154. Hero – Nataliya Klimovskikh, Automation Engineer at ATLINE Transcript


00:00 Nataliya: 

And in China, I was working as a kindergarten English teacher. So before starting the college study automation, engineering, I didn’t have any technical background and I didn’t even know I had it in me, but then I’ve been underpaid and overworked. And I decided I wanted to become a high-skill professional because I still wanted to travel the world and be able to find a job in any country I want. It’s not like I had a passion about engineering or automation. I think at that point, I didn’t even know what does it mean automation? 

00:39 Chris: 

 Welcome to EECO Asks Why. Today we have a hero conversation. This is our first international hero conversation. We’re coming across to seas here and we have with us, miss Nataliya Klimovskikh, who is an automation engineer ATLINE. So welcome Nataliya. How are you? 

01:24 Nataliya: 

Hi, Chris. Thanks for having me. I’m doing great. It’s evening in Denmark and I’m here ready to chat with you.

01:31 Chris: 

I’m so excited. It’s amazing what technology is doing. When we met, you were on a train in Denmark on a Teams call with me. Now we’re recording this. This is going to be heard all over the world. We have EECO listeners as far down as Australia, so I’m excited for them to hear your story. And Nataliya get us started because we got connected through Tim Wilborne, and TW controls. He’s like, Chris, you gotta talk to Nataliya. I was like, okay, man, if you say so, Tim, I definitely trust you. So I’m excited. And now maybe just tell us a little about, a little bit about yourself and your journey to where you’re at.

02:05 Nataliya: 

I’m always happy to chat about my journey and talk about it to mission and I think need living in Denmark. It’s a little bit maybe different here. So I hope it will be interesting. Do people to watch and to listen about automation in Denmark. My name is Nataliya and I’m originally from Russia, but I’ve been traveling around the world and living here and there. So I actually moved to Denmark about two years ago from China.

And, in China, I was working as a kindergarten English teacher. So before starting the college study automation, engineering, I didn’t have any technical background and I didn’t even know I had it in me, but then I’ve been underpaid and overworked. And I decided I wanted to become a high-skill professional because I still wanted to travel the world and be able to find a job in any country I want.

It’s It’s not like I had a passion about engineering or automation. I think at that point, I didn’t even know what does it mean, automation? I just wanted to be able to find a job. And I started doing research about different engineering fields and about like mechanical, chemical, biomedical and I felt the pull towards electrical engineering. So I started reading about that and I was thinking it might be something I can do. And then in electrical field, there was also different kinds of subfields controls, powers. And I was reading about controls, I remember. And that it said that you work with industrial robots and that was that because I think it was so cool.

It sounded so cool. So I decided that I want to try and because education for me I knew that I will have to pay a lot of money. So I decided to take some courses, PLC programming and AutoCAD to just get the idea if it’s something I can do, if it’s something I will be enjoying doing, and this is how I met a team as well, because I was reaching out to all instructors on also YouTube.

And we became a friends since that time. And then when I realized I really liked. I started looking for to get an education. And I wanted to study in an English speaking country because I was very tired from a language barrier in China. So I found two years education in Canadian colleges.

We will called automation technicians or something. And then the cert college I accidentally found in Denmark automation engineering program in English. And I decided to apply to three of them. I was accepted to all of the colleges and I remember on LinkedIn, I was actually asking people, I have this choice, Canada or Denmark. What do you think I should do? And because at that point, a lot of people were from America. Everybody was saying, just go to Canada, there are plenty of jobs, but actually the college in Denmark, the way they communicated and the way the a process of acceptance students, felt more personal, they organized Zoom meeting to chat with you. So I get to ask about the program and I could also see the professors that are going to teach me. And they were very quick to help me resolve my questions while for Canadian colleges, I just felt they have a lot of students and they don’t have time to actually take care of each of them.

