Historically, the role of a Central Control Room (CCR) operator has been a male bastion.
For starters, the titles themselves – like production foreman, production fieldsmen – lock the women out. The job primarily involves operating a plant with high efficiency along with technicians and laboratory operators. Additionally, a CCR operator is also responsible to facilitate improvement of existing operational practices for enhanced productivity at a plant.
ACC Cement saw there is nothing about this role that a woman cannot master – and hence, on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2018, announced India’s first batch of all-women CCR Operators who will be trained and skilled through its curated course at its training institute, ACC Cement Technology Institute (ACTI) Jamul.
“Since the job profile involves being present at the plant site for long hours and coordination with field operators, it was considered a job fit only for men. But, it basically requires seamless coordination and communication and hence, this role remains largely gender neutral when it comes to excelling at the job,” says Philip Vinod, Head - Training, ACC Cement Technology Institute.
The three-year course - CRO (Control Room Operator)-cum-Quality Analyst - created by ACC Limited, and launched in September 2017, was an initiative to bridge the gender gap in the cement industry. It is the first-of-its-kind in the industry, and trains women aspirants not only with the required technical skills, but also soft skills.
Those completing the course are subsequently also granted on-the-job experience in order to ready them for the cement industry. The three-year course at ACTI is a step in this direction to bring women at the forefront of several employment opportunities in the sector.
Most girls are either from ACC townships, or neighbouring areas and are well-versed with the industrial work culture. Through ads in and around their cement plants, the company encouraged girls who had passed their 12th grade with Physics, Chemistry and Maths to enroll. Across their Integrated Cement Plants, written tests were arranged, followed by personal interviews by a panel of cement industry experts.
Srisha Badholia, one of the 56 ACTI trainees, says she had always aspired to work in the manufacturing industry, but the society told her that it was not meant for women. The operations of large factories and plants have always fascinated me. However, since I come from a small town, people would always say that this was not the kind of job for a girl, and it was challenging to find suitable courses and education that would prepare me for the job,” she tells YourStory.
ACTI’s course seemed like the right fit, as she saw it as an opportunity to obtain training from renowned experts in the field. “The most exciting part about this role is the skills that one gets to develop, and inculcate on the job. However, my ambition is that the course will help me keep the processes at the plant running at high levels of availability, optimising production rates, reducing energy consumption, and manufacturing quality cement, thus meeting customer demand,” she states.
“My family and friends have been supportive of my dreams and choices and continue to encourage me to excel in my chosen career path. I wish to inspire more young girls that have the same dreams as me, and urge them to not be deterred by societal notions and stereotypes,” she adds, in conclusion.
By the year 2020, all 56 girls will complete their course and be eligible for opportunities at leading manufacturing companies in India. The entire batch will be eligible for employment at leading manufacturing companies in India, upon completion of the course.