In celebration of Women's History Month, Brunel's Nathália Starck - Regional Driver and Strategic Manager, Renewable Energy, Americas - will be doing a series of interviews spotlighting inspiring, powerful women within the Renewable Energy industry. Nathália has spent her career advocating for diversity and equity in the industry and was very excited to get to highlight the women blazing trails in the industry today.
This is her second interview of the series, featuring Kim Gould - Global Human Resources Director for Convertus - a company created in 2019 as a result of the merger between Renewi Canada and Waste Treatment Technologies, a Dutch-based engineering firm.
You can read the first interview of the series with Shadé Ladipo - Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Manager for Capital Power - here.
Meet Kim Gould
Kim Gould is an experienced, strategic, and passionate Human Resources Director, who has extended experience in healthcare, telecommunications, travel, and distribution organizations. She has over fifteen years’ experience developing people and culture initiatives which have driven performance, increased organizational effectiveness, and transformed leadership potential.
Can you share with us about your career path?
I started in HR 17 years ago, so it's been almost 2 decades since I started in HR.I didn't start in it right out of university. I did my university at Simon Fraser in psychology.
Unless you're going to go on and be a psychologist, there's not not a lot to do with that. So I spent some time doing some admin work and then at the same time I was taking some part time classes to because I wanted to see what I wanted to do.
Post Diploma at ABCITA, I started working in recruitment for Vancouver Coastal Health right out of school.
In school, my least favorite topic was recruitment, and that was my first drop. So I spent a couple of years there, but it was very cool because with Vancouver coastal UM it was a very woman dominated industry because it's healthcare. So I got to work with a lot of amazing women there. But I also got a lot of opportunities to do things outside of recruitment. I was there for, I think 2 years and then I left up to the travel industry and the reason why I left Vancouver Coastal was because I was still so new to HR. I really wanted to get that generalist experience. I could have stayed at VCH and moved up in the recruitment department. But for me it was more important to get exposure to all the areas of HR to figure out where I wanted to specialize.
It turned out that I didn't want to specialize in the end because I've been a generalist now ever since, but again I moved to another women dominated industry. Tge travel industry is very much all women and I was able to work with some amazing women that were running things. A woman was pretty much running the entire organization that I originally worked for, and then I also added the travel agency to my portfolio later on and that was what run by a group of amazing women there as well. So I had some really great experiences and role models.
I had a lot of exposure to women in leadership positions right from the beginning. Which I think is unusual for a lot of people to have the opportunity to work in companies with such great women representation in leadership positions.Kim Gould - Human Resources Director - Convertus
You know, you kind of go into the those junior roles and you see men leading organisations. So I think that really gave me confidence, and I never doubted that I could ever be in a leadership position as a woman, which I think, you know, I look back now and I think how fortunate was I that I had that exposure right from the beginning of my career. And it wasn't on purpose. Like I didn't pick those industries because they were led by women. I just, you know, picked him because of, you know, the job sounded interesting kind of thing, right. So, I didn't recognize the impact that would have on me until, you know, you get older and you kind of look backwards. So very, very fortunate to to have that exposure right from the beginning.
And then I actually moved to two my last two industries have been very male dominated. So I've had the complete opposite perspective, but still some really great women and both industries have really wanted to change from being male dominated with the challenge to include more women and be more inclusive, have a more diverse population and give opportunities to have more women on the leadership team.So that's, you know, been really kind of interesting to go through as well.
Figuring out strategies on how to get women into male dominant industries where you know it's not something that women generally look towards as a career. It's been very challenging for sure.
What attracted you to the Renewable Energy sector, and what do you love the most about the industry?
In my case, I really loved the opportunity with Convertus, I understood that it wasn’t just about making a profit. But you know, when I moved into travel and then when I was in my last position was electrical distribution, you know, the companies are there to make a profit.
Obviously we need to make a profit because otherwise we wouldn't be in business. But that's not the main reason why we're in business. You know, our purpose really is closing that loop you know so that we can have a sustainable future and as I move forward in my career, what I realize is that I want to generate a positive impact.
I got to that point in my career where I started thinking about: what is the legacy that I'm leaving to the world? I wanted to be able to help a company that was doing something good for the world and be part of this transformation. So this is how I ended up moving into renewables industry. I was looking for something more purpose driven than profit driven or revenue driven. And I recognized that when I interviewed with Convertus.Kim Gould - Human Resources Director - Convertus
What are your biggest achievements since you've started in this industry?
When I started working with Convertus, we were still developing and shaping our company values and culture, as we were a newly merged company. I loved the opportunity to be part of this process. Also, I believe I've contributed with a holistic view to support people’s career growth, I want to help them to be better than when they started, so I've been able to provide those opportunities, helping managers coaching people, supporting employee to grow and develop their careers. Our objectives as a team is to promote and celebrate every milestone towards women’s equality in our company. We celebrate every time we hire a woman, we want to make sure they feel welcomed, that we are providing the appropriate infrastructure for them to their jobs.
Our leadership team genuinely value a diverse and inclusive representation, they have a genuine intention to make things different.
You know it is a male dominated industry, but they really want to change that and have much greater representation, both women, but in all ethnicities and everything else as well.
What are the most important values to you as a People leader?
I think that for me, providing those growth opportunities and just but personally as well growth is a is a big, big value of mine. So you know as a leader I want to provide as many opportunities both to my direct team, but also obviously as HR to the entire company for people to grow. You know, it's not always about professional growth. It can be about personal growth.