And I knew because of my previous experience, if you move into another country, somebody has to help you out in the beginning it will be either your work or school. So I felt like in Denmark, they will help me out if something happened. And I also received a 20% reduction of the feed’s kind of a scholarship and at that point it was cheaper for me to go to Denmark. Plus Canada is still so far away. I don’t know from everything. So I thought, I will try it in Denmark. I moved to Denmark knowing nothing about what it’s like living here, except that people are happy. Like everybody knows like Danish people are happy. And yeah, this is how it’s all started. I was taken two years education, so I think in other countries it’s equivalent to being a technician, here I’m able to call myself automation engineer. So it’s complicated. Yeah. I also somebody like at work, sometimes I say that I’m a software developer because what I’m doing is developing a software for the machines that we are producing.

And I want you to talk a little bit about the education in Denmark. The college has a very practical approach. So during these two years I’ve been studying, we didn’t have like exam-exams. When you just study for exam, then you go onto a bunch of questions, not related to anything like practical instead every semester we would be working on two projects. So you work about two or three months, and then you present your project and you have a certain criteria so then teachers are rating your projects. And I think it was amazing because you have a certain criteria you have to hit and then.

You have all the freedom to explore and to build your solution. And with every project we had more and more freedom. So I remember on my second year, we have to just decide what kind of project we want to do in something. And we actually was working on something kind of related to. I was like we were going to the bunch of companies in Aalborg it’s the city where the university is. And we were interviewing them because we have this in the pharmacies we have. So you just order and the robot bring it to you. So we will go into this bunch of pharmacies and interviewing people. And they’re so open in Denmark, they would invite us in shows how the robot works. Some of them stop using them. So we lost. And why, what are the challenges? And so on, it was a lot of fun and it was very practical. 

08:58 Chris: 

Obviously you have done a lot from, I think you were saying kindergarten teacher in China to now you’re basically automation engineer, designing robots for manufacturing. Big jump there a lot of things that I am curious from the Denmark standpoint, from a manufacturers that you’re working with and just you’re supporting, what are they seeing as some of the challenges? Because I see some things in the states from a challenge standpoint from industry and manufacturing, but I am curious from Denmark what’s the big problem that we’re trying to solve over there? 

09:27 Nataliya:

I think just the price of the production. And so it’s very different. It’s very expensive to produce anything in Denmark. A lot of companies having Danish companies, having a headquarters in Denmark and then outsource the production to other countries, but I’m a very proud that our company producing everything here.

09:52 Chris: 

How about skilled labor over in Denmark? That’s definitely an issue in the states where we don’t have enough skilled labor, those industries are struggling to get the next generation. How is that being approached? 

10:05 Nataliya: 

What I really like about Denmark that it’s very common to go and study even in your late career. And I even read the research from one of the colleges in Denmark, as the government were developing a plan to re-educate people. So they can take a new jobs, technical jobs. And because there is a big shortage in this, especially automation field however, it’s actually not really popular because I remember in my college, all this marketing classes, web design classes were full of students that were like 50 people in a class. And there were several classes like this while automation classes, there were only like two for Danish and international class. And we started Danish class was 30 people and international work, 15 people and only 10 people from Danish class graduated. And even less, like less than 10 graduated from international class. 

11:09 Chris: 

Why do you think the disparity there between the traditional, like you said, the marketing courses and things like that versus the engineering, is there a perception that, people have associated with. 

11:20 Nataliya: 

Yeah, I think it’s not very common to talk about different career paths in automation. So a lot of people think, for example, you have to be an electrician, and then you have to go and take this education and then you will be able to find a job. And a lot of, don’t really know what exactly they will be doing. So some of them get a bit frustrated that we have a project management classes, which are, I think are extremely useful and then other people get frustrated because we don’t have enough electrical design classes, which is also important. But I think it’s just perception of the industry. 

11:59 Chris: 

All right. I’m going to put you in front of a high school or maybe a senior class at a high school, just go 12 years from that kindergarten class you were teaching and you’re sitting there in front of them. Now you’ve been through the variance of going through education in Denmark and the world of automation and what that’s open for you. What are you saying to them to inspire them? What advice would you give them? Where would you point them to get more interest in the field that you’re in versus, the more traditional type routes?

