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If Sheridan Perumal invites you to a backyard barbecue, you better go hungry.
His cookouts aren’t limited to hamburgers and hotdogs, but instead are patterned after the elaborate South African events he fondly remembers as a child. In his native land, a traditional “braai” includes a smorgasbord of lamb, pork, beef, seafood, sausages and more, marinated and grilled to perfection over a wood-fired grill. The best part, he said, is sharing the feast with family and friends.
“Some of my best times are being at home with good people, good food, good company,” he said.
Now Accounting & Budget Manager for the City of Bristol, Sheridan grew up in Durban, a large coastal city in South Africa, with his parents, two siblings, and a group of friends he has known most of his life. He had never traveled out of the country until 2016 when Suvarshni – who he met in “grade one” and was his girlfriend at the time – received a job transfer to East Tennessee.
“I first checked where East Tennessee was,” Sheridan said. “We made the decision to come together.”
They were married in July 2016 and moved to the United States in September, leaving their families for the first time to begin their life as husband and wife in a new country, with new jobs, and much to learn. Something as simple as preparing a meal together was a new experience for them, he said, and “it was a real growing up stage for us.”
Armed with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from University of KwaZulu-Natal and experience as an auditor, Sheridan soon landed a job as an accounts receivable specialist for NN, Inc. in Johnson City. He remained there until the company closed its local plant in June 2019, then joined the City of Bristol the following month. He worked as a staff accountant and then senior accountant for the city before his willingness to take on new responsibilities earned him a promotion to his current role, where he is responsible for preparing the City’s annual budget and capital improvement plan.
He credits Finance Director Hollie Verran for “providing a lot of guidance” and city employees in various departments for providing support as he has moved into the challenging role of balancing the city’s annual budget.
When he’s not crunching numbers or creating spreadsheets, Sheridan most enjoys time surrounded by family and friends. He and Suvarshni have traveled back home to South Africa three times since making their home in Tennessee, including an unexpected seven-week visit in 2021. Soon after their plane landed, so did the omicron variant of the coronavirus, he explained.
“The borders were closed, so there was no leaving the country.”
They worked remotely until they could get a flight home. Since then, Sheridan has limited his travels to the U.S., visiting New York, Miami, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Michigan. He’s explored Boone Lake, experienced a NASCAR race, and made room in his home for a 9-month-old English bulldog that Sheridan describes as “an adorable dog, but such a scamp.” He’s tried softball, tennis and pickleball, but hasn’t found a sport he enjoys as much as cricket, rugby, or volleyball, all of which he played as a child.
He's learning to enjoy American food, admitting that he was initially troubled by the hefty portions and excessive salt. Seafood is one of his favorite meals, he said, but a Pal’s hotdog isn’t bad in a pinch.
What does he enjoy most about life in East Tennessee?
The same things that made him happy as a child in Durban – celebrating special occasions, hosting get-togethers, and making memories with those he loves.
Shout out to Sheridan Perumal, a master of municipal budgets who traveled more than 8,000 miles to discover the people and places that make our region a good place to live. He’s another great example of #bristolatwork.