We have a Program right now that everybody is going through and I've had so many people tell me they cannot believe how applicable this is to my personal life. They actually use it more in my personal life than they use it in their professional life. So you know, being able to provide those opportunities to people as my way of paying it forward because I've been fortunate to have many, many great opportunities to grow from the companies that I've worked for.
The second one would be honesty. That's one of my personal values that comes through in both my professional and personal life. I think it's important to lead with as much transparency as you can. It can be difficult in HR because we're bound by so much confidentiality, but I find that as long as you tell somebody, you know that there's a reason, you know, 'yes, I do have the answer, but no, at this point, I can't share that with you. But I will in the future,' I think as long as you're honest with people, they will receive that well.
So I think it's important to do that. You know, both personally and professionally. I think it's important and it. Yeah, people recognize that.I think that that helps build the trust in the organization.
And my third one is fairness. Something I've learned in my career is that it's not about treating people the same, but it's about treating people equitably. So it's really about fairness and recognizing people's differences and then coming up with a solution that works for them. But you know, it's not necessarily going to be exactly the same way that you're going to feed everybody, but it's really important to recognize the differences between people and and then treat them in a way that is fair to them.Kim Gould - Human Resources Director - Convertus
And I think, you know, one of the examples that was always used with me is, you know, are you going to treat a woman who has arrived late because their kid was puking and they were late to get them today, core versus, you know, maybe a man who comes in single, no kids.
And just was late, right? Like you're just not going to treat them the same. So you know, in this interview, we're talking about women. I think it's really, really important to understand that many women are solely responsible for making sure that their families are off to school and all of those kind of things. So I think it's important to recognize that not everybody can be treated exactly the same way and they shouldn't be.
How can we turn the energy transition into an opportunity to address existing gender gaps in talent acquisition and retention?
It's such an important thing for women to be involved in things like the renewable energy sector and sustainable activities because women and girls tend to bear the impact of climate impacts.
Women have a disproportionate responsibility for securing food, water and fuel. When we think about inclusion, if we're not considering the inclusion of half the world's population it's unlikely that solutions for a sustainable planet and a gender equal world tomorrow will be realized.
It's essential that we bring women into the sustainable energy sector. It's not a nice to have, it's a need to have.Kim Gould - Human Resources Director - Convertus
I think we have to address the existing gender gaps, but it's very difficult. You know, I was thinking about it and we get, like I said, we get very excited when we were able to hire a woman, but that's because we get so few resumes from women. It's such a especially for what we do, it's such a stereotypical male-dominated industry, right? Because you know specially on our front line, they're driving big heavy equipment loader operators and many women don't ever see that as a career option. So, I think it's really important that you know, as a society we start identifying women and men's type of roles.
But also as an industry, I think you know going forward we're going to have to educate people, you know, women in particular of the rules that are available because it's something that they've probably never thought of, you know?
And, it's funny. But if you get one woman into it and quite often you'll end up with two or three. So that happened in our one of our plants. We had a a female loader operator and now, it's not a lot, but we're up to two. So you know we're able to see someone representing group, then I understand what’s possible. I didn't even consider that possibility before seeing someone doing it.
So I think we have to, you know as far as recruitment goes I think we have to do more, for lack of better word marketing, right? Like we need to be able to say that, you know, these are options for women in our industry. We're fortunate in that quite a few of our positions can be our more engineering related. So there's been a big push in the last few years to have more women in STEM type roles, which includes engineering. So we see more women coming through and applying for our Co-op programs and applying for some of our process positions, which is great.
What are some of the barriers to women entering the industry in your opinion?
Having a family is considered a barrier. No matter how much you want it not to be a barrier. I think it's always going to be a big challenge because there's a period of time where you just not in the workforce to be considered for those promotions.
You know it might come off when somebody is off on mat leave, they don't know about it. There's there's always those things. I think there's a way for us to deal with it better, but I think as a business community in general, I don't think we deal with that very well yet. I believe it’s important to break the stereotypes and have the support and buy in from the senior leadership team in all initiatives to make a real transformation in the workplace.
Another thing about us: Having values and purpose I think is important because I feel like women are more connected with an organization that genuinely cares.Kim Gould - Human Resources Director - Convertus
What has been the greatest lesson you learn in our career? And a piece of advice for young professionals starting their careers in renewable energy sector.
So I think I kind of alluded to it before, but I think my greatest lesson has always been to stay open to learning and to growth and really just stay humble.
I learned very early on that I'm never going to know everything, and that is probably my greatest asset because it allows me to be curious to ask questions. But it also allows me as a leader to use my team - and to have a team that I believe that a great leader will have - a team that knows more than you do.
So that's always something that you know that I try to to be humble about his. I don't know everything they're going to be better at things than I am. That's not my role to know everything.
And then my biggest piece of advice would be to find mentors that you admire and that are willing to help you grow up. Because those are the people that you can learn from and they'll help you to shape yourself into the professional that you want to be.
Also be willing to share your experience. You can definitely inspire someone that's maybe currently working in the travel industry or maybe working in some other industries that may be interested renewables. You can show them that it's also something that they can do. Maybe they can bring you know my experience to this new industry because definitely we have important shortages in our workforce if we think about it.
Thank you to Kim Gould
Thank you to Kim Gould for sitting down with our Nathália Starck to discuss her life and her career as part of our Women's History Month Spotlight Series.
Nathália will be continuing her interview series throughout this month and into the months to come because fostering female representation in the industry is an important part of Brunel's Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy year-round.