Paving a way for our future women engineers
Posting date:10/1/2020 4:04 PM
In this interview, Sindhu Nair, Manager, Electrical Engineering; Sarika Chattopadhyay, Design Manager, Nuclear New Build and Manisha Dube, Delivery Manager, Infrastructure from India share their incredible journey in engineering #InsideAtkins.
What inspired you to take up engineering?
My father was in the Indian Army and he wanted me to be a doctor in the Armed Forces, but I decided to pursue engineering as I my inclination towards mathematics inspired me to take up engineering.
I chose to do a Bachelors in Engineering - Electrical and Electronics from Government Engineering College, Trichur, Kerala. My passion for engineering brought me to Mumbai, where I pursued Engineering Design and Consultancy Services after the completing my apprenticeship. Here, I got the opportunity to work with reputed companies, and later I completed a master’s degree in operations through distance learning to further advance my career.
I strongly believe that engineering is a great career choice for women, and that they will be able to excel just as with any other career. Today, I am happy to be a mentor to many of my women colleagues who are starting out their careers, and support them with my advice and guidance.
My family mostly comprises of male engineers and female doctors, however I always wanted to do something different. I wanted to break the stereotype and that’s how I ended up on the path of ‘creative engineering,’ i.e. Architecture as my profession of choice. I am very proud to be the first woman architect in my family!
Over the years, I did realize that I have a logical & analytical mind and at the same time, I had an inner urge to keep my creativity alive. This enabled me to achieve several milestones in my career and to advance further, I opted for a master’s in ‘Urban and Regional Planning.’
I had a major inclination towards science which made me focus on applying analytical approaches to offer any solution. Engineering came naturally to me as my biggest aspiration was to design and see those designs, transform into reality. I was also hugely motivated by my brother, who is a Mechanical Engineer.
What are some of the challenges you encountered in your engineering career or your field of work and how did you overcome those?
Earlier, I used to lose opportunities to be seconded to international offices as men were always preferred over women for these assignments. However, times have changed now. There is a wider acknowledgment that such opportunities have a huge role to play to develop the engineering skills for everyone.
One of my fondest memories from the earlier years in my career, is my role as a Lead Engineer. Even though I barely had 2.5 years of experience, I was closely interacting with the client to discuss the scope of work. Opportunities like these helped in instilling confidence during the initial phase of my career.
There is a glaring difference between what you learn in the classrooms and the practical application of it. Some of the common challenges that are usually faced in the engineering field are handling site - dealing with the contractor and workers and managing key stakeholders and clients.
For me, the mantra for success is to keep the client happy whilst establishing harmony with the team. And I achieved this through constant engagement and communication. I would credit my co-workers and my manager – for pushing me to deliver my best through their unceasing faith in me. I am also privileged to work with great firms where individuals are encouraged and motivated during difficult times through robust internal networks and systems.
To me, pursuing one’s ambition is all about maintaining the highest standards of work ethics and believing in your capabilities. In engineering, although some tasks such as smithy, carpentry, working on concrete, surveying fields, roads, riverbanks are physically demanding, there are endless real-life examples of women excelling all of these. I’ve always believed, “If it’s your passion, then these activities would only come across as words to you.”
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Atkins provides a collaborative working environment where talents thrive based on equality. My numerous interactions with various global teams for many Oil & Gas and Petrochemical projects gave me the much-needed exposure to understand the diverse scope and international requirements.
I have been actively involved in developing various global procedures and standards for the company, apart from heading the Electrical and Telecommunication department from the Mumbai office. I have been honoured with the Best Performer Award by the Electrical department in 2013. This was both exciting and humbling to be recognized for the good work.
Atkins gives you an employee- friendly environment and a global work culture that allows you to connect and work closely with your colleagues in the UK & Europe, the Middle East & Africa, the US, and the Asia Pacific regions. It’s my 6th year with Atkins now, and all I can say is that I am proud and content to have devoted these years of my career to the organization.
I would highly recommend our company to others who wish to begin or revive their careers, especially to women, as the organization nurtures talent and encourages them to showcase their strength.
As a professional, the first thing that attracts anyone to a company is the project and the global footprint in the engineering fields. In both these areas, Atkins is the top performer.
In my 23 years of journey in the company, I am fascinated by the career development opportunities one gets here - from allowing the lateral movement within the organization to offering project exposure across the globe. It offers an inclusive and safe environment for all to thrive, helping everyone to give their best and be ahead in the technical and digital future of the company.
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