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Shivani

Cell & Battery Excellence Research Engineer,
Ola Battery Innovation Centre

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“I grew up in Baraut - a small town where girls didn’t have many opportunities and were usually married off early. But I lucked out - Papa considered education to be paramount. He’d say, ‘I will let nothing get in the way of my children’s education. Come what may!’ 

Growing up, Papa loved studying - he’d even completed his MA. And just when he'd landed a job, his father grew sick, and Papa had to take over the family farming business. 

So, he always ensured that I got the opportunities in life that he didn’t-he supported me as I completed my BSc, my MSc and later, got into IIT Kharagpur for my MTech. Soon after, when I was 25, I even started planning my PhD. That’s when I received an arranged marriage proposal from a Mumbai-based boy. I thought I’d have to compromise and give up on my education, but to my surprise, he said, ‘Why should marriage be the end of your dreams?’ 

And immediately after getting married, my husband helped me enrol into IIT Bombay for my PhD - I was thrilled! I found myself submerged into the kind of research I’d always wanted to do. Although juggling my PhD while building a home and family was difficult, my husband was by my side every step of the way. 

"He'd prepare my tiffin and cook dinner when I didn’t make it home in time."

"I never had to ask him to step up; he wanted me to thrive!"

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And that’s how the next 5 years passed by. And then, when I was just about to submit my research, I found out that I was pregnant! The joy I felt was unparalleled. I immediately broke the news to my husband, who just hugged me. We were so overwhelmed. 

"Soon after, we found out we were having twins! At first, I was scared, thinking, ‘How will I handle two babies?’ But when I heard the two synchronous heartbeats, my own heart leaped with joy."

The first 3 months went by in celebrations and buying identical things for the babies. I'd also started thinking of names. But then, in the 4th month, I had to be rushed to the hospital - I’d almost miscarried! I was scared out of my mind, and in a lot of pain. Until I heard those two heartbeats again, I couldn’t breathe; when I finally heard them on the ultrasound - it was music to my ears. 

But I was still at risk, and the next 6 months were incredibly difficult. I had to be on bedrest. I'd try to occupy myself by reading books and watching movies. But my health kept deteriorating. In fact, I had to be hospitalised 10 times in a span of 6 months. And each time, I was terrified. 

But with my family’s support and a lot of rest, I finally had my babies - I hugged them close and cried buckets that day. I said, ‘We did it, guys!’ 

Once I'd delivered, my health got better. So, I decided to complete my PhD. Just a month after my babies' birth, I presented my thesis and got my PhD! I had 2 new titles now - mom and doctor. 

Afterwards, I took a break and spent time with my babies… I’d play with them, sing to them, read stories with them and even tell them all about my PhD research. 

Then, after they’d turned 2, I felt like I was ready to get back to work. I dabbled in research for a year, but I was looking for a more hands-on experience-to see my research turn into a product. 

So, when I came across an opening at Ola Electric, it was the perfect opportunity.

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They’d set up an Ola Battery Innovation Center and were looking for people who specialised in batteries. I applied, and shortly after, received my appointment letter! 

I called Papa that day and said, ‘This is all because you supported me, Papa!’ I wouldn't have been here if not for his 'Go, chase your dreams!' He was too emotional to say anything but, ‘I hope you raise your children the same way!’ And that’s what I plan to do - support and empower my children every step of the way. 

It’s been 3 months since I’ve joined Ola-I spend my days innovating and brainstorming with my team, and my evenings are filled with laughter and hugs from my now 3-year-olds! 

"Let’s just say… both the Dr. and Mom inside me are happy!”"

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