My Story: Raghuvaran Chakkravarthy
I came from a little, happy family and never worried about the future or what I would do with my life – until I suffered a major setback. I failed in secondary school. My parents were devastated. For the first time in my life I saw my dad cry. That day, I promised myself that I would make my parents proud.
Somehow I managed to pass higher secondary school on my second attempt. My parents believed in me and secured a mechanical engineering seat in another province. I left home at age 16 to continue my education.
From my first day in college, I was desperate to succeed in my studies. Fortunately, I finished my first year successfully. As the years passed, however, I started to revert to my younger years – I failed to focus on my studies. Eventually I was in my final year but had no idea about what I’d be doing next.
My dad was still struggling to pay my fees. The situation forced me to find a part-time job so I could complete my studies. I joined a local newspaper agent to sell and deliver daily newspapers. I had no days off. I had to work, no matter what happened, whether it was rain, a hurricane, etc. I managed to pass my exams and earn my diploma.
On the first day after my graduation, I traveled to the nearest city, Chennai, India. Somehow, I managed to land a job in construction. I was able to eat three times a day and pay my rent. I had to learn the work and survive in this world. I worked 14-16 hours a day to learn everything I could about the construction industry as a construction engineer. Gradually I started to love it.
I still remember those sweet (a different word might be better), long days when I was working on a local project. I was working for a prime contractor and they were working hard to deliver the project on time. I had no time to eat or rest. I ended up getting sick and was admitted to the hospital a few times for low blood pressure. Despite this, the only thing on my mind was how to deliver the project on time. Nothing else! That’s how much I loved construction.
As the days rolled by, things improved, including my health. I completely surrendered myself to safety in construction and fell in love with the job, and my safety journey has continued from that point. I’ve had opportunities to work in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Iraq; Afghanistan; Africa; and the United States.
The day I moved to Dubai, my life completely changed. I realized that education and knowledge were the most important things on the safety journey. So, I started taking certification courses and obtained the prestigious international BCSP-IOSH certification.
The turning point was in 2013/2014, when I got a call from Gilbane Building Co. It was my former boss calling. “Where are you, man? We got the project. Do you want to come and help?” All I said was, “Yes, let’s do it!”
I couldn’t ask for a better place to work. Thanks to Gilbane’s employee education assistance program, I completed a Master of Science in safety, graduating from a U.S. university. Today, after almost eight years with Gilbane, I enjoy every single day at work.
This is my personal journey. My lessons from it are: Stay positive. Spread positivity. Keep working hard, and let the time do the rest. Love what you do. Reach out to me anytime for help on safety. I love to help my fellow professionals any time, from anywhere. Let’s build a safer and better world for the future!
Raghuvaran Chakkravarthy, MS, GSP, CHST, PMP, PMI-RMP, GradIOSH, STSC
Safety Director, Federal Division
Gilbane Building Co.
United Arab Emirates