colleagues. So it wasn’t that hard, I guess, for me to transition from being a student to being a colleague.

So, turning to your job again. Can you tell me a bit about your role, and your feelings about the work/life balance here?

I’m working as a Commercial Insights Analyst who supports the execution of the commercial strategy at Adform by providing data-driven analytics on business performance and growth. So from analysing sales, and new/ existing business performance across products, regions, and commercial KPIs to assessing market trends, generating reports, and ensuring that our progress is communicated across the right channels and stakeholders fall under my purview of work. 

What’s great here is the work/life balance. You have the flexibility to dictate how you would like to structure your day, be it working from home, going to the office, or having a hybrid routine. And most importantly, after 5/6pm, you’re done with work. There is no habit of taking your work home with you. I like this strict boundary between work and your personal time and the fact that it also stretches to taking vacations and time off. It gives me the peace of mind to focus on my hobbies and other interests.

So what do you do in your spare time?

Both my husband and I are avid travellers which means that every long weekend we get, we like to get out of Vilnius. The best thing for those of us from non-EU countries is the ease of travelling within Europe and other Schengen countries while living in Lithuania. We also started travelling within Lithuania just this year. We’ve ticked Klaipeda, Nida, and the lovely seaside off our bucket list so far but of course, we want to explore the forests, lakes, and more of the countryside as well.

Finally, is there anything special you’d like to share about your new home, Vilnius?

I haven’t seen a capital city with this much greenery, especially in the city centre itself. To me, this is amazing because you get to see all four seasons change right in front of you. All in all, to me, Vilnius feels comfortable. If you enjoy taking things slow, exploring nature, and having flexibility, you will come to love this city as much as I did.