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Trading Places: Alum's Work Travels Lead Home

Written by Nicholas Fustor
12/6/2016

Purasisi Jinadasa '03

The inside of a live trading room isn’t for the faint of heart. With live feeds of stocks prices whizzing by while dozens of people shout over each other, things can go by in a blur. For Purasisi Jinadasa ’03, a trading room is the opposite of where he envisioned himself working.

Born in Sri Lanka, Jinadasa hoped to travel the world from an early age and had aspirations to work in hotel management. 

“As a child, I enjoyed traveling the world and staying at unique hotel properties, and it fascinated me that the hotel managers would be able to live and work in such interesting environments,” he says.

When he arrived at Ithaca College, however, his trading room passion was stoked. A finance course held in the college’s Center for Trading and Analysis of Financial Instruments sparked Jinadasa’s interest, and his aspirations quickly changed.

“I recall taking a finance course where we had to use the trading room to structure a portfolio and monitor performance over the course period, and I found the whole exercise very stimulating,” he says. “I realized it was something I would enjoy doing on a daily basis.”

Outside of the classroom, Jinadasa said his time at Ithaca as an international student was overwhelmingly positive.

“I met some of the most interesting people in my life and shared experiences of a lifetime,” he says. “I was invited into homes over Thanksgiving and other holidays and was able to experience American warmth and hospitality. I was definitely sad to part ways with my friends and leave Ithaca after graduating.”

More adventure was in store for Jinadasa following graduation. He first made his way to Switzerland in hopes of entering the financial industry, but eventually found work for an investment research firm based in his native Sri Lanka, where he worked as an offshore analyst in San Francisco. After a few years, he returned to Switzerland and found work in the budgeting department at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He then decided to earn his MBA at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Ontario. Soon after, he began a new venture in the fashion industry.

“During my final year at Schulich in May 2009, a couple of friends and I decided to start our own business – a custom menswear company, called IM-Label,” Jinadasa says. “We traveled to Hong Kong to concretize operations and successfully opened five stores around the Greater Toronto Area, with our flagship store at the heart of Toronto’s financial district.”

After a few years, Jinadasa decided to take a step back from his company and went to work for a firm in Toronto focused on assessing the sustainability of other businesses. That position sent him to work in Amsterdam, where he stayed for a few years.

Now, more than thirteen years after graduating, Jinadasa is the Chief Strategy Officer at CAL, a leading investment bank in Sri Lanka. He was offered the position by one of the partners at CAL, and was intrigued by the newfound financial freedom in Sri Lanka.

“I decided that this job would place me at the heart of the new growth phase, full of excitement and opportunity,” he says.

While he isn’t inside a live trade room, Jinadasa’s role as the Chief Strategy Officer is just as intense. He is responsible for managing a team of 10 employees, developing projections for the company, and working with foreign clients.

“When I started at CAL, I realized that there is so much opportunity for forward thinking individuals to make a difference and gain sustainably from the work we do,” he says.



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