Name: Kim Nicole Dalby
Title: Manager in Power-to-X
Degree: PhD in Magma
- Introduce yourself, and share a fun fact that makes you unique!
My name is Kim Nicole Dalby, I was born in 1980 and I hold a PhD in Magma (2007). Despite having an extremely Danish name, I am Australian. I had no idea my last name was Danish until I moved to Denmark.
- What does a day in your life look like as a Manager at Topsøe?
I am a manager (some would say line manager) in Power-to-X at Topsøe A/S: Our team is responsible for taking Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC) technology from the lab and turning into something that can be fabricated at the industrial scale. My day can never be predicted and something almost always crops up that changes what I had planned, but a typical day involves a mix of building relationships, staying current on the safety and technological advances happening in the projects and the labs, and all the management and HR work that goes into aligning a team. Then there are the drop-ins that happen – these are some of my favourites because I can never guess the questions, I will get asked.
- What motivates and excites you the most about your career path and the leadership position you hold?
I switched from being a scientist to a manager in January 2023. One of the biggest motivations for that move was to make a difference by helping and enabling people to thrive (instead of through creating scientific knowledge). Another motivation was to join the field of Power-to-X technology, which will change the course of the climate emergency.
- Share with us the biggest lessons you learned on your journey to where you are today.
The biggest lesson so far is that I didn’t know I had what it took to be a manager/leader until someone approached me and asked if I would consider a career change. I feel like a lot of my other strengths are being used to a better degree now than at any other point in my career.
To manage and lead, you must be prepared to receive feedback and to find out things about yourself that are difficult to learn. You also need to be prepared for your day to look different than what you had planned. And you need to find people to help you out- no reason to waste time re-inventing the wheel.
- Tell us about a (female) role model who inspired you to become the leader you are today, and how (s)he impacted you personally or professionally.
There is no one specific person, but there does seem to be some commonality between those who have inspired me. They are people who are empathetic, who listen and who recognize that although I am not driven by ambition (to be promoted or to get recognition) there was room for me to grow and who offered me opportunities when they arose.
- If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, or to other young female students today, what would it be?
Note: this advice comes from a CISHET white women with no disabilities. I have had privileges and have been offered opportunities that are not available to everyone in the same way.
Do not be afraid to try new things, even if they seem scary. Ask for help. And listen to the advice you are given (before getting defensive or making up excuses).
Your career path is not set in stone or defined by your degree. In high school, Chemistry was by far my worst grade, and I ended up being an Associate Professor of Chemistry. You and your career are allowed to change and wander as you find out more about yourself and what drives you.
- How do you see STEM education shaping the future?
STEM education has been shaping the future for decades, and now is no exception. The climate emergency (including water scarcity), the energy crisis, Artificial Intelligence, our reliance on computing technology and social media – these are all areas where we need STEM people to innovate, develop and teach the not only the next generation, but to really tell the older generations that we need to do things differently now.
- Why is it important for you to promote diversity and inclusion within STEM?
When you are led by people who look like you, who think like you and who communicate in a way that you can understand, it just makes everything so much easier. Since we cannot be all those things to everyone, we need to make sure our places of employment hire as many different people as possible to help foster inclusivity and to help people really feel comfortable being themselves at work. Because when you can be authentic, and when you feel included in communication, that is when you will really succeed.
- What steps do you see that your company taken to promote a more diverse and inclusive workplace?
Driven by our CEO we have revived our DE&I committee in 2023. This committee is rooted in our Senior Leadership team, which has been shown to increase its effectivity. We have defined key DE&I pillars and why they are important to us as company. We have introduced a gender decoder to find subtle bias in job ads and we have started to educate leaders to avoid bias in recruitment activities. We have a clear DE&I message included in the welcome video made by Roeland (our CEO) to all new joiners. We have included questions related to diversity and inclusion for the first time in our engagement survey. And we are just getting started.