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Career Profile

Debi Larkin

Customer Inspired Innovation Leader
3M Canada
Debi Larkin | Cheffe de l’innovation inspirée par le client, 3M Canada
Debi Larkin | Cheffe de l’innovation inspirée par le client, 3M Canada
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Location Born
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Education Pathway

Debi Larkin is a customer inspired innovation leader at 3M Canada.

About me

I was born/grew up in: Mount Carmel, Ontario

I now live in: London, Ontario

I completed my training/education at: The University of Western Ontario

What I do at work

When we’re working with a company that manufactures things, we observe their workers to develop a Process Map to identify each step in their process. We ask lots of questions – why they do things the way they do, what they like about a certain step and what they don’t like. Being curious is a definite advantage in my job! My training as a scientist helps me be an open-minded observer. I look for details that can provide clues into suggestions we can make to improve the customer’s process. We may be able to remove some steps, or provide materials that are easier to use, or have less impact on the environment.

My career path is

I have a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Western Ontario. I always liked Sciences in high school so it seemed like a good career to pursue! I started working at 3M right out of university and have had several science/engineering roles within 3M over the past 27 years. I’ve worked in Product Engineering (maintaining formulations for tapes and adhesives), Quality Engineering (ISO standards co-ordinator), Applications Engineering (helping customers use 3M products), and Laboratory Management.

I am motivated by

One of my favourite things about working for a science company like 3M is that we use so many different technologies – from abrasives to adhesives and tapes, micro replication and nanotechnology. We have scientists and engineers working with these technologies daily. My job is to help connect customers’ needs to solutions developed from these technologies, so I get to interact with these people on a regular basis.

How I affect peoples’ lives

By understanding how things work and how different materials interact, I help my customers find ways of doing things that are easier, less expensive, or have less impact on the environment. It’s very rewarding to see someone else have pride in the job they do based on a suggestion I made.

Outside of work I

I enjoy walking/hiking, road biking and pretty much anything that involves being outdoors. I also enjoy doing home improvement projects.

My advice to others

My science degree has allowed me to have a variety of different jobs, in Product Development, Process Engineering, Quality Engineering, Project Management, and I’ve even managed teams of other scientists. So even if you’re not sure exactly what you want to do long-term, if you’re a curious person who likes to understand how things work, consider a career in the sciences!

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Business & Economics
  • Foods and Nutrition
  • Foreign languages
  • Geography
  • Physical Education/Health
  • Technology
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Enjoyed doing things on my own
  • Always wanted to be outside
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Wanted to be in charge
  • Liked being given specific instructions
  • Liked reading
  • Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades

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