NirmalyaDespite the strides women have made towards equality, they remain under-represented in many professions. And one such field is the shipping industry, commonly associated with men. But here is a female role model from a small town in Kerala who proves to the world that the fast developing industry on learning about the engineering of ships is by setting and reaching competitive goals. Nirmalya Sohan Roy was elected as the first female president of the Faculty of Ship Science in a 115-year old university in Southampton through an online voting process in May.

She is just 21 and in her last year of her 4 year undergraduate masters course. No doubt, her family of Naval architects led her way and Nirmalya would be graduating with an MEng Ship Science degree by 2018 academic year-end. 

Whether she entered the field with a passion for boats or sea, or family history, or education, one thing is certain. Her love for what she does and doing it well; and you will succeed. Shipping alone is not on Nirmalya’s mind. She enjoys her visit to her home town of Guruvayur every year, the temple music, the lush greenery and of course the Kerala monsoons. Nirmalya takes time from her schedule to talk about her passion to mathrubhumi.com

You have become the first woman president of the ship science faculty. How do you feel about your elevation?

NirmalyaI feel so honoured to behold such a title. I had my mind set on becoming the president of Ship Science by the time I graduate since my first year at university. Hence, I worked my way up to ensure I truly deserved it.

What actually is Ship Science and what does it deal with. Give us some insight into this?

Ship Science is an integrated Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering degree program at The University of Southampton in England. It is known to be the best in Europe. I am currently in my last year of the Master’s degree programme.

Where have you done your basic education?

I grew up in UAE, where I finished primary & High School at the International School of Choueifat. I then moved to England for my higher studies.

How did you enter into a completely male-dominated field. What made you evince interest in this?

I come from a family of Naval Architects. I was exposed to the maritime field at a very young age. Naval Architecture seemed a lot more interesting due to its niche but diverse field.

Does women take more active roles in shipping related fields?  Is the shipbuilding industry encouraging more women.

Most certainly, even though there is still a high ratio of men to women. I don’t think there is any way the shipbuilding industry can encourage more women, apart from changing the way people think about women working in the industry. I believe people presume if it isn’t an office job, it is not job for women.

What about your family. Is anyone from your family lineage in this line?

nirmalyaMy dad, Sohan Roy, is a naval architect and a marine engineer. My dad’s brother, Dr.Pyarilal, is also a naval architect and a professor at Cochin University. My mom is an interior designer and runs her own business.

When did you last visit Kerala and how often you visit your homeland?

I visit Kerala during every summer holidays. This summer was the first time I did not go back to Kerala because of my 2- month internship in a Shipyard. The Kerala monsoon reminds me of my childhood days at my grandmom’s house in Guruvayur. I come from a very big family, we are all very close to one another. That is why I always look forward to going to Kerala during the months of June and July.

Has any of these caught your attention when you visit your homeland, greenery, education, language and of course Onam?

Yes of course, I absolutely adore the greenery. A combination of moist air, burning wood in the stove, music from the temple and the early morning atmosphere is something I can only cherish when I’m in my hometown. I can’t say much about the education because I have never lived in India or studied Indian Syllabus.  But social media is definitely having a huge influence on the young generation.

What are your future plans? What do you aim after this?

My aim is to become a chartered engineering. For that, I need to have at least 5 years of working experience. Therefore, I plan on working in a shipyard or a naval architecture firm. Hopefully, somewhere in the Netherlands because that is where the main shipbuilding hub is.

Do you intend to get back to India and work here?

I would always go back to India for visits but I don’t see myself working there. I believe there are still many things that need to change in order for women to truly excel in their career. Times are definitely changing, women are becoming bolder which is a good thing but there are still many barriers.