Udayavni Special

Women in heavy engineering, women at L&T leading by example

Team Udayavani, Mar 7, 2021, 3:05 PM IST

Engineering is perceived as a masculine profession. Historically, the image of engineering has been tough, heavy, dirty, and to do with machinery. These cultural images have remained powerful and have represented occupational segregation where engineering has been perceived as unsuitable for women.

Engineering is a male-dominated industry. Some might say this isn’t a job for women because of the heavy equipment and problems with gender imbalance. But you know what? They’re wrong.

L&T, India’s largest homegrown engineering, procurement, and construction company is breaking the stigma attached to women in engineering by fostering an environment that is diverse and inclusive. May it be power transmission & distribution, steam turbines, running the Hyderabad metro, rocket motor casings, defense missile systems, or nuclear containers, women at L&T are leading some of the most challenging heavy engineering, manufacturing, and construction roles in the industry.

Below are some women at L&T who are excelling at their roles that break the gender stereotype.

POWER LADY: Abha Sheth

During the pan-India COVID lockdown, L&T MHI Power Turbine Generators supplied a 1070 MW supercritical steam turbine – the highest rating manufactured in India so far – right on time to meet its Japanese customer’s schedule.  It was a moment of triumph for L&T – and for Ms Abha Sheth, Project Manager for Exports Projects.

An electrical engineer from Birla Vishwakarma Mahavidyalaya, Vallabh Vidyanagar in Gujarat, Ms Sheth joined L&T as a Graduate Engineering Trainee in 2009.  Rising rapidly through the ranks, she acquired experience on a variety of prestigious power projects and manufacturing assignments, beginning with a stint at L&T Power.

Her achievements are many. For instance, she single-handedly implemented and executed the Database Management System for the Koradi team and L&T Power. She played a key role in the development and in-house manufacture of 660 MW generator stator coils for supercritical generators. And so on.

Her inquisitive mind led her to MELCO’s factory in Japan, where she gained in-depth knowledge of the technology – and successfully established the manufacturing process at L&T’s mega facility at Hazira.

Ms. Sheth comes from a family where women reign supreme! One of three daughters, she is married to a manager in a famed steel company. The couple has a five-year-old daughter.

A nature lover, Ms. Sheth finds gardening a stress-buster. She is a keen implementer of Japanese 5S learning. Inspired by books such as Ken Blanchard’s Whale Done and Hector Garcia and Francesca Miralles’ Ikigai, she dreams of continuing to power her journey to the stars.

Welding excellence: Renu Gupta

Rocket motor casings. Defence missile systems.  Nuclear equipment for pressurized heavy water reactors and fast-breeder reactors.  Equipment for process plants, refineries, fertilizers, and petrochemicals.  What do these have in common?

They have been all in a day’s work for Dr. Renu N Gupta, Head – Design QA and Design for Manufacturing at L&T Heavy Engineering, a post she has held since last year. Earlier, she was Head – Welding and Metallurgy.

Dr. Gupta’s qualifications are prodigious. A BE (Metallurgy) from IIT-Roorkee, she holds a Diploma in Internal Welding Engineering from the International Institute of Welding and a Ph.D. from IIT-Bombay.

In her 16-year journey with L&T, she has been involved in critical fields such as manufacturing motor casings for ISRO, defence missile systems, nuclear equipment for reactors, and apparatus for process plants, besides being involved in refineries, fertilizers, and petrochemicals.

Along the way, she garnered a bouquet of awards and accolades. For significantly contributing to the field of welding, the Indian Institute of Welding (IIW) presented her the Prof Placid Rodriguez Memorial Lecture Award in 2012. For being a business enabler, she picked up the Innovative Woman Leader of the Year award during the Women Empowerment Summit in 2019.

Dr. Gupta holds prestigious memberships – as a member of the IIW Council Committee, she represents L&T as an Industrial Corporate member. She is also a member of the Confederation of Indian Industries’ Core Group on Welding Technology. She has also published several papers in peer-reviewed international journals.

In recognition of her inspirational career, the C V Raman College of Engineering, NSDC, AICTE, and IIW invited Dr. Gupta to deliver a lecture at the ‘National Welding League of Women Engineering Students’ in 2019.

Structural beauty: Sindhu Nair

The next time you wait for a flight at Mumbai airport’s T2, take a look at the roof. For, the coffered canopy and the intricate steel trusses behind the façade were designed by Ms. Sindhu Nair as part of the L&T team that constructed the terminal building.

