Nikolinka Hinkova, the head of the Regional Innovation Center “Ambitious Gabrovo” /RIC /, is an avid dilettante pilot who is constantly challenging herself. She draws inspiration from people with an indomitable spirit.

Nikolinka Hinkova, Head of the Regional Innovation Center “Ambitious Gabrovo” / RIC /, is an avid dilettante pilot who likes to constantly challenge herself. Nikolinka is an open-minded and communicative person who supports different technical training programs in the country and various initiatives of future engineers, Digital Green Transformation of Gabrovo and the Gabrovo Industry. She adds that the business world relies on long-term relationships that are built on a professional basis of trust. At work, Nikolinka strives for professionalism and to constantly share interesting ideas that would contribute to a win-win situation. Nikolinka shares that optimism is very important for us to succeed because the optimistic person transmits their energy to the people around them. According to her, we need to learn how to accept challenges and turn them into new opportunities. Nikolinka draws inspiration from people with an indomitable spirit. Part of the projects she is currently working on is the Regional Innovation Center “Ambitious Gabrovo”. The centre is a registered non-profit legal entity for public benefit, established at the end of September 2019. It was created in order to support companies in the region in their digital transformation and innovation, for competitiveness in the global market. This unique organisation with a positive idea plays an important role in the prosperity of the region. It is the result of the efforts of the leaders of the member organisations which we truly admire. Nikolinka shares that she has met and continues to meet professional challenges, but if they were related in any way to her career and the fact that she is a woman, she does not pay attention to them. She adds that male colleagues accept her differently, but they are free to do whatever they want. According to her, engineering is still a “male” world, but there are also “male” girls. Nikolinka thinks that the problem of gender inequality is still relevant in Europe and around the world and will be so for a long time. She adds that our decision depends on the degree of digitization and robotization of activities, the degree of education and the intelligence of people. Nikolinka believes that women’s vision and charm can certainly help, but only temporarily.

Favourite clothes?

А dress.

High heels or flat shoes?

Medium.

Which is THE thing you never go out without?

Credit card/phone / Lipstick / since last year – a mask as well.

Favourite lipstick?

Red.

Which is the feminine quality/duty that you don’t possess?.

Nothing human is foreign to me – Vanity – it is not foreign to me, but I just do not emphasize it.

Which cause would you support/ Are you currently supporting?

Technical training and initiatives of future engineers / The digital green transformation of Gabrovo and the Gabrovo industry.

Share something about yourself that we can’t find on LinkedIn.

I am an open and communicative person. You can learn very specific things about me, as long as you are interested in my personality. Especially from Linkedin, you can learn some things related to my work and initiatives to motivate and inspire young people to science and technology. In general, I share specific things on Facebook. For example, it can be understood that I am a dilettante pilot, that I am constantly challenging myself.

I have goals and I pursue them. I appreciate the professionalism and I hope to be accepted as a professional.

Have you ever faced challenges in your career regarding the fact that you are a woman?

I have encountered and continue to face challenges, but if they were related to my career and the fact that I am a woman – I do not pay much attention to them. However, they exist and are on both poles – from hosanna to crucifixion: on the one hand, encouragement and support, cooperation and trust, and on the other – underestimation, scepticism, distrust. I won’t say anything new, but engineering is still a “male” world, however, there are also “male” girls.

Do you know how many women work in your position?

I have no idea how many women work in management positions like mine. It is not easy, especially when you have to take care of children and your family. It’s hard, sometimes I feel like a juggler juggling objects of different shapes, sizes and weights. It’s hard not to drop anything on the ground. But if it was easy, then there would be a lot of competition.

Read More Inspiring Stories for Women in Tech in WRTech here.

Do you think that the problem with gender inequality still exists in Bulgaria and globally?

I believe that there is a problem with gender inequality and it is still relevant in Europe, as well as all around the world. And it will be so for a long time. Its solution depends on the degree of digitization and robotization of activities, the degree of education and intelligence of people.

Which policies does your company follow regarding encouraging diversity?

Our company follows a policy of gender equality. If under diversity we understand both women and men, we value the knowledge and skills and the desire to improve.

How do you get along with men in your company? Do they treat you differently?

