Being the Voice
“Mechanical engineering is more about the brains than about the physical strength” my father said, when I was unsure of whether I would be able to succeed as a mechanical engineer. This was nearly 21 years ago. But his message stayed with me and is applicable even now in many life situations!
I grew and evolved in a chaotic/demanding world dominated by men, where one had to take extra efforts and move out of the comfort zone to be heard! We were just 9 girls in mechanical stream back then. In 2004, I joined thyssenkrupp, an organization with mostly male colleagues. Being a quiet girl, I believed that my work should speak volumes instead of me. But over a period of time, I have come to realize that one also needs to be vocal about what one feels. It gives the other person a chance to understand your perspective and note your concerns, agreements or otherwise.
Joining thyssenkrupp turned out to be the right choice. With engineering at its core, its international standing and its presence in the chemical industry were sufficient parameters to decide my choice. In my department and my immediate work environment, I felt the push and the motivation to be a specialist. Differences melt, time is well spent while you dedicate yourself to any subject. Slowly and steadily I went from strength to strength. This company became my identity and my self-respect. I take away many lessons. I know I am striving to be the best, and that will take years of hard work and perseverance from me. Most importantly it has provided me the space to beautifully deal with my personal life. As a mother and a wife, I am able to handle many demands made of me effortlessly.
thyssenkrupp gave me the context to express myself through work over these 17 years. I am a different, evolved and a confident person now. What more could a shy and introvert girl ask for.
As years passed by chasing technical expertise, I had matured/grown in my capabilities. I was consistently challenged by clients, always chasing impossible deadlines, being aware of the technical expertise demanded out of me, but my grit never allowed me to give up. And there I was, an engineer in a man’s world and equally good too. Once work takes over, gender is not in the equation. The organization never made it obvious that I was a woman and gave me the platform to outperform. Project after project, deadline after deadline, technical complexity and more.
Along with being a mechanical engineer, on a personal front, I am also a mother, a wife, a daughter and a friend. This adds further depth and layers to my personality. I am very happy to raise Shlok, my 5-year-old son, with gender conversations that put them in the correct perspective. It is quite important for me the values Shlok picks up from us. He was excited to watch women’s boxing and weight lifting in the Olympics and was awed that they can be strong and put up a tough fight. Gender equality wins everyday through such small instances. When my husband helps me with the household chores, erstwhile considered a woman’s domain, equality wins again and thrives to see another good day! It is the upbringing that we need to modify and make it a way of life as no leadership program can aid us.
I am proud to be an individual who can balance multiple roles. I am proud of where I have come in my journey, learning along the way. I love to be self-reliant, to be able to take my decisions, and respected for the work I do. These are my non-negotiables. Then, it is irrelevant what gender you belong to.