The challenges facing migrant professionals

Menaca Pothalingam has made a life in a new land – twice. Her experiences provide valuable insights and practical tips to achieve change.

Reading time: 4 minutes

Gandhi said: “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.”

As a child growing up in Sri Lanka, I had enjoyed public speaking. The civil war in my home country forced me to migrate to India, where I struggled to fit in with my peers who were educated in English. I saw my confidence decline dramatically.


Later, when I moved from India to the UK, I focused on perfecting my language skills – my fluency as well as my accent. I constantly worried that my knowledge of English would fail me.

Not studying English until university, I knew I lagged behind and wanted to address the issue. I was successful in my professional life, but I was missing an important element – I was much too self-conscious to pitch and present to an audience. Any form of public speaking was off-limits.

A new perspective

For a long time, my accent also held me back from sharing my story with others. Then a couple of years ago, among a group of public speakers, I mentioned my fear and heard a response that changed my whole outlook.

A delegate friend said to me: “If I listen to your audiobook or podcast, I’ll recognise you instantly – that’s such a gift!” 

It had never occurred to me before that my distinctive voice was a part of me. It represented me and meant something to my peers, my friends and my family. When they heard it, they knew it was me.

I wanted to help others and make an impact. This desire transcended all the negative opinions of myself that I had conjured in my mind. Now, I am an award-winning international speaker.

I began to alter my view of the world, which made all possibilities seem attainable

My journey to success has not been without its obstacles; the negative thoughts and moments of self-doubt have often made a reappearance, but I did not let them prevail. 

I began to alter my view of the world, which made all possibilities seem attainable.

My ultimate goal is to help other migrants eradicate the limiting mindset I had possessed; helping them to develop their confidence and reach their full potential.

Here are a few tips I picked up along the way.

  • Being open to new opportunities and not giving up is the key to evolving and succeeding. 
  • Having a clear mind by getting rid of clutter and confusion, creating clarity, makes your goals easier to achieve.
  • Asking for help, accepting reality and being eager to learn will be essential in overcoming fear and achieving your goals.
  • Remember, you are unique. You have your strengths and weaknesses, so stop comparing yourself to others! The road to success can often be steep and challenging, and sometimes specific changes are needed to achieve your goals. 
  • How you value yourself can reflect on how well you can do something. Having a positive mindset and confidence is essential for building self-worth.
  • Setting small, realistic, achievable goals is essential to improve self-belief and reduce disappointment, which will encourage you to develop further. Kaizen is a Japanese productivity philosophy of self-improvement that focuses on continuous improvement by taking ‘baby steps’. It suggests that 1% of daily improvement will have a compound effect on your overall development.
  • Celebrating a goal will help increase your self-value. Setting a few goals with fewer failures is a useful tool.


  • As motivational speaker Jim Rohn says: you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with. Make sure you have people in your life who support, encourage and inspire you to help improve your self-confidence. 
  • Self-care is a quintessential step to success as your physical, mental, emotional and psychological health is linked to your overall wellbeing. A healthy balanced lifestyle will help improve your mental health.
  • Remember, the opinion of others is not representative of the truth; it is just their perception. Knowing, understanding and accepting yourself with your strengths and weaknesses can be empowering. 

Pass it on

I now focus on my goal of sharing my experiences to help others. How I can help improve other people’s lives is more important to me now than looking for external validation and worrying about what others think.

The positive things you do for others is more important than your language or your accent. Overcoming this victim mindset and developing the growth mindset has allowed me to achieve success, and be the catalyst for others’ successes, beyond my imagination. 

If you take one thing away from my story, let it be: “You can change your life by changing your thoughts.”


About the author

Menaca Pothalingam is an entrepreneur, author and resilience strategist. For more information, visit


Learn More →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *