Women Achievers – Soujanya Veguru, Cummins India

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1. Could you tell us something about your professional achievements and career progression?

I started my professional career with Cummins 15 years back, in the production department immediately after my graduation in Mechanical Engineering. I have transitioned from supply chain and moved to Corporate Social Responsibility about seven years back and I am now leading the Environmental vertical and strategic initiatives – Cummins Powers Women and Monsoon Resilient Maharashtra. I feel fortunate for the opportunities given by Cummins to take up varied and diverse roles and providing an environment that enabled me to bring my best to each role.

Some of my professional achievements include the Star Performer Award 2009, 2010, Cummins’ sponsored MBA program – IIM 2012-13, Cummins Women’s Achievers’ Award 2017, and multiple global and Chairman’s Impact Awards for the community projects since 2016.

2. What are the attributes that helped you to reach where you are in your career?

Throughout my career, I have strongly held onto my attributes of being dependable, caring, creative, and committed.

3. How far have you succeeded in challenging the stereotypes?

Being one of the first women engineers on the shop floor in an all-men manufacturing facility at Daman, I would say I was able to successfully challenge the stereotype that “Women Can’t Lead in Manufacturing” or “Women cannot handle high-pressure situations”.

4. In both essential and digital functions, women suffered the repercussions of the economic and social effects of the pandemic. Your comments.

Being part of the Corporate Responsibility space, I have been exposed to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on girls and women. Be it in the space of education where fewer girls than boys have access to digital devices to attend online classes since schools were shut. Child Marriage, loss of income/jobs have pushed families to get their girls married earlier, increased instances of child marriages have also been reported. Due to lack of opportunities and income loss, women have been pressured to take up caring for families and household chores due to lockdowns at the cost of their jobs, with very few returning to work. According to the World Economic Forum, the pandemic has pushed gender parity by a generation.

Cummins is committed to building more prosperous communities during the pandemic. Through our CSR initiatives, we endeavor to address the challenges faced by our communities through:
a. Supporting hospitals, health, and quarantine centers with critical care equipment, and PPE

b. Bolstering income generation and economic resilience of women through Self Help Groups (SHGs) initiatives across villages and urban areas

c. Employee volunteering to ensure children don’t experience learning gaps by conducting weekend online classes

d. Working through our Cummins Powers Women program to enable NGO leaders to advocate for a larger change in laws and policies to impact the lives of millions of girls and women in the space of education, health, gender-based violence, economic empowerment among others.

5. What’s the message you want to send to young working women?

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal”. This line from Churchill’s quote particularly resonates with me. My message to young women is to have this approach – don’t let the fear of failure hold you back from trying new things and exploring different ways of working.