My name is Anita Samuel, an Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer from Sugar Land, TX. I was born and raised in Madurai and immigrated to the US after marriage. My husband of 31 years is a banker, and we have 3 children, ages 28, 27 and 19.
When I moved to the USA in May of 1992, job losses and unemployment were at their peak from the recession that started in 1990. I knew that getting a job would be difficult at that time. So, I decided to get a master’s degree in Electrical and Control Systems Engineering. While I was in college, I gave birth to 2 children, just 12 months apart. They were both born in the beginning of Spring Semesters, and I took just ONE week off from school when they were born and went right back to school. I was afraid that if I took a longer break, I would lose interest and never finish my degree. Thanks to the constant support of my husband, I graduated in December of 1996 when my kids were still infants. One of my proudest achievements was when my babies came in a double stroller, with my ever-supporting hubby, to watch me walk across the stage to get my degree!
My first job after I graduated, was at NASA. Even though it was very glamorous and regarded as a dream job for many, I soon realized that it wasn't for me. The work I did there was just not enticing enough to give up family time and being close to the kids when they needed me. Soon, I found a job very close to home and it turned out to be the best fit for me and I am still working for this fortune 500 global engineering and construction company and going on my 26th year there.
This is where I need to tell you all about what I am as a person. I was a timid girl when I was growing up and talking to people and making friends did not come easily for me. I was self-conscious and nervous and had social anxiety. Moving to a different country and the new and unfamiliar surroundings took me way out of my comfort zone. It was a blessing in disguise for me when the job market was not good during the first few years of living in the USA. Enrolling myself in college gave me the opportunity to ease into it socially and professionally. When I started my master’s, I didn’t fare well in the first semester. Soon I realized that it was not lack of capability or intelligence, but my enemy was my timidity and stubbornness in not approaching my professors or my classmates for help. I knew that the change needed to start with me. So, I started with self-talk and mentoring sessions. The change didn’t happen overnight but gradually I had started getting more and more confident in myself and in socializing and started making new friends, as well as confidence in approaching my teachers. With that came the ability to ask for help when I needed it and I started to perform better. When graduation time started getting closer, I started attending seminars and workshops provided by the University, on interviewing skills, dressing for success, and to move beyond my comfort zone. It was not an easy task by any means being a wife and mother with two kids under 2 years old, not living an ideal “student life”, but I graduated with a good GPA and as a more confident individual.
When I started working, I was just going to be a worker-bee and to perform my duties and assignments to the best of my abilities and timeliness. I never once aspired to be a leader! Unbeknownst to me, I was being watched by my peers and supervisors for my ability to do my work and make sound decisions. Soon, they started sending me to training-sessions, seminars and assigned me to a mentor to enhance my leadership skills, a trait I did not know, existed in me. I was given more and more responsibilities as well as opportunities to lead a group of peers. What I thought was going to be a “cubicle” type job where I put my head down and worked and went home to my family when my work was done, turned out to be a more meaningful, fulfilling, and exhilarating experience. I enhanced this by taking exams to be a board-certified Professional Engineer.
Being an employee of a global company, with people coming from various diverse backgrounds, it provided opportunities to interact and work closely with colleagues across the country, as well as in other countries in the United Kingdom, Philippines and in my own home country, India! I was being recognized, given promotions and soon offered a job to be the Lead Engineer with people working with me in the local office and in Manila. I was hesitant but took the opportunity because I knew that I would hinder the opportunities of my professional growth if I declined it. What started as a small conceptual engineering job with just a few people, soon turned out to be a full blown Billion-dollar construction job. That was followed by more projects that I led, with the other global execution centers. I had opportunities to travel to all these places by myself and navigate my way through each place. Because I decided to make use of the opportunities given to me, I was able to establish friendships with my colleagues in the various countries and continents by finding harmony in our diversity.
Very often, my innate timid nature would threaten to show up again and shut me down, especially in “foreign” countries and places. I overcame those with a lot of self-talk, prayers and encouragement from my mentors, family, and well-wishers. I had to adapt myself to the constant demands of working across time zones, all the while trying to keep a work-life balance and still be present for my family and growing children. After all, success should not be just in the workplace but also equally or more importantly in one’s personal life as well. And it all takes hard work, cooperation and oftentimes, letting go of one’s ego but be grounded in their beliefs. It’s not always easy and sometimes, I did have to fight and overcome racial discrimination and gender bias (especially in the Engineering Industry which is male dominated), to achieve Equality. Within the workplace, equality is a commitment to self-reflection and change. Diversity should also be seen as an asset, not an obstacle or something that’s not worth acknowledging. True equality embraces diversity as much as it stands against discrimination.
We all want to be in an environment that embraces equality, diversity and denounces discrimination. For us to be able to experience this, the changes need to start within us and our mindsets and how well we make use of the opportunities given to us. Thus, the famous words of Poet William Ernest Henley,” I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” became my Motto: I am the Master of my own Destiny. We should be the authors of our own destiny. It means we take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and their outcomes.
I will leave you with the following tips the famous author Tony Robbins challenges with on how to control our destiny:
- Accept Reality: Develop your self-awareness and accept reality.
- Question your Beliefs: We must question the story we tell yourself – and transform it into one that empowers us.
- Let go of the Past: We must forgive those who have hurt us and let go of the past.
- Explore your Relationships: Relationships are a window into our own values and beliefs, including our beliefs about ourselves. Sometimes, we must cut ties with unhealthy relationships that no longer serve us.
- Reveal your Driving Force: Recognize the driving force for the ultimate reason for the things we do.
- Face your Fears: To become our best self and we need to realize our unlimited potential for growth and must learn how to use fear instead of letting fear use us.
- Design your Life: We can do, have and be anything we want if we put our mind in the right place, so think big.
- Reset Your Focus: We must put all our energy toward achieving that life we have designed for ourselves.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Anita is featuring a pure silk Kanjeevaram, The Palanquin Story in the main image & the Ivory Banarasi Shikarga with a blouse from our Pre-Designed Collection.