Debi Larkin - Customer Inspired Innovation Leader, 3M Canada

Debi Larkin

3M Canada, Customer Inspired Innovation Leader

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

Describe what you 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.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s 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.

What motivates you in your career?

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.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

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.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

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

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

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!

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit

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