Born in Sri Lanka, Jayam Rutnam attended St. Joseph’s College, Pembroke Academy, the Polytechnic in Colombo and the Institute of Charted Shipbrokers in London.
In 1963, he migrated to the United States of America and worked extensively with the first immigrants from Sri Lanka to establish an association for Ceylonese migrants. In 1970, with the advice of the Ambssador of Sri Lanka to USA, Mr. Neville Kanekeratne; Jayam Rutnam worked with eight person committee to draft a constitution and to organize an election for an organization to serve the needs of the Sri Lankan expatriates. In 1971, the Ceylon America Association was launched and later incorporated in 1973.
Jayam Rutnam served as President of the Ceylon America Association from 1971 to 1973. He also formed the Ceylonese Chamber of Commerce and promoted trade between Ceylon and U.S.A. Jayam Rutnam hosted a large number of events to promote tourism and investment in Sri Lanka. Mattel Toys and Star Kist Tuna were two large corporations that were on the verge of opening manufacturing plants and canneries in Sri Lanka when civil unrest broke out and forced the cancellation of these two large projects.