Borrowed from SAMPADA old editions – for the 10th Anniversary Special Issue – Interviews section. This one is of Sandhya Thyagarajan, 1992 ECE.

In talks with Sampada for this special edition is Sandhya Thyagarajan, alumni of 1992 batch of ECE. She is currently the is the Vice President, Strategic Electronics Business Unit (SEBU) at Centum Electronics Limited. Our team had an amazing time connecting with her and being enthused knowing her views and thoughts. Here is a brief write up of our conversation with Sandhya:

Team Sampada: Can you please give an overview about your career and journey as an engineer?

Sandhya: My Journey as an engineer has been most exciting, equally challenging and rewarding as well to say the least.

Soon after my graduation, I joined Siemens VDO ( erstwhile International Instruments Limited – IIL ) as a design engineer for the automotive sector, next moved as manufacturing engineer with Ford Motor company and later with GE Medicals in the Process engineering and subsequently joined Kodak Camera division as the Operations head for the unit and in 2006 joined Centum Electronics as General Manger Operations for the Strategic Electronics Division for the Space and defence sector and today I am the Vice President for this division . Starting from automotive, then into medical and later to consumer and now into Space, defence and Aerospace is like coming a full circle!!

The 25 plus years of my journey spanning across the best in the world companies has been for like a dream come true for me with a thorough learning experience and has been a tough journey as well . I recollect that most of the times I have been the only women engineer in the shop floor handling hundreds of team members, working in all shifts, travelling extensively. The various functions that I handled over the years has moulded me with great confidence besides enriching myself analytically, application bend of mind, being decisive, being bold and confident and independent too. Above all these, I consider people management, ownership, decision making and my strong desire to succeed and excel every time in everything I do were the differentiators and my mantra towards my Career growth and success.

Team Sampada: As International Women’s Day is approaching, how significant is it according to you to celebrate it?

Sandhya: Well, honestly I look at the whole approach of celebrating Women’s day more as an opportunity to network with women colleagues , friends or associates, share experiences , seek or provide mentoring , reach out to women needing guidance in many aspects and of course definitely take a break and have fun together as well . Women have come a long long way and are far more competent, capable and becoming independent and are also very successful in every career they choose to be in and making a huge contribution and difference to the society and hence I feel celebration “Toh Bantha Hai“ .

Team Sampada: Your thoughts about UVCE College days?

Sandhya: Firstly with the heritage of UVCE producing the best in the country and it’s a huge privilege to be part of the UVCE Alumni and I must say that this is indeed a step advantage and recognition over others in entry our professional growth.

My memories are those of initial period wherein I had to literally come out of comfort zone from being spoon fed in PU college days to becoming more independent in academics and merits. The competitive culture amongst the student community was sometime stressful but made me push to do better, however the simplicity of the student was also comfortable to be with. We had a wonderful class who enjoyed trips together that is when I got to know many of my classmates, the lunch outs at each ones homes, at times studying together and of course not to forget our fun times in the very old canteen under the huge tree, the experiments done in the chemistry labs which was almost like in no man’s land … on the whole a great time with college friends. I only wish we could have had better infrastructure and more stable faculty and I feel this still continues to be the need even today.

Team Sampada: What was the organizational culture in the industry like 20 years ago for women and working mothers?

Sandhya: Very different!! Firstly we were not as many women as today in the technology areas, the male peers were not as acceptable of women colleagues as today and mostly did not believe women can indeed be in highly technical positions and leading from the top. The workplace was not so conducive for women unlike today with far more flexibilities and rules ensuring safety in workplace, trying to provide a better work life balance and a fair approach for growth. Besides these there used to salary disparity too then. Besides workplace challenges , women then had challenges back home as well, not as equipped with better support system to handle family like today where in men are more willing to share household chores which actually makes a huge difference in our performance at work . Also women today have more opportunities to choose and they also don’t hesitate to take risks. The women today are making a big difference within the organization and also achieving their career dreams better than we did then.

Team Sampada: Since you are working in a field which is cutting edge technology focused, what would you suggest the current students and recent graduates?

Sandhya: Having worked over the last 25 plus years across different technology segments , I would like to suggest to the current/ recent graduates that “Change is Constant“ and technologies too are fast changing and becoming obsolete too soon, hence keep track and update your selves through continuous learning of the newer technologies coming up. Don’t get too caught with securing best grades alone, you need to prepare yourselves to be employable – meaning industry ready. I also feel todays youngsters need to believe that a long term success and growth in career comes from a fair amount of hardwork (no substitute for that) and an eye for excellence in the field of work. As an example if you refer to my field of work in space technology, there cannot be any compromise in quality, reliability and much disciplined approach.

To conclude, learning from every success and failure are extremely critical to be on top of such high end or cutting edge technology domains.

– Sandhya Thyagarajan, Sampada-110

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