When it was decided that the Department’s current head Leif Åhman would retire, it was obvious for Hanna Härelind to apply for the position. Her interest in leadership issues was the main reason for her to apply, and it is also the area where she considers herself to have the greatest potential. She brings a long career at Chalmers into her job. She has gradually entered new roles, collaborations, networks and gained broader and deeper insight and outlook, both internally and externally.
“I think that my experience from many different parts of the department's activities - education, teaching and research - is a big advantage in this job. Especially now when Chalmers is in a special position, with both covid-19 and Finances in balance”.
Culture in a workplace – important to work on
Hanna Härelind thinks that the fact that she will be the first woman to be head of Chemistry is important primarily as a role model to others. She does not believe that gender makes a difference for the leadership of the department. She does not, however, hide the fact that gender equality and equal treatment are issues very close to her and that developing and to make place for it at the department is one of her drives. Very appropriately, she became responsible for the department’s gender equality group in the beginning of this year. But her thoughts on how culture in the workplace can and should be developed extend further.
“Responsiveness, tearing down walls and being open to good ideas and different skills, must never stop at words and require continued work on many levels. To continue being attractive as both a workplace and a research environment, it is necessary to work on these issues. Not least in relation to the generation shift that has both begun and which we are facing”.
She intends to live as she teaches.
“As Head of the Department, I intend to keep as open doors as I have had as Head of Division for the past two years, and to my doctoral students”.
Necessary to find new strategies for the research
The direction of the department's research is set and developed together with the Department Faculty Assembly and the Management Group. With all the challenges ahead Hanna Härelind believes that it is extra important to find strategies to continue the work on world-class level and maintain the strong research fields that have been built up, also to maintain high levels of utilization and teaching. Environment, climate issues and sustainable development are areas where chemistry research plays an important role she says, and where the department has extra big opportunities to conduct good research.
She also wants to work out new ways to increase collaboration internally.
“The whole chain from basic research to groundbreaking results with big impact are important, most people can agree on that. Competition may have positive sides, but I believe in getting rid of it internally and instead creating forms to cross-fertilize this chain more. Now, when we get a bigger assignment for education, time may also be more mature for it – I think it will become most necessary for us”.
More on Hanna Härelind, new Head of Department
Hanna Härelind will start her job as Head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering on September 1, 2020. She is a professor in technical surface chemistry, has worked at Chalmers since 1998, the last two years as Head of Division at Applied Chemistry. The ordinance is for a three-year period (a common arrangement when someone already has a professorship / position at Chalmers)
Hanna Härelind is new head of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Find out more about her and what she sees ahead in her new role.