If you enjoy your work, you are capable of handling any challenge
Published by : Industrial Automation
Swati Jain, Senior Manager – Program Management, Technology R&D & Women in STEM Leader for India, Emerson India.
What prompted you to pursue a career in engineering?
My uncle used to study for Engineering when I was in school. So, I know what engineering was since childhood. I always enjoyed practical learning over theoretical sessions and used to enjoy solving complex math problems. So, I have had that inclination towards STEM since beginning. I still remember when I got selected for engineering, my father said with pride that she will be the first engineer in our family.
Having obtained the qualification, what was the experience in getting a job?
I have been lucky in getting a job. I was among the first five in college who got the job offer from the first company who visited our Campus.
Is a career in engineering more demanding vis-à-vis other options?
Every job in today's situation is very much demanding. It doesn't matter who you are: an engineer, doctor, teacher, entrepreneur, or others. Today's world is very competitive. If you are not true to your work, then there are many others waiting in the queue who are ready to take up the job. So, everyone needs to keep enhancing their skills and be passionate about their jobs. I believe, if you enjoy your work, you are capable of handling any challenge.
Often projects demand stay away from home. How is that experience?
After office, I have meetings with stakeholders almost daily in the evening. Now, everyone in the family has adjusted to this schedule. It is easy to take meetings from home rather than staying late in office because then you also have to deal with late evening traffic. So, it's my choice and I came up with a good plan. I spend time with my family before the meetings start, then my children complete their homework, or play indoor games. Most of the time, we have dinner together. So, I focus on spending quality time with family. I feel this system has made my children more independent and mature.
Have you ever missed a career opportunity or promotion due to gender?
I never felt so. We always follow a robust recruitment and performance management process to ensure the opportunity or promotion is given to the right candidate.
Are workplaces today more sensitive to gender issues than a generation earlier?
Yes, and it is a good indicator. Diversity & Inclusion, Women in STEM (WiSTEM), encouraging more women to contribute in IP & Innovation and many such initiatives are an integral part of our organisation. We are encouraging interested women to take up customer facing roles, working on upskilling them so that they can be ready whenever the opportunity comes. I feel privileged to be a part of the Emerson family.
Is there a glass ceiling when it comes to leadership roles in engineering?
Time is changing now. It will take some more time to completely break this glass ceiling. As I mentioned above, organisations have started putting more focus in increasing their diversity numbers at leadership level. This is driven from top to bottom and hence it has more acceptance. All employees including women are given technical and soft skill training, stretch assignments, coaching so that they gain the skills and are ready to apply for future opportunities. If we see equal opportunities and training being offered, then very soon we will have a good diversity in leadership roles as well.
What has been the experience with seniors at works and the management?
I have worked for almost 19 years, so I would say it's a mixed experience. People used to take time to accept women in leadership roles. But nowadays, there is a culture shift in society and organisations are putting more focus on Diversity & Inclusion, so things are moving in the right direction.
I feel if you are skilled, no mind-set can stop you from achieving what you aspire to become, and you definitely get people around you who understand and support you in the journey. I am blessed to have seniors and managers who have acted as coach for me and trust my work and decisions as a leader.
How did the Covid pandemic affect your working routine and what are the learnings?
Well, if you talk about initial Covid days, I would say there was no routine. For all of us, it was a first (experience). My husband and I both used to work from home, children had online classes, and then you have house chores. We were taking things as they were coming. So many meetings, network issues made things crazier. But then, we all adjusted to the new schedule. In our minds, we have our new calendar.
The learning? Nothing is permanent, so we need to be happy and satisfied in every situation. If we accept the change early, our mind starts providing solutions. But if we don't accept the change, then we remain confused and tired.
The flexibility was a blessing in disguise. It allowed every woman to do more multitasking than ever. I personally enjoyed my time at home even during the pandemic.
It is said if you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family, generation (nation). Your views?
I completely agree with this proverb. I have grown up in a family where my maternal grandmother was MA in English Literature and maternal grandfather was Headmaster in Government School. In my childhood, I used to live with them. My Nani was a homemaker. My Nanaji used to tell me to focus on studies but the person who used to teach me, help me in my exam preparation, etc., was my Nani. My mother and her siblings are also well educated. So, all their granddaughters including me are Engineers.
So, with my experience I can say all the women (working or non-working) are really good at multitasking, social networking, connecting well with family members, empathising, and so forth. So, when you educate a woman, their thoughts, and moral values, a positive mind-set is flown to each person they speak with. Perhaps, that's why it is also said men make houses, women convert them into homes.
What would be your message to those seeking career guidance?
Don't wait for people to come and ask what you want to become. Openly communicate your goals with your manager and arrive at a development plan to achieve the same. Be innovative and never hesitate in sharing your ideas. Participate in organisation-level initiatives to gain confidence and know more about your organisation.
What are the three words that best capture the essential you?
Determined. Optimistic. Innovative.
Swati Jain, Senior Manager – Program Management, Technology R&D & Women in STEM Leader for India, Emerson India. Swati’s current role includes collaboration with external stakeholders and ensuring projects meet business objectives, keeping risks under control while managing and executing projects. As the India Region Leader for Women Engineers Club STEM, her role is to inspire, guide and lead by example for tomorrow’s leaders while managing activities to take the STEM experience and excitement to the next level.
Swati has over 18 years of work experience with 10 years in Emerson. Her hobbies include exploring new places, listening to music, and reading spiritual books. A Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science and Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration in Human Resources from Symbiosis, her recently acquired skills include: Agile Framework, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (CLSSGB) certification and PMP training from a registered educational provider (REP.)