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Professionalism is what you require to be successful: Sirisha, Continental India

For the occasion of International Women’s Day, Manufacturing Today speaks to Sirisha, head of industrial engineering & new product launch, Bangalore Plant, Continental Automotive India who shares her experiences.

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International Women’s Day automotive R&D, Sirisha Biju, Women entrepreneurs, Kalpana Chawla, Indira Nooyi, Contiental India

After 16+ years of experience in automotive R&D, I moved to manufacturing domain primarily because here I get to see the different and complementary sides of the development phase, which could help me, have a broader vision of the industry and the factors that impact the business. Compared to R&D, manufacturing is slightly different from a daily operations perspective, for example, the number of stakeholders I interact with, ambience, and the thought process and priorities.

In the early years of my managerial career, I used to be the only woman among the group of managers at any given point in time. During those times, I used to force myself to habituate a few things merely to blend in and be accepted by my peers and men. However, with the experience, I learnt that this is not necessary, and that you just need to be yourself. After all, professionalism is all you require in a workplace like Continental. 

While schooling, I had read a news article about a woman entrepreneur, who fulfilled her dream to become a leader in the IT industry. This was the time where the concept of women entrepreneurs was zilch. That article had such a strong impression on me as a student that I pushed myself where I am today and tell the other women that it is always possible to fulfill your dreams irrespective of gender, place, or industry. As my journey progressed towards the leadership role, I felt the need to connect myself with other women with a similar professional journey. And be inspired by other women achievers like Kalpana Chawla, Indira Nooyi, etc.

Lastly, I want to mention a quote by Kalpana Chawla, which has inspired me and would like to share with others, “If you have a dream, follow it. It doesn’t really matter whether you are a woman or from India or from anywhere”.

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