Udaya Shrivastava, Chief Technology Officer of Fire & Life Safety at Honeywell, has two words to describe the nature of her work: “really exciting.” And to Shrivastava, starting work each day accompanied by a feeling of excitement isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a career essential, and reflective of one of her most memorable pieces of career advice.
“If it’s not fun, it is time to call it quits,” she shared, adding that you should “never limit your aspirations based on how others slot you.”
This dual mentality — that your work can and should be both genuinely enjoyable and something you can seriously evolve within — is what’s helped her build her career to the C-Suite level as a woman in engineering. At Honeywell, she’s been able to do all of that without sacrificing her sense of fun along the way.
Recently, Shrivastava shared with us her trick for prioritizing each day, what makes Honeywell such a supportive place to work and her No. 1 piece of advice to other women in engineering who want to take their careers to the next level.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
Two years. Previously, I was the India Leader for Honeywell’s Safety & Productivity Solutions R&D team.
Describe what you do in one sentence.
I create better value from Fire Life & Safety assets for our end users and partners by embedding differentiated technologies into our fire product portfolio.
What projects or programs are you currently working on? What about this type of work most excites you?
I am currently working on an effort to transform our global fire brands by incorporating software-driven business models into our industry-leading fire safety technologies; it is really exciting. This effort will further emphasize our position as a global leader in the life safety industry.
How do you prioritize and deal with your to-do list each day?
I make a list every night when I close my day, and I also make a list first thing in the morning. People are working in other time zones while I am sleeping, and so that adds to my to-do list in the morning. My critical action items are defined by business and technology strategic priorities, solving impediments or people-related conversations.
Are there any challenges or obstacles you’ve had to overcome being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field?
I don’t think so. I think that has to do with the mindset that we each carry.
How have you used your role to help bring up other women behind you? How do you build time into your schedule for this kind of work?
I am conscious of other women in my peer group and my team, and I go the extra mile to engage with them and even mentor some of them. Mostly, I let women on my team know that I care about their careers and can help create opportunities for them to grow. I encourage more women to be in the industry.
How does Honeywell empower women who are pursuing careers in engineering? Do you participate in any employee networks or programs for women in engineering?
Yes, I do. I think Honeywell does a terrific job of engaging our engineers with the Society of Women Engineers and also with Women in Tech. The recognition around women-related events also provides very good encouragement.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
If it’s not fun, it is time to call it quits. Never limit your aspirations based on how others slot you. Use the model of competency, organizational need and passion to figure out your career sweet spot.
What advice do you have for women in engineering who want to take their career path to the next level?
Just do it. Think of your boss’s role and imagine what is required to do that role. Start role-playing by volunteering and raising your hand to do some of those tasks. Get your manager to delegate those to you. Expose yourself to diverse functions of the business and leverage the largeness of Honeywell. Be green inside and green outside. Go for it.
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