Recently, we got in conversation with Sweety Kumari, Scientist ‘E , working in Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), one of the labs of DRDO. In her interview she tells us how she creates a fine balance between professional & personal life. She herself agrees that “Having it all” is a myth but if you take support from your family & especially have an understanding with your better half then it is easy to achieve your dreams. Read her interview to get a glimpse into her life. She is truly an inspiration for all the young girls.
Tell us about yourself, your family, background and current career
I belong to a modest middle class family. My father worked in SAIL, Bokaro Steel Plant and my mother was a home maker. I was the eldest child among two sisters and a brother. Apart from being a well to do family, we had no set goal in our life to achieve or any specific accolade. And the only way for us to succeed was to perform well in studies. I also had a vision to relieve my parents from the financial burdens they faced to support our studies and to help me achieve what I am today!
My education from nursery to class 12th was at one of the modest schools of Bokaro Steel City (Jharkhand). Due to my family support and hard work, I was successful to clear competitive examinations and got admitted in REC Trichy (NIT Trichy) to pursue my graduation in Metallurgical Engineering. But allowing me to study in REC Trichy was a very tough decision for my parents. I was the first girl from Bihar to take admission in REC Trichy, which was nearly 1500 Km away from my native place. Moreover, Metallurgy was considered a specialization not favorable for women. But my parents took the stand because of which I was able to pursue a field of my choice and in one of the best college of country. After completing my graduation, I joined one of the PSUs of Government of India where I worked as Junior Engineer for around 2 years. Subsequently, I joined DRDO in 1999 as a scientist and continued my services till date. I am happy to share that I have immense professional and personal satisfaction while working with this prestigious organization of our country. Currently, I am working as Scientist ‘E’ in DMRL, one of the labs of DRDO for research in the field of development of materials for defense applications.
I got married in the year 2002 to my life partner, who is a Civil Engineer by profession, working with one of the Central Government Departments. We are blessed with two wonderful kids, who are our life line and best gift of god to us!
How do you handle workload stress and emergency situations?
I strongly believe that we are blessed with immense resilience of getting unnerved in different circumstances. Bearing a child itself is a very challenging situation, which god blessed only to a woman. In addition, exposure to varying circumstances in the family and the society makes every woman capable of facing any challenging situations in life. However, from my own personal experiences, knowing fully well, I try to avoid such situations which may increase the stress quotient. I know I am not a superwoman and I am prone to committing mistakes. But sometime situation may not be well within my control. In such situations in professional life, planning, prioritization and delegation of tasks, and discussion with the senior colleagues become my mode of handling the stress or emergent situation. I am extremely thankful to my seniors, colleague and subordinates at my work place for the unconditional support. On domestic front, I think my family itself is the biggest stress reliever for any tough situations. Sometimes, I argue with my husband (healthy one) or play with kids or talk to my parents, which always help me to overcome stress. Believe me, it really helps and I recommend all working women to find their stress relievers, whichever they feel good for them. Sometimes, even crying itself becomes a stress reliever for me. There is a general belief that “Man don’t Cry” or “Strong woman don’t cry” and crying is considered as a sign of weakness. On the contrary, crying has been a great reliever ….. Just shed a few drops of tears, look at the innocent face of your kid and the moment the better half pampers you, everything come to normalcy instantly J. I am thankful to almighty that I have a great family support to face any kind of situation.Describe your day to day activities, priorities and tasks.
My life begins with getting up at early hours of morning. The accomplishment of daily chores like cooking food and making children and self-ready for school and office respectively is the first challenging task every day. Also, I have to report to office at 8:40 am, due to my job requirement. Needless to mention my better half extends all kind of help and support, be it cooking meal or helping kids in getting ready for school. After reaching office, my daily activities involve research work and project management, in addition to attending meetings, seminars etc. My younger son, who is in LKG, arrives home at around noon. At such a nascent age, kids require continuous support and care and this shouldn’t be compromised at any cost. To ensure that he is properly fed, I have to be available at home before he arrives from school. After feeding him, I return to office as soon as possible.
|In her office|
Any hurdles/obstacles you faced in pursuing your dream and how you overcame some of those?
There will always be ups and downs in professional and personal life of any individual. What’s important in this roller coaster ride are ability and worthiness to overcome the challenges and obstacles. I am thankful to my parents for the culture and values I am groomed in. My mother, despite modestly educated, is extremely forward looking and broad minded person. She is always proactive in encouraging me to achieve or overcome any kind of obstacle and challenge. In Indian culture, institution of marriage, family is an integral part of everybody including working women like me. Most of the girls get married through arranged marriage, where initial part of married life is not so predictive. As I mentioned initially that women are blessed with great quantum of resilience to face any circumstances, in such situation also women start getting habituated to the new Diasporas of life. In such pursuance, if one gets the support from their better half, then the definition of any obstacle or hardship completely gets changed. I am thankful to almighty as I was not only nurtured with care by the parents but also got the better half, whose support is not only unconditional but also extremely encouraging. Having got an opportunity to work in country’s most prestigious institution, I only dream to play a great role in the nation building and pursuance to put our country among the top bracket.
Describe your most successful accomplishments.
My most successful accomplishment so far has been that I made my husband an extremely good cook (laughs). Jokes apart, today whatever I have accomplished is not just my achievement, but teamwork. My biggest sense of successful accomplishment is the thought that I am also an integral part of nation building.
|At a workshop|
What are the key challenges in this field for women? What are your personal challenges?
No specific challenge to highlight, however, there is a general perception that women cannot accomplish certain tasks. In DRDO, such perceptions are changing very fast and people have also realized about such facts. Being a women, it’s not a denying fact that role of women on domestic front is more demanding than their spouse, even if the spouse is very much supportive and caring. Certain responsibilities are to be owned only by a mother rather than father. In certain situation, it becomes challenging to do justice with both the professional demands and personal commitments. The only way to meet such situation on positive note is to be proactive, prioritize and proper planning of tasks in advance rather than getting caught in all the activities at same time and finding oneself on the lost island. As rightly said by Ms Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo; “having it all” is just an illusion which comes with sacrifices and tradeoffs. My personal challenge is to do justice to my professional demand as well as taking a good care of the family, most importantly of the children who need mothers care at an early age. The mother’s role has to be played by the mother only and I realize this fact with submission rather than denial and considering it a burden.
How do you manage a balance between personal and professional life?
This is the most difficult aspect of our life. As told earlier, I and my better half try to help each other whenever required, due to professional or family demand at certain instance. Maintaining the balance between personal and professional life, especially during nascent age of the children is the toughest task and I consider myself privileged that my parents also have been very much supportive on such count. They have always left their comfort zone to ensure that my kids are taken care with compassion and we both are able to cope up in demanding times. To my experience, I have observed that children of the working couple also learn the situation very fast and get accustomed and adaptable quickly. Summarily, I would like to say that with collective support of everyone in family, we are able to face any hardship and challenge. And I think life becomes too boring, if such hardship and challenges are non-existence in one’s life. After all, we humans learn through winning over challenges and obstacles in life. I strongly believe that necessity is mother of invention.
Lastly, what is one advice that you would like to give young women out there who are thinking of taking any profession?
My advice to the younger generation is -“Just believe in your inner strength”. An individual who signifies giving life has not only immense strength but also huge potential. It does not mean one will start thinking that they are extra ordinary. Being submissive is not the sign of weakness but a great character of ability to work in team, professionally or personally. You don’t need to prove anything to anybody. Just be yourself, maintain the most precious gift of god that is “the womanhood”. Be loving, caring and pursue your goals of life steadily. Remember life is like marathon, so never try to sprint and fail or frail.