Meet Rupa Paramanik, An inspirational woman leader for the next-generation engineers

Vinod Shah Posted on: 2022-09-12 09:09:00 Viewer: 5,300 Comments: 0 Country: India City: Bengaluru

Meet Rupa Paramanik, An inspirational woman leader for the next-generation engineers

“I believe that as long as you build yourself a close circle of allies, there is every opportunity to succeed”.

Rupa’s favourite quote fits her well, as her pioneering spirit has helped her not only advance—but thrive—in the male-dominated world of engineering.

After completing her degree in Civil Engineering, she faced various challenges during her job search in the engineering domain as there no construction company was ready to recruit a female engineer. But despite the criticism and challenges she never gives up and her own occasional self-doubt, she continued on to an entry-level field engineering job as Design Engineer at STUP Consultants Pvt. Ltd. Although she initially worried that her gender would keep her from being taken seriously, she forged strong, successful relationships and built trust with her clients.

Since then, she’s followed opportunities from STUP to Namma Metro, Bengaluru, and now assumes more responsibility, forging professional connections, and creating a new life for herself each time. Now as a Deputy Chief Engineer at Bangalore Metro Rail Project, she uses her technical and project management skills to help build the underground metro structures that literally transform the urban rail infrastructure.

Recently, we interacted with Ms. Rupa Paramanik via email and discussed various points that cover the beautiful and very inspirational journey of her life. Read on for more about her adventure & dedication towards learning new things and maybe get inspired to plan your own.

Kindly tell us about your academic and professional journey.  What sparked your interest in civil engineering?

I graduated from NIT Durgapur with specialization in Civil Engineering in 2004. I completed more than 18 years of journey in my professional career since then. I led large structural engineering projects at MNCs and Indian conglomerates. I participated in prestigious metro projects as a Detailed Design Consultant (DDC)/General Consultant (GC) from review to approval of drawings for Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur and Ahmedabad.

To be honest, when I got an opportunity in Civil Engineering, I was not sure whether I will be able to grasp it. But slowly I started believing that God has a big plan and started loving the subject and started realising it.

As a female Civil Engineer, it was quite challenging in 2003-04 when 100% placement was not obvious. I didn’t get any right opportunities during campus placement and faced various challenges during job searching as most of the construction companies rejected me because they were not ready to recruit a female engineer. I was disturbed but didn’t give up, I knew I need to change the situation and will have to prove that a woman is also equally capable in the structural and construction industry. I started exploring through the right channels and got the start after 3 months of completing of degree. And since then, I have been working hard and trying to give my best as per my capability.

You work on very large-scale projects with long time horizons. What are your go-to time management strategies?

I believe that we need to use our time wisely – “The key is not spending time, but investing it” Stephen R Covey.

Time management is nothing but common sense. If we consider work as part of our life, then we will enjoy the work. Naturally, we will not feel stressed.

For best time management, I generally follow a few basic measures/principles such as:

  • I set specific/concrete realistic goals on a daily basis as there are only 24 hours in a day. Set both long-term goals and short-term ones to support them. I integrate my goals with my organization, personal, and career growth.
  • I set reasonable expectations (as we know that no one’s perfect)
  • I make a schedule and maintain the calendar. I usually spend my time and use resources mindfully.
  • I review and revise my plans to make the best use of the available time.
  • I examine my values to help to make time management decisions.
  • I realise that goals can be changed, but know which goals to stick to.
  • I use my idle time to review and utilise the same for learning new things each day. I try to make it a habit to improve my knowledge of the subject on daily basis.

Many people imagine engineers sitting in their offices and making calculations all day. What are the biggest misconceptions people have about your job?

Right, if people imagine engineers sitting in their offices and making only calculations all day – is the biggest misconception - is not correct for civil engineers. We must have extensive knowledge about the subject and its practical implementation as per reality.

We must develop a relentless attitude and not allow fear to stop us, need to develop a seeking spirit to learn from practical aspects as well, based on our ability. Sometimes we may not correlate or enjoy but we need to persevere, to visit the site, visiting the site executions give vast clarity about the subject and the project broadly.

What is it like to be a woman in engineering? Do you feel that your gender gives you a different perspective and experience from your male counterparts? Any advantages?

I feel lucky to be entering the profession of engineering; it’s the best engineering has ever been for women.

I believe that as long as you build yourself a close circle of allies, there is every opportunity to succeed.

As a woman in engineering, it is advantageous to see yourself playing an important role in the workplace and society.

As for gender discrimination concerns, I never feel that differentiation. I simply tried to give my best and enjoy the work I am responsible for. Honestly, I have received support from my family, friends, teachers, colleagues, and seniors who lifted up.

It is not fair to take advantage of being a woman engineer. Based on dedication, perseverance and sincerity, one can make a difference and make the corporate world a better place for women.

What advice do you have for women interested in engineering? What kinds of practical experience should they have? What technical skills should they pick up?

I think it is time to change the mentality about what a woman engineer can do, you must follow your dreams and excel in whatever work you have been given. I would say if you believe in your ability, if we enjoy the present journey, give our best with complete sincerity. Nothing is impossible. Always try to be in the present not to think about the consequence or outcomes or think about the past/future which I don’t have any control over.

Not to fear or not to think too much about success, if you think about outcome or success, automatically we will be fearful. But if we are excited about the process and work with passion. Believe me, you will enjoy the journey, which will give you immense joy and a sense of satisfaction. Also, you should not think only about your own benefit, to think about personal growth aligned with organisation’s growth. You know, to think about how I am going to help organisation to grow along with my personal growth.

To work with passion and of course, we must have practical experience in the subject for which we are responsible. Broadly we learn about theoretical knowledge during engineering graduation but in reality, we need to learn many new things as per actual site conditions and practical implementation based on technical skills which give massive clarity about the subject. It gives immense joy and fulfilment when we see the structures which we theoretically analysed/ designed are successfully implemented/executed and functional for many years.

You’ve moved to different cities for job opportunities more than three times. How have you built personal and professional networks in brand-new cities?

Yes, it is true, as I mentioned earlier that I worked in Delhi Metro (Phase 2 & 3) and Jaipur Metro. I was posted there for 10 years. I was in Mumbai and worked for Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC), I was posted in Pune and was responsible to review design/drawings as GC. Now I am in Bangalore. To be very honest, I never thought from that point of view about changing the cities or strategizing myself. I simply follow the path dedicatedly to whatever came on my way. You know, I continued to connect the dots/ human hearts in terms of metro connectivity or road connectivity, providing almost door-to-door connectivity to make people’s life easy and comfortable. With complete sincerity, I worked hard and I got a huge opportunity to work/interact with different people from different backgrounds and cultures. Thoroughly enjoyed different cultures, journeys and create many beautiful human connections at different locations (India or Abroad like Mongolia) along with professional connections in these years. And I didn’t plan anything, it just happened very naturally.

Finally, what do you wake up looking forward to? What’s next for your career?  

There are three aspects that drive me these days:

  • Professional satisfaction by providing leadership in rail projects all over India and abroad.
  • Continuous learning of new concepts from peers, seniors and upcoming talents.
  • Social responsibility by providing sustainable development of infrastructures.

What are your thoughts on our publications i.e. Metro Rail Today and Urban Transport News?

It is one of the best publications which focuses on the highlights of the recent development in Rail & Metros (e.g. urban metro/suburban metro/fright rails) and urban transportation and other sustainable infrastructures all over India.

It gives an overview of ongoing and upcoming challenging infrastructure projects and captures the latest ideas for Industry development which is the need of the hour. I regularly read and follow Metro Rail Today and Urban Transport News and keep myself updated.

  




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