As a woman in the male-dominated field of engineering, Harita Byluppala is all too aware of the importance role models play in shaping the ambitions of the young. Now that she has been awarded the first Hilti Scholarship for Women, Byluppala is keen to use her platform to spark the imaginations and encourage the spirits of younger girls interested in pursuing careers in engineering and construction.

“As a female graduate, I know that if I go into the food industry, I can progress quite fast. There are also examples of successful women in the tech industry but if I go into the construction industry, it becomes harder to see those examples of female success,” she said, adding that this is something she has every intention of changing.

An engineer and digital manufacturing consultant, Byluppala recognizes the importance of this inaugural Hilti Scholarship for Women award. Created to support IMD’s female MBAs on their journey into leadership roles within the construction industry, Hilti’s scholarship is aimed at nurturing talent and increasing female representation across the sector.  

Sabine Krauss, Hilti’s Global HR Leader is enthusiastic about the organization’s corporate strategy scholarship award. Just one of its multi-faceted approaches to positively addressing diversity and inclusion, the organization’s intention, she explained, is to refresh construction’s business solutions through encouraging different perspectives and problem-solving skills drawn from multi-generational, globally drawn and gendered teams. 

We are truly happy to be able to contribute to the education of female IMD scholars, particularly in terms of promoting women in the construction industry. We believe that broader, more diverse representation adds a great deal of value, both for our customers and our internal teams,” she said. 

In what appears to have been perfect pairing, Byluppala’s essay focused on the importance of attracting more women into the construction industry and offered examples of how this could be achieved. Her submission caught the attention of judges and led to her being granted the CHF 25K award as well as access to mentoring and networking opportunities through Hilti’s considerable global network.  

Byluppala trained as a chemical engineer and her most recent role, as digital manufacturing consultant at Nestlé, involved several digital projects aimed to create energy efficiency across production lines. Her decision to undertake an MBA program was driven by a growing awareness that engineering innovations were increasingly directing business solutions, innovations, and strategies.

“This is a golden period for engineers. Be it in data, sustainability, space, energy, mechanical or chemical, engineering is heavily driving innovation and successful businesses. While I enjoy doing the technical stuff, I noticed value was lost in translation from the commercial side to the technical side or vice versa. I realized that if I really wanted to make an impact, I needed to know both sides of business innovation,” she explained.  

Byluppala is enthusiastic about the opportunities for female representation that the Internet of Things and the introduction of digital solutions in the construction industry will enable.  

Having witnessed the representational shift encouraged by the IT industry through programs and groups such as GirlsWhoCode and WomenInTech, she believes that digital offers pathways of progression in industries that have overlooked women thus far. She also wants to be a role model for young, female engineers for whom female representation signifies a pathway towards the fulfillment of their own aspirations.    

“I want to bring the technical and commercial sides closer to drive innovation and generate maximum value for consumers. I am committed to taking up a path that has not seen many women succeed within it and aim to normalize it. Women belong to the C-suite and that is what I am working towards,” she said.  

Currently working hard on her MBA, Byluppala is driven by the purpose to offer other women a pathway into male-dominated fields and is quietly confident of the broader perceptual shifts that could lead to.

Changing [societal] perceptions is like a big elephant that we can't tackle right now. But once you get a critical mass of female representation within an industry, their presence will eventually lead to that,” she said.

Byluppala’s steady determination is quite something to behold and her desire to help other young women by modeling success offers a window into a more diverse and perspective-enriched future for the construction industry. Her formidable efforts may well succeed in proving the adage: "if she can see it, she can be it".