#WomenExcel, Impact

Priya Muralidharan Nair (second from left at the table) discusses diversity and inclusion on a recent panel.

I began my exciting journey with AECOM in 2010, but first let me share the steps I took before I arrived here. I am Priya – pronounced pree-yah, meaning “beloved one” in Sanskrit, which is the oldest language in the world. I grew up in the southernmost Indian state of Kerala — often referred to as “God’s own country” for its lush greenery and alluring backwaters. My home state — with the highest literacy rate in the country — had its own bearing on nurturing me as a child and shaping my outlook as a young adult.

My parents believed in empowering the girl child, which is not always the case in various Indian states, so they sent me to the best schools and colleges, which sowed a global outlook in me. I could embrace diversity and believed everyone else could as well. Diversity to me was a blessing for the world until I realized that it could bring on challenges for people because of where they come from, their color and/or their gender.

A whole new world unfurled before me when I moved to the Middle East. One may find it strange that in the first few days in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), I found the consistency of the place, the cleanliness, the meticulously planned roads, the traffic that flowed in line — all absolutely monotonous. I missed the vibrancy of the chaos that I left behind in my hometown.

Having done my post-graduate degree in mass communication and journalism, I started off my career in 2004 as a technical writer with a top information technology (IT) services company in India. I followed my husband to the U.A.E. in 2006 and joined the IT department of the country’s national government group. After four years of service without seeing much career growth within a largely rigid organization, I decided to leave the comfortable, seven-hour work day arrangement for a more organic and challenging career. The search ended at AECOM when I joined the Capital District infrastructure development project in Abu Dhabi as a specifications writer. My decision to join AECOM came quickly as, undoubtedly, the company had the reputation and global presence I was looking for.

No two days have been the same at AECOM.  The project brought interesting challenges and learning opportunities each day.  It wasn’t easy to build my way into the A-team on the project, but consistent quality in delivery, perseverance and adaptability can indeed take you places. AECOM demands that kind of delivery and prepares you to meet those expectations. When the top executives moved to work on the Etihad Rail project — the U.A.E.’s first-ever national railway project — I was asked to take up the role of the reports specialist on the project.

Working with a joint venture team on the Etihad Rail project offered its own challenges. I picked up key coordination and interfacing skills along with knowledge of project management procedures. After two years on the project, I wished to broaden my horizon and ventured into the world of marketing and work winning.

With nearly three years working in proposal coordination and management, I am confident that AECOM as an organization values key talent, and has presented me with diverse and challenging opportunities. The company has always intrigued me to learn and enhance my skills and contribute to the organization, which has now led me to pursue an MBA in strategic leadership and management from the Cardiff Metropolitan University in the U.K.

Outside of work, AECOM has given me the opportunity to purse my interests in corporate social responsibility (CSR). I sit as one the key members of the company’s Middle East CSR team, and have also had the opportunity to engage with, and be part of, women’s initiatives in the region. With diversity and Inclusion being a cause that is close to my heart, I was also able to sit on panel discussions addressing diversity challenges.

AECOM is immensely diverse in terms of culture, academics, interests and experience, and the learning curve here is steep and steady. At AECOM, only you can stop yourself from making the best of the opportunities provided to you.

Please comment below to share the opportunities AECOM has provided you, and be sure to use the #WomenExcel hashtag when you share this post on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.

Priya_BW_89x100Priya Muralidharan Nair is a post graduate employee with a degree in mass communication and journalism. She has a passion for people, literature, movies and Indian classical dance. Priya works as a proposal specialist (work winner) within the Middle East Work Winning team under AECOM’s strategy and growth group in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India.
LinkedIn: Priya Muralidharan Nair

Originally published Mar 12, 2015

Author: Priya Muralidharan Nair