12:27 Nataliya: 

I would start with saying that automation engineering is a very creative job because you have to imagine the whole process and then design it. I would also point out about industrial robots because I feel like before to be automation engineer, it was only PLC, but now like a lot of the solutions involve collaborative robots, industrial robots. So you can focus on robotics. You can focus maybe on PLC programming, you can focus on HMI design which is also very creative. I think I would start with that. 

13:09 Chris: 

That’s great advice. I think. If people, first of all, if they see you, they see how passionate you are, you haven’t stopped smiling since this interview started. I love it. It just shows how excited you are about this industry. So I think you’re all over it. We just, we had to share more. We have to let people see those different career paths. Like you mentioned those just knowing what paths exists. It’s so important and we have to take that and be intentional to speak that to people, to give them those options.

And I am curious, cause you’re such a bright person just from your personality. I love it. When are you the happiest, what work are you doing that gives you that sense of joy? 

13:46 Nataliya: 

I feel like I’m generally a very positive person. It’s very common here in Denmark to do a personality test. And most of the people were like, we have this color test where like red is like a dominant and then blue is introverts. And then I was the only one in the class who is a very high yellow personalities. I’m just like this. Actually, when I was applying for jobs and I was having an interviews a lot of people were telling me that I’m quite different from a traditional stereotype PLC programmer.

Yeah. And I’m really glad because at some point I was thinking I will have to mute my personality, to be more serious, most assertive. But I remember my teacher was telling me, please never turn down your personality because this is what people are looking for. And on all my like kind of job interviews people were saying that they really want somebody who is able to talk about automation because very often you have to work with the customers and you have to communicate in a team.

14:54 Chris: 

Don’t change a thing cause it’s just your type of personality. It’s that type of energy that inspires the next generation. So cool. I am curious because when we were talking before the recording used to like, oh, highlights, I got highlights. So what are some highlights for your career that you’d like to share with us? I know just watching you online, you’ve done some really cool things out there. 

15:15 Nataliya: 

Oh yeah. I have something. In our college we had a Lego Mindstorm robots, and I know people think it just a toys, but if you look at the Lego Mindstorm software, classroom, and then you look at ABB collaborative robot, for example the software it literally the same. So if you know, one thing, it would be so easy to transition to work with robots. And I was trying to learn Python programming, but because I wanted to apply to something in real world was combining into a Mindstorm series and Corona hit, and I built a Lego sanitizer.

And I remember I was sitting, it was like Friday evening. I was building the robot and I was feeling a bit upset because I’m not socializing. I’m not chatting with my roommates. I was asking myself why you do even do this. And then I brought it to school because I’m very proud of everything I do. So I try to show it to everybody. And it was a lot of fun. My classmates tried it, my teachers tried it and I made a video and post it on LinkedIn. Also I was very concerned if I should post it because it’s such a silly video and then I was contacted by a productivity director of the Danish company.

He previously worked in Lego company here and when he saw it so because a lot of people from Lego like this post, so he saw it and he contacted me and offered me an internship where I had to design a collaborative robot cell to make a proof of concept of automating one of the manufacturing processes in the factory? It was huge. It was everything I wanted because it was collaborative robots and in our school we have EV3 like old series. And then for this project, the company boards, EV10. And I was unboxing the robot. It felt like Christmas. But what he told me why he decided to contact me because He, first of all, really enjoyed wathcingthe video. And he saw it as a creative project that applied to solve a real life problem. If you have, please show case your projects for all the students that will highly recommend everything you do just post on LinkedIn. 

17:36 Chris: 

Wow. What a story then now can you share, maybe we can get a link to that post and share that video for our listeners out there. We’ll put that in the show notes, Nataliya, what a great story. That was amazing. Very cool. But you’re right. Be proud of what you accomplished and take time and share it because you never know. Yours got to the right person of influence, obviously, and you were able to take that that opportunity and expand upon it. So what a great hightlight, that’s a really fun. 

