Watch this space! A push for women's voices

Karin Nars, Dinolift’s Managing Director, is the first female president of the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) in its near 40-year history. She discusses her plans and passions with Ensto’s Chairman of the Board, Marjo Miettinen.

The Women in Powered Access initiative invites women from all stages of their career to share their stories. How did the idea start?

Karin: One of the goals for my two-year term as President of IPAF is to improve inclusion in our industry. I'm the first woman in this role, so focusing on inclusion seemed very fitting.

Our initiative asks women to share who they are, and what their thoughts are on our industry. The stories include people who have just entered the workforce, to senior-level leaders.

We are a relatively small industry, and the crowd at our industry events can often be very homogenous. I believe it's important to include as many voices as possible in discussions, and we need to take concrete steps to make that happen.

If we fail to do so, we risk missing excellent opportunities and a variety of viewpoints.

Marjo Miettinen, you were elected as the Chairperson of Technology Industries of Finland’s Board of Directors; making you the first-ever female chairperson in the board’s 125-year history. What do you think about diversity in technology?

Marjo: It’s important for women to see other women in leadership positions. Things are evolving, but still at a slow pace. The lack of role models is a big problem, and it’s the reason I was one of the founding members of the Women in Tech Finland network in 2012, and it was a complete success.

Luckily, many companies have realised that inclusivity is crucial and beneficial for companies and employees, and some businesses – such as Kone, Microsoft and ABB – have started specific career coaching programmes. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Karin: We absolutely need more role models for young women. Women need to see that there is space for them in our industry – which is what the Women in Powered Access initiative is all about.

I want to find ways to make permanent changes, and think beyond my two-year presidential term. Currently, I’ve set up a working group where women in our industry discuss how we can make long-lasting changes. Our ideas are still in their early stages, and we will discuss how to implement them in our next meeting during the autumn. 

It’s one thing to invite women to events – but we need to make sure that women are the ones on stage too; giving talks and participating in panels.

What advice would you give to young women in tech?

Karin: No one can manage their career completely alone. Successful people always have someone behind them; someone who guides, advises and spurs them on. If you have the opportunity to be part of a mentorship programme, do it. Hopefully this is something IPAF can also help young women with.

Marjo: My advice is always: take the opportunity when it’s offered, be brave – and don’t overthink it! You don’t want to regret a missed opportunity. 

I think one of the most important things is for women to understand that we're not competitors, but that we should be supporting each other. I have been a mentor for several years, and I still keep in touch with former mentees. At the moment, I’m mentoring a handful of women at different stages in their careers. Some of them, you’ll be hearing about – so watch this space!