Charging Up: A chat with Kim Ann Mink, board member at Group14 Technologies

Plus, climatetech career moves at QuantumScape, DOE, Fermata Energy, Nextracker, Verse, Aligned Climate Capital, Low Carbon Fuels Coalition and more.
By Maria Virginia Olano, Eric Wesoff

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A woman with a light skin tone and short auburn hair wearing a blue blazer and blouse next to a graphic reading Charging Up

Canary Media’s Charging Up column chronicles gender diversity in the climatetech sector. Part 1 is a short Q&A with an industry role model about their career path. Part 2 features updates on career transitions. Please send feedback and tips to wesoff@​canarymedia.​com.

Kim Ann Mink: A seasoned scientist turns to climatetech

Kim Ann Mink is a board member at Group14 Technologies. This interview has been edited and condensed for brevity.

How did you end up on this career path?

My career spans nearly 37 years. It began with a second-grade teacher who ignited my passion for scientific discovery. She taught me that chemistry was all around us, and from that point on, I was determined to become a chemist. As a first-generation college student, I earned a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in chemistry, specializing in electrochemistry.

I entered the industry as a research scientist at a U.S. subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, then moved to the Rohm and Haas company, which really opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that being a scientist offered. After completing a two-year executive business management program, I transitioned from the lab to a commercial role in the chemical industry. I gained extensive experience across 13 global businesses in multinational companies, including executive leadership roles such as the president of a multibillion-dollar business group at Dow and CEO of Innophos Holdings.

In recent years, I’ve served as an independent director on the boards of three major public companies in the chemicals sector. Just last month, I entered the climatetech space, joining the board of Group14 Technologies, a leading manufacturer of advanced silicon battery technology. I’m excited to use my experience in the chemical and manufacturing industries to help Group14 Technologies grow, scale its global manufacturing and advance its vision in electrification and energy transition.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

In business, as in life, change and challenge are constant. So it’s important to move out of your comfort zone and embrace new opportunities when they present themselves and understand that challenges, though difficult at times, provide opportunities for continued learning and growth. Over the last three decades, being open to change and embracing challenges really allowed me to achieve my career goals.

What is a barrier you faced, and how did you overcome it? 

As a woman who has held many executive roles in the predominantly male-dominated chemical industry, I often found myself as the only female at the table. Over time, I observed that women frequently weren’t given the same opportunities for advancement into leadership roles.

What I’ve learned is that getting past this starts with the internal work of building a strong sense of self, to be authentic and to embrace my unique experience, perspective and voice. Understanding my value, knowing my worth and being able to clearly demonstrate what set me apart were all imperative for my success. As a mentor to many young women in STEM fields, I consistently emphasize this message.

What do you think are some interesting, overlooked career opportunities in climatetech? 

Scalable technological innovations will continue to be critical. And I’m a firm believer that to drive innovation, companies need to draw inspiration from a wide spectrum of voices and perspectives. Diversity of thought is a true asset when working to develop solutions to new challenges, and giving teams the ability to operate creatively and think outside the box can lead to transformative outcomes. The battery sector is attracting diverse, talented individuals passionate about making a difference. Opportunities exist for engineers, HR professionals and students to find a career in climatetech companies like Group14. The company’s training and reskilling initiatives are creating opportunities for work in this growing industry.

What is your superpower? 

A leader is only as great as the team they lead, so good leadership really necessitates an understanding that success is a shared venture. I have received feedback from my team saying that my towering strength is my ability to motivate and persuade people toward a compelling vision. Building that sense of pride and fellowship and a culture of collaboration within teams is my superpower.

Career moves

Julie Blunden is now a board director at Nextracker, the market leader in the solar tracker space. Blunden is also on the board of ZincFive, American Battery Technology Company and New Energy Nexus.

Jessa Silver has been promoted to senior member of technical staff at solid-state battery aspirant QuantumScape.

Jamie Nolan has joined the DOE Loan Programs Office as a full-time contractor to lead the office’s media relations work after serving as a part-time consultant over the past two years.

Debi Ryan is now head of business development at Verse, a maker of software for clean energy procurement. Ryan was previously with Tesla Energy.

Gwendolyn Kahler has been promoted to senior manager of special projects in the office of the CEO at Fermata Energy, a provider of vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-x systems.

Robin Vercruse has been promoted to executive director of the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition, an organization advocating to decarbonize the transportation sector.

Mary King has been promoted to VP at climate investor Aligned Climate Capital.

Kristen Rocca is now a principal and climatetech investor at DCVC.

Check it out

On the most recent episode of the Climate Now podcast, Canary’s Editorial Director Eric Wesoff joins the hosts to discuss this week’s climate news and answer questions about the latest developments in the ongoing Auxin solar tariff saga. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Maria Virginia Olano is editorial producer at Canary Media.

Eric Wesoff is the editorial director at Canary Media.