18:06 Nataliya: 

Yes, because it’s not only, I don’t know, because sometimes automation can seem boring for some people, but there is so much fun things that you can do and explore. 

18:16 Chris: 

Let’s just stick on that theme. You opened the door for me. Fun things for you to do and explore. Let’s talk a little bit about you outside of work. And Denmark there, what hobbies do you do you have? 

18:26 Nataliya: Well, I’m quite a restless person. So I like to juggle all different things. We have a lot of water everywhere, so almost every city has a Fjord or some access to this sea. I live about five minutes away from the Fjord and people really use the water here. So a lot of people have boats, people do kayaking and I invested in paddleboard. So I was able to go around the Fjord. We have a dolphin or maybe two. So I me and my friends, we would go to the places where the dolphins seem to wait for it and take a photos. I was going paddleboarding around the island. And I uh, found a family of seals who were chasing me for 15 minutes.

So yeah. I do biking again, people bike here a lot. Everybody has very fancy, very expensive bikes here. I’m biking I’m dancing. And then I spend the time doing the Lego Mindstorm always before now. All I do is work.

19:39 Chris: 

Right, that is so good. It’s so funny. I just, I literally just gave him my oldest daughter a paddleboard yesterday before this recording. And so we’re getting into paddle boarding ourselves. Now we haven’t had any seals chase us yet, but maybe we’ll get there one day. 

19:54 Nataliya: 

It was quite the scary experience. There was nobody around, they were just like looking up at me. 

20:01 Chris: 

Oh, but you’re smiling. They just probably wanted to come and just hang out with you because you have such that bubbling personality. Now how about family? We love talking about family at EECO Asks Why? So Nataliya, what would you like to share with us? 

20:15 Nataliya: 

Well, I have my mom and my mom lives in Russia. And since I was little, I was telling her that I will be living in another country. I don’t know. I just, and she was like, no. But I think she was quite upset when I moved to China, but then she made the peace with it. So now we use Skype and chat several times a week. So I’m going to visit my mom from time to time. But, she doesn’t like traveling and she doesn’t even have a passport to go abroad. But for now I’ve already started planning my Christmas vacation. Some of my friends that I made here, they want to go to Russia. So I think it will be fun. And I can also visit my mom on holiday. 

21:04 Chris: 

There you go. Now hopefully that can definitely happen. So thank you for sharing that. I am curious from in Denmark, you’re an engineer. What do you enjoy consuming for fun? Like podcasts? Any books? YouTube? I know you’re a big Tim Wilborne fan, so we know where you’re watching him on YouTube, but just anything you find value that you think others may? 

21:25 Nataliya: 

I mostly do YouTube. I watched a team of videos. But I’m not actually, I’m not really big into podcasts, I’m trying to get into this, but unsuccessfully for now. 

21:37 Chris: 

We know you at least have one your subscribing to and that’s EECO Asks Why so we’ll start with that. Very cool. Very cool. How about now we do a game and Nataliya, we call it the lightening round where I just fire a bunch of random stuff at you and let’s see what comes back. And it gives our listeners an inside look of who you are. Just some fun, quirky things. So if you’re willing to play, we’ll jump in.

22:01 Nataliya: 

Okay. 

22:02 Chris: 

All right. All right. I’m excited for this, the first international lightening round. So favorite food? 

22:09 Nataliya: 

Kimchi. Everything with kimchi. I get addicted to it in China to spicy food. And then my roommate, he in Denmark has Korean roots. So we cook all the spicey food together. 

22:21 Chris: 

Very good. Very good. Now what’s your favorite adult beverage to wash down that spicy food? 

22:25 Nataliya: 

I’m ashamed for my nation because I don’t drink vodka. So, I’m actually not a big drinker nowadays. I mostly drink beer, Royal Classic is like a Danish brand here. Oh, I liked drinking cocktails like Aperol spritz or gin and tonic. 

22:49 Chris: 

Okay. Very good. All right. What’s your favorite app on your phone? 

