Koura celebrates International Women's Day 2021

International Women's Day (March 8th) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. .

The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #ChooseToChallenge. "A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change. So let's all choose to challenge."

One of our core values is to embrace diversity, something we believe is crucial to advancing life around the world. So this year, we're celebrating some of the incredible women working across Koura, by sharing their experience and advice for women aspiring to pursue STEM careers.

Stephanie Reiss, Market Development Manager

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

Science, exploring, and understanding the invisible world have always fascinated me. I recall that when I was a young child, I experimented with mixing toothpaste with soil, vinegar, and milk to see how those matters interact. It was in a way the beginning of my career as a chemist! Curiosity is one key driver, open mind is another essential one.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

I would advise girls and women to be confident in their choices and curiosity towards the world, and to be proud of what they have to offer. I would also encourage women or girls to never positioned themselves differently just because they are women. I think we need to treat all people fairly and honestly, regardless of their gender, and focus on keeping the passion and enthusiasm alive in our work every single day.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

Many things come to my mind with this question. Koura is a global group with great values, of which I personally and professionally approve. It is important to work in a company where your own values match up. The behaviour of colleagues, their mentalities, the way they manage their teams and the business, their kindness and dedication to helping you integrate into the team and company - all of this is also essential to me.

I am also very proud to work in Orbia's community of companies, where the motto of advancing life around the world is not just words. Orbia's new transformation journey is one in which I want to continue to play a great role.

And within Koura, we are developing new products for new markets, focusing on customer-centric and eco-friendly designs, thanks to our new Low Global Warming Potential refrigerants. The company needs these products in order to proactively prepare the future, for the benefit of our customers and the planet.

Vanessa Webster, SHE Administration and Analytical Chemistry

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

I have always loved science and exploring the why and how things work, or don't work! The challenge of this always keeps my job interesting and fascinating.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

I believe science is for everyone. It doesn't discriminate, it can only empower and that is a fantastic thing to be a part of.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

My favourite part of my role is overcoming challenges when working on an experiment, it is so satisfying when something works the way you want to after much hard work. It is the most rewarding thing. And for those experiments that do not work, they only push you to keep trying and exploring new ideas which only adds to the delight of my work.

Dr. Rusul Al-Rubaay, Refrigeration Material Chemist

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

There are a number of reasons why I chose to go into a STEM-associated role. Professionals with STEM skills get to live and work on the cutting edge. It can count on more job security in a STEM career, professionals working in STEM fields are less likely to be unemployed.I wanted to learn transferable skills.There is something for everyone, all STEM fields tend to focus on solving problems and creating new knowledge. And there are many benefits; the average salary, the low unemployment rate in the sector and the projected percentage increase in all occupations & STEM jobs for the future.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

Follow your heart, Find what sparks your interest, and tirelessly work on that. Use your own head, and don't wait until people tell you what you should do. Be a self-starter and try to find an opportunity, just any opportunity. Do what you love, and be passionate about it. Ask a lot of questions, and don't be afraid of doing that. Follow your passion and don't let anyone discourage you.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

My favourite part about being a scientist - is just to have time to think about and come up with ideas about why something works (or doesn't work). It's really satisfying. Collaboration. My boss listens to my ideas and the whole team works together to make them happen. We all support each other.Work-Life Balance. I work full-time on a flexible schedule. Variety. Every day is different, and it is a constant adventure.

Janina Martinez, Environmental Engineer

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

As a young student, and throughout high school, I really enjoyed math and science. I felt like engineering was a natural path for me to take.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

Step out of the box - go with your gut instinct if STEM or tech is what you're interested in. Your curiosity and willingness to learn are the basic building blocks for a career in a technical field.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

I enjoy seeing all the data that I gather throughout the year come together into final calculations for annual reports due to regulatory agencies. It marks the year-long task complete!

Joanna Rodziewicz, Senior Experienced Experimentalist

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

I have had always a soft spot for chemistry and finding how everything works and is connected because of chemical reactions was my initial drive. As more I was learning more I was fascinated by the world of science and how powerful the science is. Each aspect of our life can be explained by science, from transport like cars and airplanes through gardening, food processing, painting, environment to life saving medicine and this makes STEM incredible.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

Trust your hard work, do the work and your work will do the rest for you. Be confident in your knowledge and skills but remain humble to learn all the time. You can be an outstanding scientist regardless of gender, background, ethnicity and that's the beauty about it.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

The part of my role I enjoy the most is that there is endless learning in science and there is explanation for every unpredicted result. Sharing knowledge, have scientific discussions and planning work programme to support the hypothesis are invaluable.

Jenny Wells, QA Officer

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

I chose to study chemistry and mathematics purely because I enjoyed them. I was motivated by the feeling of those penny-drop moments when you finally prove a hypothesis or get your head around a proof. Although I studied with no particular career in mind, I was fortunate enough to find interesting roles within the chemical industry straight from university so I have never considered doing anything else.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

Follow what interests you and have confidence that you will find where you fit in. Women bring skills and perspectives which are valuable in our industry, and although you will occasionally come up against outdated attitudes it is becoming easier all the time to overcome them and get on with what you really enjoy doing.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

I enjoy problem solving. My current role in Quality Assurance gives me opportunities to think through problems logically and tease out the correct decisions to be made. It can be fascinating being amongst a team of people, each with their own perspectives, experiences, and motivations, talking through a process and trying to agree on an outcome.

