This woman’s month we celebrate that gender equality in the workplace is currently the best it’s ever been. With millennial women leading the charge, there’s no telling what will happen in the next 40 years to come. Women are making big shifts within industries and roles that were previously male dominated.
Global research conducted by LinkedIn show that since 1978, more women are entering the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sector than ever before.
The following roles have seen the biggest increases:
- Test Development Engineer (+243%)
- Automotive Salesperson (+154%)
- Technical Sales Professional (+133%)
- Architect (+127%)
- Physicist (+116%)
- Public Safety (+118%)
- Construction (+77%)
- Consumer Goods (+71%)
- Design (+70%)
- Agriculture (+67%)
The above research results show that more women are choosing traditionally male-dominated roles, and are thriving in these roles. At Kansai Plascon, we believe in providing both men and women with equal opportunities as diversity is key to business success.
Plascon has 4 different business units (Decorative, Professional, Automotive and Industrial). The automotive business unit is a highly male dominated industry where our little bundle of dynamite, Bavita Valab is a brand manager.
She has been part of the Plascon team since January 2017 and holds an honours degree in Marketing. “There are endless growth and skill development opportunities within the automotive paint industry. I was shocked to learn how similar the spray painting application on a vehicle was to a gel or acrylic nail manicure (on a much bigger scale of course 😊)”, says Bavita.
We asked Bavita to share her journey with us:
Q: How did you choose your career?
A: Once completing my matric, I was totally confused on what to study as there were endless options available. I finally jotted down the pros and cons of each and after much debate decided to enter the corporate industry. At this point I did not even imagine being in the industry which I am in today, but I could not have made a better decision, says Bavita.
Bavita graduated with her degree in marketing and business management with a total of 23 distinctions during her 3 years of tertiary education and joined the corporate world at the age of 21. She has so far spent her career (7 years) working in male dominated industries, first the building and construction industry and now the automotive industry.
Q: How did you land up in such a male dominated industry?
A: After graduating, finding a job was not easy. I must have applied online for over 100 jobs, went for 25 interviews within various industries and just when I was about to give up, I was employed as a marketing intern at a cement manufacturing company. Being a petite and young lady with a marketing intern designation made it very challenging for people to take me seriously, but I succeeded and was promoted to a marketing assistant. It was great having a qualification but getting to know how the industry worked and building strong meaningful relationships required going to building sites, conducting research, attending LOTS of meetings and workshops but most importantly staying true to myself. By visiting various cement manufacturing factories, conducting research and building strong relationships, I learnt how cement was manufactured, packaged, marketed and sold! At this point I also realised that people will like you and relate to you for who you are, there is no need to follow the norm and live someone else’s legacy. Rather, go against the norm and whatever is achieved (even if it’s only a small amount), will be yours and that’s what you will be remembered for.
Q: You made a move from the Cement Industry to the Automotive Coatings industry – was this by chance or do you think it was destiny?
A: Like a true millennial, I was always on the lookout for new opportunities. I realised the growing demand for higher education and started studying part time for my honours degree. I wanted to grow my experience within other industries and to my surprise, I received the opportunity to into another male dominated industry, the automotive coatings industry but this time as a brand manager. I thought I had it all mapped out but producing, marketing and selling automotive paint was not as simple as it sounded. The industry is niche and there various technology and paints that is required for different substrates. A brand manager has a lot of responsibility and needs to have a complete understanding of how each department in the company works in order to be successful. I attended various induction programs, one of them where I received the opportunity to view the spray painting process from start to finish and even do some spray painting myself. Within the first 4 months of being employed I was thrown into the deep end and had to present my brands at the annual automotive conference, where the conference venue was filled majority males (all our distributors that I would be working with and needed to understand).
This was a great learning curve for me as I improved on my presentation and networking skills, got to know all the people I would be working with and got a lot of industry insight. Thereafter, I visited various automotive paint stores to determine how best I could market my brands.
Q: What comes next?
A: There are endless opportunities in the automotive industry as there is a growing demand for vehicle production, especially in passenger vehicles. There is so much more that I still need to experience and learn, people to meet and brands to grow and market within the coatings industry. I currently have a great team and an amazing manager who always provides the support and advise that I require to grow and to motivate others. From all the experiences that I have had so far, I have learnt that self-belief, education and confidence are tools for success which nobody can take away from you. I would like to thank Plascon for providing me with all these opportunities and enabling me to become an independent, encouraging, reliable and patient woman I have become.
Q: What advice do you have for young women out there interested in the Automotive Coatings or other traditionally male dominated industries?
- Stay focussed, have a clear vision of where you want to be.
- Recognise opportunities and work hard to take advantage of those opportunities.
- Get to the point quicker, try and avoid long meeting and advise what needs to be done as quick as possible, this will save your team and yourself a lot of time.
- Don’t take thing personally, get the job done and complete it to the best of your ability, rise above challenges and succeed in the workplace.
- Confidence is key.
- Recognise different personalities and management styles.
- This will assist in becoming a great leader and learning how to communicate effectively with everyone.
- “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s where transformation happens…and that’s how change occurs”.
No doubt that this lady will go from strength to strength, shining her bright star in a traditionally male dominated industry. We are keeping our eyes on you Bavita, and stand behind you 100%.