The Table with the lady
It was a rainy monsoon evening in Mumbai. We were a group of 30 young officers gathered to present three key ideas that could change the course of our Lube Business for years to come. The ideas were to be presented in front of the Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. Oh, so you are the only lady in the room! Congratulations for the wonderful idea on logistics!, said the Chairman of our Corporation.
This was back in 2016 when I was less than 1 year old in the Corporation. As a newly graduated electrical engineer, I had grand aspirations for my career. However, having completed the Induction Training, I was posted in a small Lube Blending Plant at Budge Budge; somewhere in the outskirts of Kolkata. Staying alone for the first time in life, travelling three hours everyday from Kolkata to Budge Budge and more importantly working as a Maintenance Engineer in a factory run by two hundred men was not a roller coaster ride for me.
The transition from classroom lectures to motor repair workshops; working on assignments with fellow students to working on the DG set breakdown repair with fellow electricians and mechanical service persons for hours had taken a toll on me. “What am I doing all this for?”, I used to often wonder; “Is this the kind of work that I imagined for myself?. Such thoughts used to often linger at the back of my mind in the initial days of my factory life. Our Plant-In-Charge and my first boss used to often tell me, “I know how you feel, but remember something - your ideas are always welcome here, this you will get to know with time”; and I did get to know that soon enough. Walking through the plant, being a part of the daily maintenance job, I used to notice certain redundancies in operation – through the eyes of a foreigner as they say.
I kept a note of all of those redundancies and started manifesting ideas to overcome them. I kept discussing those ideas, big and small, with my boss and he encouraged me to implement them in the plant. That year, due to installation of heavy duty motors in the pump, the electrical power demand had crossed the contractual demand limit with our utility provider due to which we had to pay huge penalties. Thinking about this issue for hours, I came up with a unique solution where-in a power electronic smart Demand Controller could be used to switch off the lesser priority electrical devices way before the demand actually rose to an alarming level. With the help of ladder logic and my knowledge in power electronics, I implemented the new demand controller in the plant which aided in avoidance of any further penalties and helped us move one step closer towards a smartly operated Plant.
As I slowly progressed through my initial months in the Corporation, I gradually discovered the sense of duty that I inherently had within me. I realised the fact that I can definitely make a difference, big or small, in the lives of the people working in the Plant. The learning curve was gradually peaking when one day my boss called me in his office. “You have been nominated by Headquarters Office for a Lube Transformational Project. You will be part of a team that shall design a transformational idea to improve Lube Logistics in the coming times”. Thus started the journey as we worked tirelessly for months to finally formulate the idea that eventually transformed Lube Logistics.
I was chosen by our team co-ordinator to present the logistics improvement idea before the Chairman of IOCL. We were just done with the presentations and the Chairman was interacting with the budding engineers. “So, you are the only lady in the house tonight,”, he remarked and continued to interact with me. Little did I know that the interaction would change my life forever! With his ever charismatic personality, he entrusted me with huge power and responsibility to implement the presented ideas within six months. There are some moments that truly become memorable and remain etched deep in your heart. I would be ever grateful to my Corporation for giving me the vast array of opportunities that made me believe in myself a bit more everytime I successfully achieved them.
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