Shell India brings to us the inspiring story of Rupali, as part of their recent campaign #GreatThingsHappenWhenWeMove. Article sponsored by Shell.
“Sometimes, when you stop looking for something, that’s when it comes to you. In my life, that ‘something’ was my passion for vehicles. I had given it up years ago due to several personal issues, but it eventually found me,” says Rupali A Bhise, a Pune-based fuel station retailer.
In the oil and gas retailing industry, which is highly male-dominated, Rupali is a rare leader paving the way for many more women to join this profession. She is responsible for all site operations. This includes efficient management of the two stations in Maharashtra and taking care of her staff’s safety — making it a high-risk job, which requires her to be on her feet 24×7.
But how did a girl from a humble home in a small village of Maharashtra happen to become an efficient manager with a prominent multinational company like Shell? Here’s how:
Born in a small village called Bela, near Nagpur, Rupali’s journey with vehicles began when she started helping her father out on the farms. “I grew up with two brothers who never took too much interest in farming. I was lucky my parents never discouraged my interest,” says the 35-year-old, adding, “I learnt how to maintain these large vehicles since the time I was in Class 9. It was my responsibility to take care of the tractors and trucks. The more I worked with farming equipment; the more passionate I became about automobiles and how they work.”
But things changed a few years later when her father passed away. A Class 12 student at that time, Rupali was battling with the grief of an unimaginable loss and a newfound sense of responsibility. She began to centre all her efforts around her education. And, while securing a stable future for her family and herself, her passion for automobiles took a backseat.
“Although my mother kept pushing me to follow my passion, I knew I had to support the family, and so I pursued a comparatively ‘conventional field’. In the next few years, I pursued a BSc in Biochemistry and then an MBA. For several years after, I worked in the apparel manufacturing industry, unaware of how fate would turn once again,” she shares.
It had been decades since Rupali last considered a career in automobiles, but life had other plans.
In 2017, as luck would have it, she came across a sign that read that Shell was looking for retailers to join their network. Rupali immediately reached out to Shell India, who were looking out to a diversified workforce. She was supported and trained by Shell to fit the job role and was taken on board as one of the first few women fuel retailers in the country. For her, it was more of a calling — something she had given up after the death of her father and now had a second shot at.
Today, she is the first woman in Shell’s retailer network to run multiple fuel stations. Talking about the challenges of breaking this glass ceiling, she says, “It was tough in the beginning, especially for my brother. It was hard for him to accept that I would be working in this sector. But now, he is proud of what I do and what I have achieved. Throughout this time, I stayed motivated, knowing that I had got a second chance at my dream. I was fortunate. I wanted to be an example for other women joining this sector in the future,” says Rupali, adding that her husband, a food entrepreneur, has been very supportive of her throughout the process.
A widely respected retailer of Shell, Rupali has now become an inspiration for many, with her sheer hard work and dedication.
Shell India recently unveiled the campaign — ‘Great things happen when we move’, in their quest to be a trusted partner and help build the country. Through this campaign, Shell aims to celebrate the indomitable spirit of Indians, their dreams, and aspirations along with their inspiring journeys. The campaign encourages Indian women to keep moving by highlighting the stirring stories of women. The core assertion of their stories is to establish that mobility is a key enabler of people’s progress.