A conversation with Kimberly Moore of KDM Engineering about how she paved her way in electrical engineering, why she started her own company, and what she’s doing to promote STEM programming for women and minorities.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Any relation to what you do today?
When I was younger, I was known as “Miss Fix-it” around the house. It got to the point I would go to all my relatives’ houses and put up or fix whatever they needed. I was also great at math and science. I got my first computer in grade school and by the time I got to Whitney Young [High School], I knew I wanted to do something with engineering. It wasn’t until college that I settled on electrical.
Engineering is viewed as a male-dominated field. What has your experience been as a woman in this area?
I have been very fortunate in this area. I was told I was the third black woman at Northern Illinois University to graduate from the electrical engineering department at the time. However, I did not feel that isolated until my first job. I was the only black engineer and the only woman at that site and that was the only time in my career that it felt that way. After that job, I made sure that even if I was the “only,” I was the best and everyone knew who I was. That made it less awkward.
What led you to start your own company, KDM Engineering?
I opened the doors to my company in 2012. I felt like I’d hit a ceiling in my career and it was time to replicate the success of my prior employer for myself.
Your commitment to diversity and your support for women and minorities are a big part of your mission. Can you tell us a bit about your nonprofit, Calculated Genius?
Calculated Genius, or CG, was founded in 2016 with a mission to bring attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) for women and minorities. We started with raising funds to make donations to Chicago Public Schools that had a focus in STEM. That evolved to summer STEM programming for high school students, as well as scholarships for women going into any engineering field at the college of their choice.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the positive effects that I have had on people, whether it be providing jobs and watching their families grow, or providing mentorships and watching their development as a human.
What has helped you get to where you are today?
I have always had the drive and entrepreneurial spirit, but I believe it was the promises I made to members of my family that are no longer with us, prior to my company even doing any work, that made me want to work hard and hold up my end of the promises.
What advice do you have for women who are interested in engineering or entrepreneurship?
Go for it! Some of your best allies will be unexpected ones. My advocates were all men in the beginning. They pushed me to grow. Build those relationships and know the only person who can knock down barriers for yourself is you.
How do you define success?
I’m still working on that! Everyone has their own metrics and levels but I just wanted to get to where we were three years ago. Now that I see what we can do, I have goals to do more.
How has NAWBO made an impact on you and your career?
NAWBO is a great organization for women entrepreneurs that is full of support and allies to lean on. It provides good programming for entrepreneurs of any stage of business. I've been honored to share my experiences and mentor a number of women from the group.
What's next for you? What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to the day that our mission statement at KDM is fulfilled, as well as our mission for CG. I want to help as many people as possible, and continuing to work hard toward those goals will allow me to do so.