From the Editor’s Desk: International Women’s Day Special
From the editor’s desk: On the occasion of Internation Women’s Day, Sree Nandy – our CEO and Editor-in-chief, powerhouse, entrepreneur, and educator extraordinaire gives us a glimpse into her personal journey so far. We at SAEVUS wish all our readers a very happy Women’s Day!
A square peg in a round hole – that is my story in the world of conservation and Environmental Education.
As someone growing up in the traditional Kolkata of the eighties where one’s pedigree was synonymous with his/her academic achievements, becoming an engineer or a doctor was naturally the career of choice and merit. So, I was considered to be on the right track as I graduated as an Electrical Engineer from the best government college in the state, and took up a corporate career with the German multinational, Siemens Ltd. But this path was not what life was planning for me. After spending my twenties and the major part of my thirties in the company of blast furnaces, ESPs and DCS systems, and faring well at that, my familial responsibilities led me to activate a pause button on my job. While on sabbatical, I dabbled in work from home options, from engineering consultancy to teaching, achieving a decent reputation in both. I also completed my M.S from BITS, Pilani that once again fuelled my desire to get back to the engineering industry.
It was at this point, around ten years ago, when I was suddenly made a friendly offer to run SAEVUS. It was a new wildlife magazine, which was being launched by Sandeep Mall, Dhritiman Mukherjee, and my husband, Santanu Nandy. The idea was to bring out a publication that could sensitize people who were not core wildlifers, and the founders felt that I fit the bill. My interactions with the wild till then had been limited to browsing wildlife magazines and touristy visits to the national parks, but this seemed to be a cause and a challenge worth taking up. So, there I was, designated as the CEO and Editor-in-chief of an organization which had already seen a sizeable investment.
It was a huge responsibility, not only because I felt accountable to the partners, but because I was taking up a responsibility that directly impacted the lives of us and our children. There was no defined road map, no benchmarks, and no references. I conceptualized and peddled ideas which later fructified into some of the biggest projects in their genre. Even while firefighting and coping with start-up obstacles every day, I continued in my pursuit of training and self-development to inculcate an understanding on the domain of environmental education.
It has truly been a ride on a rollercoaster, dotted with some failures, few successes and innumerable learnings. But, with all humility and a bit of confidence, I can say the square peg has finally found its place in the round hole. SAEVUS is one of the country’s most popular wildlife publications and the Eco Achievers environmental education programmes reach over 1,800 schools and 50,000 children every year. Every year during my annual function, I meet hundreds of young people and their families who tell me that SAEVUS was the reason they developed an interest in the environment, and some even wish to take up careers in conservation when they grow up. Teachers from schools have confided in me that they have always been passionate about the greens but till the SAEVUS programmes happened in school, they never had a chance to put it into action. These little joys, little rewards and making small differences is what my journey with Saevus has been all about.
Strange as it may sound, the fact that I was independent at work, making my own decisions and charting my own path, made me a stronger person from within. The goodness and positive vibes that my work generated helped me discover a new, confident woman who could balance work, family, hobbies and social responsibilities.
So, here’s a shout-out on this special day to every woman out there – if I can, so can you! No matter what your profession, your education, or your dream, step out there and you will find your way to contribute.
Remember, the leadership position is always vacant!