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Breaking the norms and creating my own identity as a woman engineer

Kabita Poudel, Sales Engineer


As a kid, we all once wished to either be a doctor, an engineer, or a pilot. I was no different. I always dreamt of being an engineer out of the trend. I remember an incident when I was in the 8th standard. One of my relatives laughed when I told him I wanted to be an engineer. His words remain fresh in my mind – ‘You are a girl, you cannot survive out there.’ That’s when it triggered me ‘Why can’t a girl be an engineer? Why can’t I be an engineer?’ Unfortunately, that was not the only time someone questioned my career choice. With every flak, my desire to be an engineer and to prove myself only grew bigger and stronger. 

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Image: Our Sales Engineer – Kabita Poudel

As a novice, a fresher in the world of ‘solar’, I had my apprehensions at the beginning. To be honest, my confidence was very low. Initially, it was quite challenging for me to get used to all the responsibilities assigned to me as I didn’t have a strong base in this field. But with the continuous support of my seniors, I started learning more about the system designs, ways to deal with clients and handle projects. Paving my path with small residential projects, I gradually learned different ways of dealing with clients and tried hard to offer the best solar backup options suitable to their needs. After working for around 2 months at Gham Power, I had managed to find my foot in the field. But that was just the beginning of my journey in ‘solar’. 

I had been a part of a few sites before. Being a girl, that too in an engineering field, I faced a lot of criticisms. There were times when the clients insisted on having a male engineer on the site or rechecking my work by a fellow male colleague. Convincing such clients and gaining their trust was very challenging. But as they say – “criticism motivates you”, I gave my best performance at the site to gain their trust. 

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Image: Our Sales Engineer amid the solar panels at St. Xavier’s College

Among all the site surveys, the turning point of my career at Gham Power was my site survey at St. Xavier’s College, Maitighar. I was excited yet nervous at the same time when my team decided that I would be leading the survey. I could neither say no to such an opportunity, nor find any escape. I really wanted to lead this project but was not confident enough. With the help of my seniors, I prepared for the survey; I had my notes ready, planned my steps and kept going through it religiously like a prayer. Accompanied by one of my seniors, I conducted the survey and got the required information and pictures. As this project was one of the big projects at Gham Power, I had to be mindful of all the technicalities. Designing the system and sending a proposal for the 25kW on-grid system was all done with the coordination of my team. But it was my responsibility to have the deal finalized and hence I continuously started following up with the respective clients. We faced some complications closing the deal but with the help of our manager, everything was sorted and the deal was finally ours. We signed the agreement for the installation of the 25kWp on-grid system at St. Xavier’s College.

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Image: At St. Xavier’s College

The installation work quickly started after a week. Our installation team began the project with the panel mounting on the roof. I had several site visits during the installation process as well. I got to see the practical use of all the system components such as the wires of different dimensions, MCBs, mounting accessories, etc. Although I had the theoretical knowledge of electrical and electronics engineering, I got a deeper understanding of its practical implementation during the installation. Learning the settings of the inverter was the most strenuous part. With the directions provided by my senior, I learnt about the connection and settings of the SMA inverter. It took about two weeks to complete the entire installation, testing, and commissioning. We handed over the system to the college and I was relieved to see them happy and satisfied with the result. The first-ever commercial project I handled was complete.

This project not only added one more experience to my career, but also made me more confident. I am now dealing with other such projects without any hesitation and, in fact, with the confidence that ‘I can’. This project has motivated me to proceed further with more determination, confidence, and conviction. It has taught me about the dos and don’ts of dealing with clients, enhanced my technical knowledge about the system components which will help me to close more deals, and most importantly taught me to trust my own decisions.

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Image: Gham Power – where it all started

It has not been an easy process and I am not done yet. I am building myself every day, little by little. But no matter how hard it has been, I have always pushed myself to take one more step, fight one more time and become a bit better. This journey is probably one of the most difficult ones that I have ever taken, but it is also one of the most enriching experiences of my professional life. Finding myself. Trusting myself. Being myself. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the entire Gham Power team and their constant guidance and support. So, I would like to humbly thank everyone for constantly questioning my decisions to ring out the critical thinking in me which has helped me, today, to create my own identity: a woman engineer.