Posted as the Chief Engineering Manager with the Engineering, Design & Research Centre (EDRC) of L&T’s Buildings & Factories arm in Mumbai, she holds a BE Civil from VJTI Mumbai and underwent a management education programme at IIM-Ahmedabad.

Ms. Nair’s wide-ranging experience spans 18 years and covers the design of airports, commercial and residential buildings, water treatment plants, and bridges.

Her affiliations are awesome. She is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India), a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Engineers, and a Project Management Professional (PMP). She is also the Chairperson of the Institution of Civil Engineer’s (UK) ‘Women in Engineering initiative in India.

There are many dimensions to Ms. Nair. A Carnatic music aficionado, an avid driver, and a car rallyist, she is also an animal lover. Ms. Nair feels fortunate to have a supportive husband and parents. Between her and her 17-year-old son, they look after stray dogs in their neighborhood.

Metro Mover: Govu Susrutha

When 23-year-old Ms. Govu Susrutha stood at the hi-tech console at the head of an air-conditioned metro rake at Hyderabad’s Nagole station on a January day three years ago, she had reasons to be nervous- yet confident.

After all, she would be responsible for the passengers who would ride on the L&T Hyderabad Metro Rail Ltd (LTHMRL) train. As they rushed in to occupy the seats, Ms. Susrutha whispered a brief prayer but knew that the microcontroller would guide the system.

She gently pushed a small gear-like shaft, pressed a couple of buttons, the automated PA system made the announcement, and the train, on the Blue Line, slowly slipped out of the platform for Raidurg.

Ms. Susrutha now makes three train-trips a day on the 28-km stretch, with as much ease as she shoulders her part of her family responsibilities while ensuring care for her little son and in-laws.

“An engineer with a B.Tech degree, I began working as a train operator after undergoing a special training course by LTHMRL for three months. This included hands-on driving practice in operating the metro rake, customer relationships, firefighting, and first-aid,” says Ms. Susritha, who originally hails from Telangana’s Mahbubnagar.

She recalls that her parents were “very proud and happy” when she landed the job with LTHMRL. “My parents supported me immensely. Their grooming made me confident that I can achieve all that I dream of.”

What gives her “satisfaction” is that she, along with her other colleagues, “gives a safe and secure commute to scores of passengers” and is part of an organization having an “interesting, dynamic environment.”.

Spokespersons on Diversity and Inclusion

American educator and businessman Stephen Covey once said that “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” Mr. SN Subrahmanyan, CEO & MD, Larsen & Toubro on Diversity and Inclusion says, “ So, at Larsen & Toubro, while we have been involved in engineering, manufacturing, and construction, which have long been considered male bastions, it has been our strategic and concerted effort to enhance our Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) quotient.”

Further talking about the diversity within the workforce, “We believe that in it lies our greatest strength. We have made significant progress in our effort so far to weave D&I into our fabric and remain confident of moving the needle further thanks to our collective ability to value differences, synthesize divergent mindsets, perspectives and viewpoints and collaborate seamlessly to achieve our shared dreams and goals.”

“We recognize and acknowledge the importance and relevance of D&I to remain a progressive organization. The more diverse and inclusive we are, the better equipped and positioned we will be to understand and meet the requirements of our stakeholders, foster a culture of innovation and attract and retain talent,” he asserted.

Dr. C Jayakumar, Vice President & Head – Corporate Human Resources, L&T asserts, “Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) are two extremely crucial criteria for the continued success of modern-day enterprises. At L&T, we have not only recognized their relevance but have taken some strategic, structured, and well-considered initiatives to incorporate D&I virtues into our employee programmes – be it hiring, fast-tracking bright talent, carefully placing employees where they can perform best, or even inappropriately rewarding people.”

“This movement is top-driven with our CEO and Managing Director and the entire senior leadership committed to integrating D&I into our scheme of things. It has given us, L&T’s HR fraternity, a huge fillip to generate patronage for D&I in an organization that is diverse and expansive. As across India, we too at L&T revel in our unity in diversity, and our endeavor has been to drive home the fact greater the D&I the more beneficial it for our business, irrespective of its nature.”

“Our focus going forward should be to deep-root the virtues of D&I, identify more among us to champion these causes, and embed them in the way we think and do business.”


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