Committed doing things differently
Q. Tell us about your role and job profile at your company.
I am the Founder of ‘FutureSkills Consultants’ – which is a training, mentoring and project consultancy company. I play the role of Trainer, Consultant and Mentor as a freelance professional. I am responsible for all the aspects of running my company including branding and promotion and most importantly, maintaining quality of my customized training programs and keeping abreast with the technology developments. I have developed and executed training programs in Industry 4.0, IoT, data science, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, electric vehicles, CNC SPM development, leadership development, to name a few.
Once a woman starts taking decisions and delivers results, people start respecting and supporting. With their dedication and efforts, women today are showcasing success or decision making isn’t gender specific
Q. What made you choose a career in providing training and consultancy in technologies of tomorrow (IoT, Automation, Robotics, Industry 4,0) for manufacturing industry?
I started my career in a machine tool manufacturing company after graduating from one of the prestigious engineering colleges. I have always dreamt of doing things differently and life gave me these opportunities! I was deeply involved in the design and development of CNC machine tools and automation systems.
While working, I realized that education imparted in institutions needs to be complemented by several more skills, to be ‘Industry ready’. Since the technology changes at a very fast pace, one needs to understand and get updated on the Future Skills required for professionals working on the shop floor right up to the top management.
Future skills are the blend of soft skills and the technology or hard skills. In any manufacturing set up a clear understanding of people interaction, process knowledge and product specifications are the key factors. Continuous learning and also unlearning the obsolete is a challenge. Industry 4.0 –Digital transformation has and will continue to influence every aspect of business, i.e., People, processes and products.
I also had the opportunity to work with engineering institutions where I chose to play very versatile role as a teacher and consultant to ensure industry contacts and updates. I chose this to ensure full support to my growing daughters, and proud to say that they are post graduates from reputed global universities and distinguished professionals today.
As a teacher I always remembered that I was recognized with the “Best Student of the University” award for being an all-rounder excelling in sports, vocal music, debates and elocution, while being a distinguished meritorious student. I felt responsible and also very passionate about bringing out the best out of my students, faculties and team members in industry and to influence and empower them.
While working with Institutes at undergraduate and post graduate levels and in the industry in CNC manufacturing and automation I kept the background of the slogan “Industry ready & Future ready” live, grabbed the opportunity and made the most of it. When I see my students and team members climb high, I realize that I am a King maker.
Experience of 40 years in academia, industry and international projects gave a focus on the need of training, development and mentoring. I realized the need for skills development for students, faculties and corporate professionals, and chose to lead by example.
Q. Did you face any difficulty in coping in the industry (due to lesser women employees)? If yes, then please share anecdotes and your experiences.
Sadly yes! I belong to the era when there were only two girls studying in engineering college out of a batch of 60. I started my career as a trainee engineer, in a very male dominated culture and used to be the only woman on the shop floor. But I must mention that I was very determined to work in manufacturing industry “as I wanted to do things differently.”
In manufacturing industry, design engineer has to be an active member of shop floor activities and processes. It was quite challenging. But I would like to mention that once you start taking decisions and start showing results, people start respecting and supporting. Although, at senior and mid-level positions, many came from traditional mind sets, so for them to take or accept decisions from a woman wasn’t easy. But my dedication and efforts made them realize that success or decision making isn’t gender specific. And had many good international projects opportunities as rewards.
Q. In your opinion, why only few women manage to climb the seniority ladder? What are the key barriers affecting career progression of women?
Attitude. The way you look at the things. I think it is about giving your 100% when the opportunity knocks your door and taking more responsibility and continuous self-development, maintaining the intellectual and emotional balance. Without any pride and prejudice! If one has a bigger goal and can introspect and believe in one’s capabilities and is ready to adapt, climbing the seniority ladder is not difficult. It happens.
The mantra is believing in yourself, work hard, and don’t lose the focus. Accept the challenges because those are the opportunities.
Q. What initiatives can we take to encourage more women to join the industry?
I think, gone are the days when candidates were rejected because you are a girl (as it happened then in my era). Many industries now declare and support women professionals in India and all over the globe. They are also promising equal opportunities, pay and growth, and also flexible working hours. Although the number of women engineers in industry is less, the industry needs to create awareness for the facilities available for women engineers, including equal opportunity, safety, growth and development, HR initiatives for maternity benefits, child development, work life balance, etc., at the campus recruitment sessions.
Q. What advice would you give to women to be successful in the industry?
Yes definitely, a very simple strategy: –
- Believe in yourself
- Develop a correct attitude
- Have a bigger goal
- Continual self-development
- Hard work
- Give your 100% with positive attitude and conviction.