Mission Critical is excited to introduce you to the 2024 Top 25 Women in Technology. Meet Nicole Dierksheide.

Title: Global Category Director >600kW

Company: Kohler Power Systems

Age: 49

Education: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering

What made you realize you wanted to pursue a career in technology?  

When I was younger and computers became more prevalent, it fascinated me to be able to write a program to automate a calculation or process. The possibilities of what could be done felt endless and I wanted to be a part of figuring out what is possible.

What inspires you to do what you do?

I like to help people. It has been said that when you help someone else, you are helping yourself, and that is very true for me. I am motivated by helping others and contributing to something bigger than just me.

What role does sustainability play in your life?

I have two teenage children and I want to make sure we are leaving the world a better place for them and future generations. I am a firm believer in every little bit helps and a lot of smaller changes within a person’s span of control can add up to a big impact. As an example, for over 20 years, I have used the same set of 5 reusable grocery bags. I go grocery shopping at least once a week and usually use all 5 bags per trip, that means I saved over 5,000 single use plastic bags. That one small change mattered!

What is the most fascinating thing you have learned while working in this industry?  

While the cutting-edge technology is exciting and we look for it to be a major disruptor to address needs, every day we are finding ways to improve on current solutions for a meaningful impact. We tend to not like to take on a lot of risk, especially for the part of the industry I’m involved in providing emergency backup power, so we are finding meaningful improvements without taking on excessive risk. The creativity to balance risk is inspiring.

What’s something unique about you personally?

I love to do a variety of crafts. Over the years I have done stained glass, knitting, card making, scrapbooking, quilting, and cookie decorating to name a few. Just this past year I took two classes on working with epoxy. If you are looking for a partner to try a new hobby, I’m your person!

What’s something unique about you professionally?  

I am a team player, ready to jump in as needed. I don’t look at something as someone else’s job when it is our job together to be successful. That doesn’t mean I won’t hold someone accountable to deliver on commitments to the team, but when someone needs assistance, I will be next to them to help.

What’s your most admirable quality?

I work hard at my life balance. I don’t say work/life balance as work is a part of life. But when I am somewhere, I am all in for that moment. I travel a lot for work, and it takes me away from my family. I ensure when I am somewhere, I am fully present and getting the most out of being there. We have all been in the meeting where someone is clearly distracted by something on their computer or phone. I won’t say this never happens to me, but I keep my phone down and distractions on my computer closed as much as possible. And when I am with my family, I am not being distracted by work.

Why is diversity, equality, and inclusion important to you?

We all need to be heard and have our voice valued. When I first started working, I had a colleague who did not want to work with a female engineer. I eventually won him over, but it did take a toll on me as well as made both of us less productive as we worked through the strife. If we had been collaborating from the beginning, we could have had a greater impact sooner. It isn’t just about results for the company, it is about engagement of employees and them being able to bring their whole self to work.

What aspect of the industry do you think has the most potential for growth, and, on the other hand, which aspect do you think needs the most improvement?

There is more than can be done with current and adjacent technologies to be sustainable while delivering performance that is needed without taking on risk. For backup power generation, there are a variety of technologies, and all have a varying pros and cons. Instead of looking for one to replace the other, we can look more at how they can compliment or look at changes to current technology to offset some cons without compromising on the pros.

When you imagine the future of the technology industry, what does it look like?

With the growth in AI, I see a world where solutions to problems can be found faster through the collective input of knowledge available to the algorithms. We can make major strides in curing diseases and creating sustainable solutions. We have a healthier world for all.

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