Male colleagues accept me differently, but they are free to accept me as they wish – I do not intend to focus on that, to change their opinion or attitude towards me. I have goals and I pursue them. I appreciate the professionalism and I hope to be accepted as a professional.

How do you balance your work with your personal life? Are there any rules that you follow?

It is now easier to combine personal and professional life because my children are big and I no longer have parents to take care of. I make sure one is not at the expense of the other. I don’t know if I am doing this successfully, but I certainly have no rule.

Do a woman’s vision and charm help her be successful in a professional way?

Feminine vision and charm can help temporarily, but only temporarily. The business relies on long-term relationships that are built on a professional basis and trust. In some countries, female charm does not facilitate communication, but in my work, I do not seek to use charm, but professionalism, sharing interesting ideas that would contribute to a win-win situation.

Which sources would you recommend to us? (podcasts, webpages, influencers, YouTubers, etc.)

Nowadays, there are so many sources that let everyone decide which ones they will trust and which sources can contribute to their personal enrichment. Lately, I’ve been following more digital sources of information. I have relatives with whom I exchange information on various topics. In general, I try not to burden myself too much with unnecessary information. If I’m interested in something, I check the information from different sources so I can decide what decision to make. I also discuss it with my relatives.

Will you tell us more about the Gabrovo Innovation Camp?

For several years we have been holding summer camps in the city “Young Technician, Researcher and Inventor”, the aim of which is to draw the attention of students to science and technology, to help them understand the need for theory and to connect theory with practice. The camps are on a variety of topics, including many presentations, demonstrations and the making of various objects, and working models for demonstrations of physical laws. Very often the mentors of the primary students are students, and of the students – engineers from the factories. Students have the opportunity to get involved in various real innovative projects. STEAM training was also held last year. Future technicians, researchers and inventors have the opportunity to get acquainted with the production in our city by visiting the factories. The interest on the part of the children is great and they are very well received among the people in the enterprises – they pay attention to them, explain everything to them, and enjoy them. I have the feeling that the spirit in the company during the camps is uplifted, there is optimism, an influx of energy in the employees. With the participation of students, a laser engraving machine, a packaging machine were developed, and now an intelligent waste house is being developed.

What is your secret for looking at everything with optimism?

Optimism is very important for us to succeed. Despair does not help us at all. Even when it is most difficult for us, we must always think that good days come after difficulties. Everything around us is constantly changing, you can always find a way to succeed, to find a solution. We must not give in to difficulties. We need to accept the challenges and turn them into opportunities. And a person feels best when he has challenged himself and succeeded. An optimistic person transmits his energy to the people around him. So it’s nice to have friends full of optimism. The optimist has dreams, not just goals. The optimist not only has goals but has big dreams. So, dream of the seemingly unattainable, and don’t be afraid to dream!

What challenges has the pandemic posed to technology companies?

The pandemic has opened up new challenges and new opportunities. Digitalisation has literally invaded the lives of technology companies. Constructors are working more on simplifying the settings of automatic lines, on the predictable maintenance of these lines. More and more machines are offered with the possibility of remote monitoring, with augmented reality for error analysis and service. Increasingly, artificial intelligence is used in mechanical engineering, as well as in other industries to optimize the inventory, in shortening supply-customer chains.

Where do you get personal and professional inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from people who have an indomitable spirit. Look around and you will find these around you. These are people who are an example to me in life. Stay away from people who often complain, grumble, all the others are guilty of something, do not take responsibility, and do not improve.

Will you tell us a little more about the directions of action and development of Mechatronics JSC?

The directions of development of the Regional Innovation Centre “Ambitious Gabrovo” for now are five: Talent Incubator, Automation Tools, New Materials and Technologies, Ecology and Environment and Digitalisation of the region. The centre is a registered non-profit legal entity for public benefit, established at the end of September 2019. Members of the association are 8 innovative companies from the region and the rest are represented by the Gabrovo Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Members of the association are the Technical University of Gabrovo, the Municipality of Gabrovo and the District Administration of Gabrovo. The association was established to support companies in the region in their digital transformation and innovation to be competitive in the global market. The aim is to support the regional administration in its work for a cleaner environment.

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