Dr Hema Wadhwa is an Oil and Gas engineer based in Perth who was hand-picked by the magazine Skilled Migrant Professionals, as one of the top 25 achievers in Australia in the year 2017.
Hema was born and brought up in Punjab, India, and she completed Bachelor of Sciences in Chandigarh before coming to Perth for higher studies.
"I wanted to go into the Indian army and had cleared my SSB exams and everything. Then my father spoke to me and said he would support any decision I took - whether it was to start working in the army, or to pursue higher studies. I thought about it and decided I wanted to do my masters," says Hema.
Hear Hema Wadhwa in an interview with SBS Punjabi
Hema came to Perth, Australia, to pursue her higher studies in Mechanical Engineering, and whilst completing her Masters degree, she was offered a fully paid scholarship to undertake a PhD in Oil and Gas Engineering.
She has since excelled in her chosen field, defying the common conception that STEM studies are for males only. She has presented papers at many universities in various countries, with a big highlight of her career being working in Houston (USA) with NASA.
Hema agrees that she works in a male- dominated industry and laughs off saying, "Usually I'm the only female in any workplace meeting, and by default, the presenter will sign off saying 'thanks gentlemen, we'll see you again'; and then there's a big roar of laughter when they realise I'm in the room as well."
"Being a woman has never deterred me. I'm extremely passionate about my job - I simply love what I do. I walk, talk, sleep and dream about my work - I honestly love it", says Hema.
In the context of SBS's Face up to Racism week, Hema said, "I have never faced any form of racism at all. Never. In fact I work at a very diverse workplace, and it is almost intuitive for everyone to respect their colleagues, regardless of their country of origin."
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Face Up To Racism #FU2Racism with a season of stories and programs challenging preconceptions around race and prejudice. Tune in to watch Is Australia Racist? (airs on Sunday 26 February at 8.30pm), Date My Race (airs Monday 27 February at 8.30pm) and The Truth About Racism (airs Wednesday 1 March at 8.30pm). Watch all the documentaries online after they air onSBS On Demand.