She’s often seen managing contractors and laborers on-site, recording key developments of the project and ensuring the deliverables are on time. And the sites usually are remotely located plants of process Industries, across India, not considered extremely women friendly. From ‘will you be comfortable on-site’ to ‘are you sure this profile suits you’, she’s seen many a raised eyebrow. She’s been happily managing the difficult terrains for more than 15 years, having navigated marriage, motherhood-twice over and societal norms, alongside.
Meet the ABB woman Archana Gupta, Project Manager, IAPI whose story will inspire you to think beyond.
As a project manager, Archana’s been driving the end to end execution of projects that involve but is not limited to managing internal teams, contractors, commercials, laborers, sourcing et all. Process Industries- the vertical she is serving, usually have their plants on remote locations where last mile connectivity could be a challenge. Having worked her way through umpteen number of such sites both within and outside of the country, she’s familiar with all terrains.
How is it like to be at a place where you are least expected? Hear it from her, “Things are changing, but gradually. As a woman manager, I must put in twice the effort to make people take me seriously.” As a part of ABB, her responsibility does not just stop at delivering a project, but to also monitor and ensure Safety standards- a core value for us. Everyone involved in the project including third party vendors must be dealt with, to reinforce ABB’s safety policy.
When asked what led to a choice so different, she says she’d always been curious to know more about how things work, “I took up electrical engineering knowing where my interest lies, I wouldn’t enjoy a profile that makes me sit and work, I have to get involved, I have to know how things are shaping up.”
Younger sister to a brother, she’s been brought up in a conventional set up in Jaipur where education was encouraged but so was ‘settling down’. Girls in her family were expected to get married early, the reason why she started her career post marriage. Despite being a scholar for almost all her school and college life and wanting to step out into the corporate world, she rather had to choose academics to avoid rebelling against her parents and her in-laws.
The silver lining- she knew her worth and her passion. She knew there’d be people and organizations who would look at her as talent, without any stereotypes. All she needed was the right time and a leap of faith.
“Motherhood changed it all for me. I had always known I wanted to do things differently, and I somehow got the courage to step into the corporate world after my first child was born”. Having been a scholar, finding a corporate job wasn’t as challenging for her. She started with a consulting role in an engineering & management consulting company, where she got an opportunity to hone her E&A skills. In a short span of time, Archana got professional recognition accelerating her career, one step at a time.
She joined ABB in 2018 as a project manager and has been on a success ride since then. She’s also been one of the RISE program participants- meant to mentor high potential women talent for leadership roles.
She’s been awarded with WOFTA award 2018- Professional Category and she’s been the Winner of Sherpa Award: First Young Engineers award for Women from Consulting Engineer’s Association of India.
Interestingly, the only support she got to jump into the corporate world, was that of her life partner. There was no looking back, after the first step. Archana moved up her career in no time, giving her best to every project and managing her two kids with a full-time professional help. She’d advice other women with dreams to follow suit too. “Many of my friends have given up their careers for childcare as they couldn’t trust any care-giver. We will not know if we don’t try. There’s got to be someone who can take care of the kids, just as we do. We need to have trust and find out our support system”. A rather solid advice!