‘Women have always been underestimated’
Neena Nair, Asst Vice President (Projects), Chemtrols Industries Pvt Ltd, Mumbai.
Chemtrols Industries Pvt Ltd
Process analytics, environment monitoring, process automation, steam conditioning solutions and electricity distribution management.
Ms Neena Nair holds Bachelor’s in Engineering degree in Electronics from Aurangabad University. She has nearly 25 years of experience in Engineering Industries and has adorned various caps in her career thus far: in Production, Marketing and Project Management.
How adventurous has the journey to success been so far?
Until the early 20th century, the Engineering industry was primarily male dominated. Nevertheless, during my schooling years, I had already made up my mind to become an engineer. Though my parents supported my decision to pursue a career in engineering, it was really a challenging and difficult period to overcome society’s typical mindset. In college with only 6 girls and rest all boys, times were really tough but it taught me valuable lessons, especially to be self-reliant and have faith in myself irrespective of the environment. Lessons learnt during those tough times continue to support and inspire me to aim higher even to this day.
I started my career as a Junior Production Engineer – the only lady among the company’s engineers. But never once did I look back and in spite of all the challenges, I went ahead with all my sincerity and belief in myself. My family and a few supportive managers during my stints at various organisations always kept me motivated to outperform myself each day.
My role models include our late Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi and PepsiCo CEO, Mrs Indira Nooyi. I have always kept in mind the well-known saying – “Success comes to who are willing to take risks and are ready to sacrifice all to achieve one’s goals”. The challenges that I face day to day spur me to spread my wings higher.
For a country where women have joined the workforce decades ago, there are few in leadership positions. What are the possible reasons?
I believe the primary reason could be attributed to the fact that women have always been underestimated and challenged by the inequality in pay as well as limited opportunities offered at the workplace. Though nowadays we see career opportunities for women opening up, nevertheless, they are still at a disadvantage compared to men because of sacrifices necessary for motherhood and family responsibilities. Women are viewed as the primary caregiver for raising a family to this day. I believe, not just in India but even on a global scale. The society’s mindset is slowly changing for the better and consequently we are seeing more women entering the corridors of power – the so-called “C-Suite”.
There is always a glass ceiling and it is not always gender-based. But how difficult is it for a woman to enter the corner office?
The so-called glass ceiling exists only in the mind. Actually, the ceiling is one’s own capacity. It’s no longer unthinkable to finally make it to the “Corner Office”. If organisations recognise and support deserving women, I’m sure we would soon see more women in the “C-Suite”. Companies should have policies in place for women, like flexi-careers and maternity transitions, encouraging sponsorship of talented women, etc.
In recent years we have had some successful cases of women CEOs in banking/Finance, but not many in engineering. Will this change in the coming years?
Yes indeed and we have seen recently a few successful cases of women CEOs in Banking/Finance industry. Times have really changed now. Women’s strength in Engineering Industries has increased and we will soon see successful women CEOs in engineering organisations as well!!!
Final question, do successful women deliberately avoid the limelight?
Of course not!!! If the goals have always been to aim higher, then hard work and sincerity automatically put you in the limelight.
(This is part of a series of interviews conducted by Industrial Automation on the eve of the International Women’s Day 2018, to celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs and achievers in the industrial automation domain)
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