The theme for International Women’s Day 2020 is: #EachforEqual. Women are encouraged to “actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.”
Kristen Duda was chosen to be profiled for Intelex Technologies International Women’s Day 2020 coverage because she believes that “being yourself and open fosters trusts and builds relationships in a stronger way.”
Kristen Duda is Vice President of strategic alliances at Intelex Technologies and is responsible for development and growth of the partner ecosystem, including consulting, independent software vendors (ISVs), and technology partners. With over 15 years of experience in environmental, health, and safety management field, Kristen possesses in-depth industry knowledge, which she has translated into highly successful environmental strategies for large, multinational corporations in the commercial and defense sectors. She has a proven track record leading and building teams, leading global sales strategies to exceed business performance metrics, and approachable thought leadership on technical and market-driven topics. Kristen is a professional engineer and holds a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign.
How did you end up in a career as an EHSQ or Tech professional? Was that always your goal or did it evolve over time?
I knew from pretty early on that I would pursue a career in STEM, but not specifically EHSQ until my senior year at university in chemical engineering. At that point, I took an environmental engineering course as a technical elective and everything seemed to click for me – the practical applications of the skills and knowledge I had learned, along with my passion for nature and the environment. That was the trigger for me getting serious about finding environmental internships and job opportunities.
Were you mentored, either in school or in your first jobs? If so, can you explain how that helped you in your career?
Absolutely. I was fortunate to have several strong mentors in school and when I started my career. My uncle encouraged me from a very young age to go into an engineering discipline; my high school chemistry teacher saw I had an affinity for it and she provided support and guidance for pursuing a chemical-related degree. I had a number of mentors when I started my career in consulting who were spread out geographically and professionally, which helped me create a network of go-to leaders to talk to when I needed advice, needed to vent, or needed help with difficult career decisions.
What are some of the challenges facing female EHSQ or Tech professionals? Did you experience those challenges and how did they impact you?
Definitely being a woman in a male-dominated field [is a challenge]. I think it has given me bouts of imposter syndrome and self-doubt when [I am] in an environment where [I am] the minority in the room, meeting, conference, etc. Having a close, diverse network of friends in the business has helped me have sounding boards and a support system.
What do you love about your job?
One of the main reasons I wanted to join Intelex was its steadfast commitment to diversity in the EHSQ and tech industries. It really is critical to align your personal values to those of the company you are working for.
What are keys to your success?
I would attribute my success to a few things:
- I’m fortunate to have a strong support system of friends and family that give me encouragement;
- I’m very disciplined. About 10 years ago, due to forces beyond my control, I ended up with both the PE exam and a marathon on my schedule. I didn’t want to forego either, so I made a study and training schedule, stuck to it and ran a marathon and passed the PE exam. They were two of the most painful experiences and I don’t recommend either. But, a good plan, schedule, and hard work are important;
- Making myself a priority. By making the time to exercise, spend time with friends, read, learn, and balance all the things I’m passionate about and that keep me feeling like a whole and balanced person. It’s easy to put so many other people and things in your life before your own health and wellbeing, but it’s critical to remember and if it comes down to it, plan chunks of time, to do the things you need that make you feel whole.
What is the most valuable lesson you can share from your career in EHSQ or Tech?
That it’s important to be your authentic self. I have worked in environments where you were expected to dress, act, represent yourself in certain ways and it is exhausting. Being yourself and open fosters trusts and builds relationships in a stronger way.
Knowing what you now know, if you had the opportunity to give women just starting out in their careers advice, what would you say?
Say yes to as many opportunities as are presented to you. If you do not think you are qualified for an opportunity, say yes anyway. Taking on opportunities that required me to step outside my comfort zone have been some of the most rewarding experiences and have helped me grow more than I initially expected.
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world.
Let’s all be #EachforEqual.
Related International Women’s Day articles:
International Women’s Day 2020: #EachforEqual In Tech and EHS
Ratna Morjaria: Managing EHSQ Proactively Is Essential to Business
Charlotte Oickle: Standing Firm and Taking Charge While Demonstrating Kindness & Empathy
Amy McNaughton: Building Safety Culture, Keeping Communication Open
Margery Moore: Starting My Own Company Was the Only Way To Truly Honor My Dreams and Achieve My Goals
Jonna Pedersen-Killeen: My Goal Was to Always Be Involved in Work that Brought Good to the World