August 21, 2007Her job: General Manager, Pune, India
Describe what you do in your current work situation?
I am the boss of chemical engineers who are designing chemical plants.
Why did you choose engineering?
I chose engineering and chemical engineering in particular because I wanted to take a less trodden path, and I wanted to prove that women are in no way less than men even in so called "male-dominated professions" of engineering. Secondly, during my days in school in India only top-scorers on entrance exams were allowed to study chemical engineering so it was very prestigious.
Where did you go to school and what degree(s) do you have?
I went to Engineering School in Hyderabad, India. I have a B.Tech. degree in chemical engineering
What kinds of activities have typically been part of your work?
I have been working on research and development, pilot plant scale-up, trouble-shooting, and process design.
What do you like best about being an engineer?
The self esteem you get after solving a tough problem and your gender doesn't matter
Which of your career accomplishments are you proudest of?
Constantly topping my class in primary, secondary education and topping the merit list in the board exam. Also, meeting challenges in the area of process design to manage hazardous waste, difficult chemical reactions and scaling up from micrograms to tonnes
What challenges have you met and conquered in your pursuit of an engineering career?
The first challenge was to get recognized and accepted as an equal engineer to my male colleagues. People in industry were not very comfortable hiring a lady chemical engineer. After getting hired I had to prove my worth in terms of technical competence which meant I needed to be the best in the lot and not just one of the best candidates.
Please tell us a little about your family.
My family is small, just me, my husband and one daughter. My husband is also a chemical engineer, and my daughter is a computer engineer pursuing her master’s degree at USC in Los Angeles, CA.
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term (10+ years) goals?
My short-term goals are to strengthen the process engineering department in my company. My long-term goals are to give back to the educational institution the knowledge I have gained in this field by way of guiding and coaching engineering undergraduates.
What (or who) had/has the greatest influence on your life choices?
My desire to excel in anything and everything has been the fuelling factor for me. Motivation was from within.
What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in engineering?
Try to be "the best" and not "one of the best".
Describe something about your life outside of work: your hobbies, or perhaps a favorite book.
I am interested in all creative artistic works like paintings, embroidery, knitting, and interior design. I also pursue other hobbies and am interested in spiritual books and lectures.