Q&A with SWE’s International Ambassador to Pune Riya Thakkar
Riya Thakkar is an engineering professional working with sensor design and manufacturing company Sensata Technologies India as Lead Applications Engineer and Functional Safety Manager. She loves to read, know about upcoming automotive technologies and travel.
How did your SWE journey start?
In my last year at Boston University in 2014, I met the then SWE Boston Vice President. She introduced me to another wonderful woman who is now my mentor. My mentor had been in the Collegiate Liaison position for more than 3 years, and after hearing from both these women about their SWE stories, there was no looking back. I not only joined the SWE community as a collegiate member, but also transitioned to a professional member (3 years and still going strong) and a Collegiate Liaison for Boston (2 years), and now an SWE international ambassador.
Why did you apply for SWE International Ambassador Role?
I came across one of the SWE emails asking for non U.S. SWE members who are interested in promoting the SWE brand and in developing leadership skills to apply for this role. Coincidentally, I was also planning to move back to my home country. All pointers mentioned in the email fitted well in my criteria of the next role with SWE and I did not think twice. I must say that the SWE International Ambassador role has been all I had thought of and much more.
What differences and similarities did you find in your old role as a collegiate liaison and new role as a SWE international ambassador?
In my old role, I was acting as a bridge between collegiates and professionals. It was more as a facilitator to close the gaps between collegiate to collegiate and collegiate to professional. On the other hand, my new role is a complete new horizon; I have to bridge the gaps between the SWE and non-SWE members and get them on the same page. As part of my new role, I have met a lot more people who were not aware about SWE. After my SWE introduction to them through discussions and presentations, the positive experience of the process has been very rewarding as most of them were appreciative of what SWE brings to its community. Hearing the positive feedback from people who are new to SWE is both fulfilling and a proud feeling.
What is your ambassador project for this year? How is it coming along?
As part of my ambassador project, I am co-organizing an innovation challenge for engineering students across Pune called ‘TechFix 2018’ with the theme ‘Cycle for Change’. My co-organizer Aditi Khare and I, along with the support from my mentor Stueti Gupta, started this journey on a great note with 20 SWE and non-SWE volunteers from different industries such as automotive, electronics, event management, and website development. With the help of these energetic people, we have come a long way in terms of event framework, social media/website preparedness, and financial know-how for the event. Currently, we are in look out for an event management company that can help us take to the next level with maximum student participation and sponsorship.
Any closing message for people who are looking to join SWE and/or apply for the SWE International ambassador role next year?
For people who are looking to be a part of SWE, I would say that they will gain a lot in terms of great pool of resources, mentors, network, and conferences once they are part of SWE. So, join SWE now!
For people who are looking to apply for the SWE International Ambassador position next year, my message is that you will be forced to come out of your comfort zone and to explore yourself and your leadership style through all experiences, setbacks, and challenges that you will face during your project. It will teach you the importance of having family support, right event partners, and mentors.
My final closing message:
“Take risks in life. If you win, you will lead. If you lose, you will guide.”