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Good leaders never have a bad day: Q and A with Revathi Advaithi of Eaton Corp.



Revathi Advaithi wants to see more women enter her chosen career field: mechanical engineering.

“My personal view is we have to make this exciting not just at the college level, but at the school level,” Ms. Advaithi said. “We have to make that priority where science and math is an exciting option for girls going through school. At Eaton, we do a lot of work trying to figure out how we move the needle.”

Eaton Corp., a Cleveland company whose electrical sector is based Moon, works with the Carnegie Science Center and the Society of Women Engineers to influence women to pursue mechanical engineering. Eaton also participates in mentoring programs and collaborates with colleges to look for female engineers, Ms. Advaithi said.

In 2011, women made up about half of the overall work force. but only one quarter of the workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) were women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau; only 18 percent earned bachelor‘‍s degrees in engineering in 2013, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project, an organization that encourages girls to pursue STEM careers. 

But the numbers of women getting into the field are growing, she added. 

An Eaton spokesman could not give a total on how many female mechanical engineers the company employs, but said women work in a variety of functions and fields, including engineering. The company has manufacturing facilities in Beaver, Meadow Lands, and Warrendale, which houses its Power Systems Experience Center.

Eaton’s global headquarters is in Dublin, Ireland, and it has locations in countries such as Panama, Egypt and Norway. Ms. Advaithi is in charge of the company‘‍s electrical business sector in the Americas. The mother of two began her career an operations engineer in the mid-1990s and has worked at Eaton locations in countries as diverse as China and England.

“Culturally, of course, you have to get sensitized to each country. Asia-Pacific was extremely challenging because we lived in Shanghai and we didn’t speak any Chinese. The growth that is happening in Asia and how your company has evolved — to take that opportunity to the next level — you only get there by experiencing it,” she said.

Q: What are some of the most courageous actions or unpopular stands you have taken during your career?

A: At many points in your career when you’re trying to change everyday practices from where you are to where you should be ... those are not easy decisions and not easy to present to an organization. Those have been extremely difficult. Selling change and selling the vision of where you want to go is never an easy thing to do, but good leaders do that well. 

Q: How many hours do you work a week and why?

A: It changes a lot. There isn’t a set number of hours — it’s really based on what’s going on at that point in time. There are times when I try to decrease them because there are things happening with my kids. At Eaton we have tremendous flexibility in how we manage our hours. I could be working from home, the kids’ playground, a customer’s location ... it really doesn’t matter to us. Now with summer I try to reduce the amount of number I work because the kids are at home. I would say an average of 50 to 60 hours.

Q: What is the best piece of advice ever given to you?

A: I have one that stands out and use all the time: Good leaders never have a bad day. Really strong leaders are able to be calm, collected and lead a situation. I know that’s hard to imagine, but that’s really important to remember. You can never have a bad day and [you] have to show people where they can go even when times are tough.

Madasyn Czebiniak: mczebiniak@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1269. Twitter: @PG_Czebiniak

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