Monika MacNeill, Chemical Engineer

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

I wanted to be in a role which directly challenges global understanding within science and technology. The innovation behind each STEM occupation has an impact in shaping the future. Even non-technological industries rely heavily on professionals with STEM skills as technology is becoming even more prevalent.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

Women have been at the forefront of some of the most extraordinary innovations in STEM. Although we have come a long way, there is still a gender gap in STEM careers - particularly in engineering. At a time when technology continues to transform the way we live, work and learn, women are needed now more than ever to close this gap.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

My favourite part of the role is applying technical knowledge developed throughout my university and career to tackle engineering challenges, from laboratory to industrial scale. I find it extremely rewarding to be part of a team involved in real projects dedicated towards making a change using cutting edge technological innovation.

Daniela de la Fuente Flores, Market Analyst

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

Since I was a child, I always wondered how the world worked and what could we do to make it a better place. A career in STEM has allowed me to not only understand my surrounding but to actively participatein finding solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges. I believe the best part of pursuing a STEM career is that it never gets boring! I majored in Chemical Engineering, but my work and projects have focused in many different areas such as: paper and carbon recycling, reducing dengue fever spread, wine making and data and market analysis for the world largest fluorspar mine.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

I will say that a STEM career will be challenging but at the same time one of the most empowering experiences you can go through. It will give you the tools and knowledge you need to take action and change the world. STEM fields will not only help you develop your technical skills, but also your creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork abilities. These will open a myriad of opportunities for personal and professional growth in any path you decide to take. I would also like to add that, as an engineer or other STEM professional, sometimes you will find yourself being the only woman in the room. When that's the case, do not doubt yourself. You belong there too. Speak your thoughts, it precisely in those places where women voices need to be heard the most.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

My favourite part of my role is that I am always learning. Currently, I am a Market Intelligence Analyst for the largest fluorspar producer in the world. Part of my work consists on tracking market trends and coming up with the best analysis, recommendations and forecast regarding the fluorspar and end use markets. It requires a lot of critical thinking, research and problem solving which keeps me entertained and in a constant state of learning. It is very exciting to know that the work I do impacts key commercial decisions and therefore the direction of the business and the global fluorspar market, as we are one of the most important producers.

Paloma Lizbeth Venegas Rodriguez, Scientific Researcher

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

The recovery processes of minerals or metals that have value in the industry. Generating applications of the recovered product, as well as development of methods for evaluating it and generating a quality product.At the end of my major, I was at the Institute of Metallurgy working more closely with metal and minerals recovering processes from waste, and there I did my social service and my thesis.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

Women and girls can contribute knowledge in any branch that they wish to develop as long as they have curiosity. It is important to always have passion in anything that we do. Year after year, the world evolves, and new technologies and research are needed. The women and girls could be there, in the development of new technologies and research in any Environmental, Health and Mining Sector.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

Part of my role is to participate in projects of fluorspar applications, as well as in projects that involve improvements in the process. I have had the opportunity to participate in an Industrial test in a cement company and in a ceramic project in where they were trying to implement fluorspar. When you participate in projects like this, you feel that you contribute more to the company and you feel more involved.

Rosa Maria del Carmen Rivera Martinez, Scientific Researcher

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

The research that is developed day by day maintain us in a constant evolution without opportunity to fall into monotony. Being in a STEM role helps you to expand your knowledge about our environment and thus want to continuously improve without the fear of facing new challenges.

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

Being in constant learning with vanguard topics allows us to generate a success professional development and be perseverated in the process because sometimes we do not obtain the result that we expect for the first time, only with dedication and passion you will get a good result.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

Starting a new project from zero where I require prior research, development with experimental analysis and finally obtain a satisfactory result conclusion.

Libby Taylor, CTF & EPS Technical Plant Manager

What interested you in going into a STEM-associated role?

Maths and Science have always been interesting to me which led me to studying Chemical Engineering at University. I love looking for a challenge and have always enjoyed problem solving, so to be able to do this daily in my role was important. When I saw the opportunity of Technical Plant Manager with Koura this seemed a perfect fit, and I'm extremely proud to say here I am!

What advice or encouragement would you give to other women or girls wanting to study STEM subjects and pursue a career?

If you enjoy STEM subjects such as Maths and Science, follow your interests! It is so much easier to stay engaged and focussed on a subject that you are truly interested in and enjoy. Increasing the number of women and girls in STEM-associated roles is something that is being actively encouraged across STEM businesses. This should be a great motivator that lots of employees may be looking for someone just like you to fill a position with them. Being a woman or girl in a STEM -associated career allows you to be a role model for other women or girls that want to follow in the same footsteps as you. I love to be able to give back and encourage more people to follow their hearts into a STEM-associated role.

What part of your role do you enjoy most?

The favourite part of my job is identifying and understanding plant issues and then working with the operating team to rectify them. This part of my job allows me to get full exposure of all sections of the plant and to understand all the chemical processes behind it. My most recent issue is to identify what may be causing restrictions and increased pressures in our Hydrofluoric acid system. This is an extremely hazardous chemical that I have never worked with before, so I am constantly learning and understanding every day which I love!

To find out more about the work we do and to contact our team, visit our contact us page.

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