I consider the hybrid mode of working to be highly efficient and practical
Published on : Wednesday 08-03-2023
Sqn Ldr Supriya Bhosale (Retd), DSGS Program Directorate and CSR Leader, Dassault Systemes.
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
IWD is a day that celebrates womanhood, the myriad hues associated with this gender and the amazing contribution women are making in every possible field. It is a day that reminds me to be proud of my own kind, in every shape and form and to reminisce about the stupendous journey of women through the years.
What is your career aspiration? Did you have an aspiration to follow this field already at an early age? What was the source of inspiration?
My career aspirations: I have always been driven by the idea of being amongst bright young minds in the field of technology and giving my best in bringing a positive change to my work environment and be part of the force shaping the amazing future.
My stint with the IAF as an Aeronautical Engineering Officer was more of a serendipity but yes, I did have a passion for things that fly and my Mechanical Engineering background only fired up my urge to take Aeronautics as a preferred career path.
Compromise – what does it mean to you in your professional life? In your family life?
Even though one should never compromise on one’s value system and ethics, but beyond the conventional negative connotation to the word ‘compromise’, it is technically a standard condition for a happy existence. We all compromise and try our best to strike a balance in our professional and personal lives. As a woman leader in uniform the compromises on personal front were in the national interest and as a corporate leader, the compromises are more for following ethics at the workplace. Well, I have been fortunate enough to not feel the need to compromise in my professional or personal life for the major part of my career.
Are there professions which are easier for women to pursue? What makes the other professions more difficult?
This is a question which can be generalised for everyone and not just women. Conventionally, there were professions which were ‘unsuitable’ for women but given the strides that technology is taking every single moment and turning into the ultimate equaliser, I am sure the future will not see any field devoid of women.
Further, difficulty is a highly subjective term. To bring in perspective on this, a profession in military aviation has inherent risks due to credible consequences to human life. They are mitigated through consistent and repeated training which can be applied to any other field as well, the more ready you are through consistent practice and simulated challenges, the less actual risks and difficulties surprise you.
How did you experience work from home – as a boon or as a burden?
The pandemic actually coincided with my transition from military service to a corporate career and it was actually a dramatic yet fairly comfortable change for me to witness. I started my new job virtually working from the convenience of my home but always felt the need to get started with the actual office to get into the fundamentals of my new role. I have seen the extremes in the military aviation field where no concept of WFH exists and some corporate organisations where everything can be managed virtually. Today, I consider the hybrid mode of working to be a highly efficient and practical approach for specific industries.
Have you ever missed a career opportunity or promotion due to multiple demands on you as a female? If yes, were you able to voice your thoughts to those who mattered?
I have been fortunate enough to be part of some of the most gender neutral and inclusive organisations that have always supported me to perform to the best of my abilities and overcome challenges as a valued member of the team.
The one that I consider the most outstanding was: When I stood on that concrete tarmac with massive gleaming fighter jets lined up ready to take to the skies and I was told by my Senior Engineering Officer that this is your playground now.
As an officer I realised that serving the nation was more than just an abstract concept and in that moment it meant leading a highly motivated team of men to make those machines fly at the best of their abilities irrespective of your gender.
In what way is today's workplace better than at the turn of the millennium with respect to gender issues?
They are better in every aspect, even though it’s still a work in progress. Starting from the basic amenities like toilets and creches to having highly supportive maternity benefit policies, today companies have evolved very inclusive and supportive measures for women in general. The times are not very far when these support measures will let women participate and contribute to every sphere, share responsibilities and unleash their potential.
Why do we need more women in leadership?
Women in leadership are a prerequisite to create mutually inclusive workplaces and organisations. Women leaders act as guiding beacons to fellow women to follow and reach to their dreams. Women in leadership positions break the barriers of conventional gender based roles, as in my case, when I stood on the tarmac commanding those 200+ technical staff working on highly sophisticated fighter jets, it was something that let them know that a woman can lead. It was definitely something that they took back with them and, I believe, got exposed to the nuances of gender equality that couldn’t have been possible in any other scenario.
What progress have you seen on gender equality in your life and work?
I come from a progressive family with my mother being a lecturer and this actually gave me a great perspective into the aspects of gender equality when I stepped out of my home.
Initially I was surprised to see how the world functioned in general when it came to gender sensitivity – news, Bollywood movies, TV serials – all brought in a typical mindset of limiting females in every sphere of life. But as I grew up and started interacting with people and finally joined the Air Force, I experienced a paradigm shift that was happening and is still under progress. I found that our society is changing positively and becoming better with each passing day. We still have to cover a lot of ground, but with my personal experience, I am absolutely optimistic that we are moving in the right direction as far as gender equality is considered.
Share a women's empowerment moment that inspired you.
Stories of the tremendous obstacles that women like Savitri Bai Phule and Jijamata overcame make me feel grateful and fortunate. Internationally, I find the suffragettes and their struggle to win a basic right is something that inspires me everyday.
How would you describe yourself in just three words?
Dream. Embrace. Conquer.
Sqn Ldr Supriya Bhosale (Retd) is a Mechanical Engineer with specialisation in Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering. She got commissioned in the IAF in 2011 and had the distinction of being amongst the first women officers to have been trained in the fighter aircraft stream and the first to be posted as specialist engineering officer to the elite establishment of IAF. Following this, Supriya was posted as Aircraft Propulsion and Structure instructor at National Defence Academy, Pune. Her journey in the IAF took her through Aviation Management, Strategic Planning, Project Management, Indigenisation, Defence Procurement, Forecasting and Human Resource Development. “It was an absolute honour for me to be part of the elite organisation that IAF is and serves the nation,” says Supriya. Following the completion of her Short Service Commission, Supriya joined Dassault Systemes Global Services in August 2021 and is currently heading different functions like the Program Directorate which comprises a team of Quality and Project Managers and the CSR. Her focus is on process improvement, strengthening project governance at organisation level, talent building and integration of new brands.
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