Interview by Nicole Dahlstrom @nicoledahlstrom
Nora has been a 3D Printing expert since 2010, passionate about how products are made: from design to manufacturing, using emerging technologies, such as IoT, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics and 3D printing/Additive Manufacturing. Nora's expertise is in building strategic alliances and strong business relationships. Named amongst the 20 most influential women in Additive Manufacturing every year since 2015, Nora also received the Certificate of Honor in Manufacturing by the City of San Francisco in 2017 for her work with Women in 3D Printing, and was awarded Community Advocate of the year for 2018 by her peers. She started her career in the Additive Manufacturing industry in 2010 by joining the online 3D Printing service leader, Sculpteo. After 3 years in France, she relocated to San Francisco to open Sculpteo’s first overseas offices. After leading the Business Dev. department from the San Francisco office from 2013 to 2017, she acted as General Manager of Sculpteo Inc until April 2018. She now serves Ivaldi Group as their VP of Strategy. Nora founded Women in 3D Printing in 2014 to promote women leaders in the Additive Manufacturing industry. She also co-initiated and co-organizes #3DTalk, an industry-specific and educational event series featuring women in the 3D Printing and related industries. #3DTalks are global events hosted in various cities across the USA and Europe. Pursuing her vision for more social inclusion, she joined 3D Africa as Board Advisor. 3D Africa is a youth and women economic empowerment program developed by the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), a nonprofit organization with years of experience combining education, technology, and economic development to transform economically challenged populations into self-sustainable communities. 3D Africa is part of the YTF’s Clinton Global Initiative 2016 Commitment to Action. As part of her vocation to contribute to the development of the industry, Nora is also Board Advisor for 3DHeals.
What is the idea behind building your global organization, Women in 3D Printing, and what inspired you to start this project?
I wanted to share the stories of women who are building the Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing industry because we are usually not very visible. Go to any A.M. related conference (or any Tech conference for that matter), and you will be able to count the number of female speakers on one hand, both hands if it’s a big conference, and yet, there are hundreds of women who would bring a lot to the conference and the attendees, by being on stage and talking about their companies, innovations, and research. Since they are not on stage, I decided to give them an online platform to share their stories and work.
When did it all start and do you have other members in your team?
I started the blog in 2014. We now have thousands of followers all over the world. I am lucky to have a great group of people surrounding me and helping with the blog’s activities and the events. We have 3 contributors who are working on the blog content with me, and we also now have 8 confirmed local ambassadors across North America and Europe, who are building monthly events for Women in 3D Printing.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
What was the biggest obstacle?
Time! And prioritization of the activities.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
We are about to reach the number of 150 women featured on the blog (we’re already there if we take into account the Industry Insiders series), and we were recently awarded the #3DPI [3D Printing Industry] Award for Best Community of the Year. Last year, the city of San Francisco awarded us with the Certificate of Honor in Manufacturing.
What are the challenges of being an entrepreneur in the niche you are in? How about being a female founder / entrepreneur?
Our industry is quite small, indeed, but it also grows quickly. This is both a strength and a weakness in terms of business since you can run into circles quickly, even with friendly faces!
It is becoming more and more important for our industry to open itself to “outsiders” and other industry-players as I believe we still have a lot to do when it comes to the applications of our technologies to other industries.
Is #WomenInTech movement important to you and if yes, why?
Yes, because I think they can bring a lot of support to women at different stages of their careers and business growth. I think the #WomeninTech groups are, however, even more interesting when also open to men. To this day, most decision-makers remain men, and it is important to have decision-makers involved with #WomeninTech activities if we want to have a real impact in numbers.
What is the most important piece of advice you can give to all female founders and female entrepreneurs out there?
There shouldn’t be any limits to what women can do, companies they want to create, and jobs they want to evolve in! Nothing is off-limits!
So, just forget about your degree and “non-expertise” in an industry or technology. If you have a great idea you want to pursue, just go for it. No one builds a company alone because no one has all the knowledge required to build a company from scratch alone. You’ll have to surround yourself with people you trust and that have a complementary expertise to yours no matter what. Just find the right people.
What will be the key trends in the 3D printing industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
When I look at the diversity of Additive Manufacturing applications that emerged over the last 5 years, I wonder if it is possible at all to predict what’s coming for the next 5 years! And the reason for so many innovations is that 3D Printing is a transverse technology, applicable to almost all other industries.
The next 5 years for 3D Printing, I believe, will be full of cross-technology innovations: We started seeing 3D Printing related to VR/AR applications, but imagine what 3D Printing + AI could bring us, or 3D Printing + Industry 4.0, Domotic, biology, nanotechnologies….? I do not have a real answer to the question of what 3D Printing will look like in 5 years but I can already see some amazing things happening today that are setting the ground for innovation up to 2022: More 3D BIOprinting, more 3D printing integrated with circuit boards and thus, opening the doors to predictive parts, 3D Printing in construction…
Who are your 3 inspirational women in tech?
Anina Net: she is one of the most determined people I know in my professional network. I am very impressed by her achievements.
Naomi Wu: she is one of the only DIY female makers in China and I appreciate that she keeps her own voice in the process of being a talented maker.
And Sandy Carter, for her career in tech and keeping her voice up for more women to join this industry. I think she is a great advocate.
This interview was conducted by Nicole Dahlstrom, Women of Wearables Ambassador in San Francisco, USA. She has been providing marketing and project management services to non profits for the past six years. Passionate about women's health and fem tech, Nicole decided to leverage her network of established feminine health companies, industry professionals, and leaders in the women's health space to develop a network of support for founders of female health focused tech startups called FemTech Collective. Their mission is to shape the future of healthcare through technology that meets the needs of women. Connect with Nicole via Twitter: @nicoledahlstrom or LinkedIn: Nicole Dahlstrom