22:54 Nataliya: 

Google maps. I had to travel so much. So I moved to, for my work, I had to move on to south of Denmark. So I use it everyday, Like today, I had to bring my bike to the fix shop. And then another day I had to go to some, meeting a visa because I’m in this transition period where I still have student visa and I’m making my work visa. So I had to go to another city to another part of Denmark. 

23:26 Chris: 

Now what’s on your nightstand? 

23:29 Nataliya: 

My water bottle. I don’t know. I think like I get it from China, everybody drinks, water bottle, and I actually always drink hot water, 

23:39 Chris: 

Hot water. Okay.

23:42 Nataliya:

In China, whatever happens to you, like if you have a migraine, you have a stomachache, you just feel, I don’t know, down, drink more hot water and it just stick to me.

23:52 Chris: 

Wow. Okay. There you go. Now, how about a uh, a guilty pleasure? 

23:59 Nataliya:

Pastries! Well, it’s not quite guilty I feel but I cannot, I think this is my habit from Russia because in Russia we always have a tea and something sweet after every meal. So I cannot live without pastries. 

24:16 Chris: 

I love it. Love it. How about all time favorite movie?

24:19 Nataliya: 

There are some many. I really like Sci-Fi movie. I think Pacific Rim, one of my favorites because I like robots as 

24:28 Chris: 

So naturally the big robots, it’s gotta be Pacific Rim for you. 

24:33 Nataliya: 

I was also obsessed with Transformers before. 

24:37 Chris: 

Very good. Now I am curious for this. What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been? So as much traveling that you’ve done, what’s the one place that you got to go.

24:46 Nataliya: 

Hong Kong. Yeah, I think I’m not sure with the political situation these days. But a couple of years ago I’ve been to Hong Kong and I went to this Victoria Peak to look over the city and it just felt like I’m in another universe when you watch this Sci-Fi movies with super like tall buildings, it just looks surreal. And I think while I was living in China, I went about three, four times there. And every time I was able to discover something new. So on the one side you have this super cool skyscrapers. And then in 30 minutes away from the city, you have beautiful crystal clear water and nice beaches. .

25:34 Chris: 

Very good. And how about last question in lightening round dogs or cats? 

25:39 Nataliya: 

It’s a very tricky question because I’m like a step mom of two cats. My roommate has two cats, so I also adopted them. So I really loved them, but I do feel like I’m a dog person. 

25:55 Chris: 

Very good. We’ll let you pass on that one. This has been a blast getting to know you Nataliya. So we always wrap upEECO Asks Why with the why and it talks about your passions and what drives you. So somebody wants to know what your personal, why is, what would it be?

26:13 Nataliya: 

It’s such a tricky question because I also feel like till this day I was just focusing on presence. So I know I need to finish my education and then I need to get a job and then I need to get my working visa. And now that I’ve actually done it. I think, my goal was just to find a place where I can settle down when I can be happy with my job when I will be happy with the climate, because I really enjoyed cold climate, where I will be where I can fit in the society that has similar mentality to mine. That was very important for me. And I think I was, for me, I was, I’m just trying to build a life for me, and for, I don’t know, my future family. 

27:11 Chris: 

Right. Well you’re doing great things and I’ll tell you what, Nataliya this has been a wonderful conversation, a way to get to know you. So for people that want to maybe follow you or connect with you, what’s the best way for them to do that. 

27:23 Nataliya: 

I’m quite active on my Instagram. I posted a lot of my projects over there and I was sharing an experience or how is it to study in Denmark study automation and I’m sharing things, what I do for work now. Yeah go and check it out.

27:40 Chris: 

Very good. Well make sure if you’re listening to this, go check out the show notes, get connected directly with Nataliya. And thank you so much. This has been a blast getting to know you and been a fun hero conversation and so I’m personally just delighted to know that someone like you, with your personality, that you’re out there inspiring others. So thank you so much. 

28:00 Nataliya: 

Thank you. Pleasure was all mine. Thanks for chatting with me.

28:03 Chris: 

You have a great day. 

28:05 Nataliya: 

Bye.