I cannot say that my life has been an ordinary one. From my childhood my parents were very particular that I go to the best school in town. My father made all efforts to help me excel in English. We used to get National Geographic at home in the 80s, Reader’s Digest and several English books. He ensured that we spoke in English when we spoke to him. All this was based on his personal experience where he only started in an English medium school after coming to the city for his under graduation and put in many hours to excel in English. This helped me and my brother excel in English and take up book reading as a hobby.
My mother was instrumental in motivating me to pursue higher education based on her own personal experiences. She went to school with limited guidance. Although she was brilliant and did well in all subjects, she did not pursue higher education since she did not do well in English and lacked the confidence. She wanted her children to excel in their education and be independent, more so her daughter.
In both my anecdotes about my parents and their role in motivating me, it has been around English and communication skills. I completed under graduation in Engineering with a gold medal. I then went on to do my MS in US (in Environmental and in Computer Science). My first job was like any other US immigrants job at that time, starting as a software developer. However, because of my logical analytical skills, my communication skills and my ability to plan and coordinate, I quickly moved into management positions leaving behind most of my colleagues who started with me. As you can see none of the skills mentioned here are related to the technical competence.
These same strengths have helped me enter into the manufacturing sector and successfully grow the company 8 fold in a matter of 4 years. Manufacturing sector is still a man’s field with very few women entering into it. In my experience, I faced fewer challenges working with blue collar workers in this sector than the white collar workers working in the IT sector.
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As with any job, when you enter into it for the first time, you are faced with new challenges, new procedures, new people etc. When you enter into a new field, you are also faced with the challenge of learning the technical aspects. When you have the basic knowledge, logic, and the motivation to work hard, you can learn anything and execute anything successfully. My story has been similar.
When I entered in this field, my husband the Managing Director of Salzgitter Hydraulics Pvt. Ltd. and founder of Salzgitter Lifts Pvt. Ltd. was alongside me. He was instrumental in encouraging me to take on the new challenge. He guided me through all the technical knowledge required. However, a year and a half into my new role, I lost my husband. This did not deter me. My father and I continued to run the company and supported the 100+ families that depended on us. Today Salzgitter stands as one of the top Make in India manufacturing companies in India. Salzgitter Lifts, a Hydraulic Lift manufacturing company is the only hydraulic elevator company providing end to end solutions in the organized sector.
With my personal experience, I can say that there is no man’s job or woman’s job. Any person can do a job that he/she is interested in as long as they put in the hard work and stay focused on the end goal. We as women however continue to face challenges from the society. We are expected to bear children regardless of what our career interests are, take care of the family and meet social norms set by the society. This is irrespective of the fact that you are a career woman like a man and have the same responsibilities as a man outside of your home. There is no simple solution to this. We are a transition generation and will have to continue to manage both responsibilities and lay the path for the next generation. Girls of the next generation will hopefully be given a choice to make their own decisions and are not constrained by the societal pressures.
As a woman who has experienced life in both worlds (East and West), worked in both worlds, experienced setbacks, gender bias, societal pressures etc. I think women are created stronger than men. We have the ability to withstand many pressures. We have the ability and resilience to adapt to any situation. We have the ability to nurture. We have the intelligence to manage and execute anything that we set our mind to.
Not everybody is as fortunate as I was. I was lucky to have parents who gave me the education and who had a vision of where they wanted to see their daughter. I was lucky to have a husband who encouraged me to do anything I was interested in. As a 21st century woman, I hope to see many more women coming into unconventional fields without inhibitions. I also hope to give opportunity to the less fortunate girls by educating them and giving them the freedom to choose their own careers. I am proud to say that Salzgitter todayemployees more women employees in this type of industry in all departments than any other in this area. My ambition is to have atleast 50% women in Salzgitter Lifts working in Finance, Stores, Operating machines, Marketing, Planning etc.