A leader who takes challenges head-on, a dotting mother and a helping hand in times of crisis, E. Malarvizhi is truly a woman of substance. Malarvizhi, who is currently working at the IOCL (Indian Oil Corporation Limited) Aviation department as General Manager has been honoured with prestigious awards for her exemplary work in the field of oil and gas industry. While she is an achiever, she empowers other women to do better. In a male-dominated industry, Malarvizhi is among one of the few women in the country who is in a leadership position. Being one of the celebrated female executives at the IOCL, let’s take a look at her journey from being a small-town girl from Arani, Tamil Nadu to being an executive at India’s renowned oil company, and how she is making a difference with her work.
About your early days, how and when did you become a part of IOCL?
I started my career in IOC’s Gujarat Refinery in 1993 as a Graduate Engineer Trainee. Then I worked as a Process Engineer, in the Technical Services Department. I’ve handled challenging assignments in several units at the Refinery. Subsequently, I shifted to the Marketing Division. Possessing vast experience in the field of Aviation and working as Location in-charge at Bangalore as well as at Arakkonam, I steadily rose to my current position of the General Manager (Aviation), Western Region.
How is IOCL contributing to the development of women?
Women leadership development programs are being conducted to groom women in middle management to achieve the individual’s potential with inputs on leadership as well as motivation. Things have certainly started evolving towards the progress of women now.
Another initiative that comes to mind is the Indian Oil Vidushi, which was launched in Bhubaneswar wherein underprivileged girls are coached for JEE entrance exams free of cost.
What kind of challenges did you face at the beginning of your career? And how did you overcome those?
During the initial period of my career, I’ve had to work in shifts including night shifts which were very challenging. I’ve handled many critical tasks in a difficult situation such as the Chennai floods, which was a hard time for everyone but was further exacerbated in my case as I had to also take care of my younger son who was then 7 years old. During my recent posting at Arakkonam, I was travelling around 150 km up and down on a daily basis, since my kids were alone at home. It was extremely challenging to achieve a work-life balance while working long hours as a Location In-Charge with minimal manpower.
With unconditional love and support from my family, friends and my Indian Oil family, I’ve been able to give my 100%. My commitment towards work was acknowledged with the Petrofed’s Women Executive of the year award 2009 for the Oil & Gas Industry, which was an immensely proud moment for me and my family.
What does women empowerment mean to you?
Women must ideally be able to do things independently without the inherent fear of additional consequences that currently poses a hindrance to many of us today. We should move from an age-old tradition of oppression, not just by claiming that discrimination doesn’t exist today or isn’t as bad as before, but by fighting this ignorance, identifying and acknowledging areas of systemic oppression that exist today.
According to you what are the factors that lead to the upliftment of women?
I would say education is the first and foremost factor. Not just education in the school-like sense but a more encompassing one, wherein, we raise awareness about the issues we face and get more people to acknowledge disparities. This would be closely followed by addressing more specific issues like the need for financial independence, equipping women with the courage to face the world’s problems independently and to speak out when discriminated against.
What is your take on feminism? Do you think it is the key to societal development?
According to me, feminism is: Not waiting around for the rights and opportunities to eventually come to us, but making the efforts to appeal for what should have already been given to us. Feminism is: Acknowledging the ways in which women are discriminated against, systemically or otherwise, and providing an environment for us to speak out in various situations.
It is definitely the key to societal development, simultaneously with the struggles against all other forms of discrimination, for there is no unbiased world in a world that doesn’t have proportional representation.
Any message you would like to give to women pursuing a career in the oil and gas industry?
Opportunities are available in plenty, some easy to find and others not, to showcase our talents which will be recognised – If not today, definitely tomorrow. Be confident, never give up, be practical, focus on your goals. Keeping everything aside, at the end of the day, it’s the one who truly works hard with passion and pushes forward with their ambitions and a clear mind who will most likely succeed.