‘Women should ask directly for both family and workplace needs’: Pamela Tikku

The key to advancing gender parity in male-dominated workplaces lies in widening the female talent pool, Pamela Tikku states in a panel discussion Women to Watch held by Autocar Professional.

By Shruti Mishra calendar 13 Mar 2023 Views icon2602 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp

“You can’t be afraid to ask,” Pamela Tikku, Chief Business Officer of Manesar-based testing agency International Center of Automotive Technology (ICAT), said while highlighting the critical need for women professionals to learn how to leverage their strengths, improve their skills, and rise through the ranks in their companies. 

While being equally educated and with an equivalent level of work, women are still taking on most of the household and familial duties. Highlighting why it is important to ask for working women to ask for help with domestic responsibilities, Tikku explained “We should take help. This inhibition of asking for help from someone kills the career of many women. Many cannot pursue their career as they cannot ask for help from their near and dear ones. One should be open to developing a good support system in their family by seeking some help.”

Talking of her own integration in the workforce in a male-centric organisation, Pamela recounts how she had to prove each time that she could perform everything which her male counterparts were doing. It was not an easy path and she says she was thankful for her family support.

From a country perspective, she further stated that the R&D and automotive industries still face a diversity gap. “In the R&D sector, we don't have many engineers or women scientists working. The percentage is really low. The automotive industry was primarily an ICE (internal combustion engine) one, and was focused on a very high level of mechanical jobs making it difficult for women to take on board on shop floors or testing purposes,” Tikku added. 

In the sector of testing and certification, she explained there are certain areas where one needs to go out and do on road testing. However, she pointed out that the key to advancing gender parity in these male-dominating scenes lies in widening the female talent pool. “Earlier both organisations and women candidates were reluctant to be part of such a setup because of the social and safety aspect. As a society in India, we have to evolve and bring up an environment and ecosystem where women feel safe working beyond sunset also,” she emphasised.  

According to Tikku, the transition to electrification in the automotive space has a critical responsibility to foster a more inclusive environment for women, from their education to their careers. “With the electrification happening and involvement of electronics, many women are getting involved in our sector also for example in testing where you have more software and electronics testing where it is not required to do heavy weight load testing,” she added. 

Underlining the family contribution in creating a sense of inclusiveness, Tikku said that the road to equality requires gender roles to free them from stereotypes and prejudices and amplify the message of diversity. “It is the responsibility of each one of us that we should develop this culture of inclusiveness. It should begin at our home first. We should develop the kids who are open to inclusiveness and are sensitive to women's needs and hence they will become individuals who have empathy to what a girl needs in the future,” she added, stating that if change starts happening at home, then change in the workplace is easier to manage.

With over 32 years of experience in the automotive industry, Tikku is currently heading Centre 2 of ICAT and is responsible for the incubation center and new Business Development department of ICAT. She was officiating Director of two centres under NATRiP – ICAT, Manesar from April 2022 to December 2022 and GARC, Chennai from April 2022 to January 2023. Prior to this, Pamela was Chief Business Officer in April 2015, looking after all the business operations of Labs located in Centre 1. Before this, she was responsible for the powertrain lab at ICAT along with her role in supporting the technical wing of NATRiP. She was also instrumental in setting up ICAT Technology Portal ASPIRE set up under Capital Goods Scheme 2.

Pamela joined NATRiP in 2006 and was involved in the planning and procurement of facilities for testing and R&D for NATRiP centres. NATRiP project is funded by the Government of India for Rs 3,845 crore. This includes state of the art facilities in the emerging technology areas of powertrain, Safety, Fatigue, EMC, NVH, Infotronics, etc. She has also taken an active role in finalising the supplier, and benchmarking the facilities with global facilities.

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