Women In Forestry

Breaking barriers: Q&A with Kim Somerville

March 7, 2024
By Jennifer Ellson Avatar photo
Presented by:
Wood Business
Women in Forestry

From sawmill operator to planer superintendent at High Prairie Forest Products, West Fraser, Kim Somerville’s career embodies seizing opportunities, overcoming challenges, and championing inclusivity in forestry. In this feature, we explore Kim’s inspiring journey, unwavering dedication, and invaluable insights on breaking barriers for women and diverse individuals in the industry.

CFI: What career path led you to your current position with West Fraser? 

Started as an operator at the sawmill then moved to the planer. I took any opportunity to learn more equipment and understand the processes. I got the opportunity to be a chargehand and started up the path of leadership.

CFI: What inspires you to continue working in forestry? 

Being able to break certain hurdles so that others have an easier time thriving for their excellence.

To help show that just because you may be young, a woman, or from diverse backgrounds doesn’t mean there is only certain things you can do. Every opportunity is open for all who want it.

CFI: Do you find there are certain challenges or hurdles for women to enter or stay in the industry? 

The constant internal struggle between home and work life. Everyone wants to give 100 per cent at work and 100 per cent at home but have that internal struggle of “you give more at work, you take away from your personal life.” But if you take a step back to strengthen your personal life, advancement could pass you by. On top of that barrier of certain jobs are considered “men’swork”, where in reality, women who want to do those jobs can.

CFI: What can companies do to attract and support women or other people with diverse backgrounds and to advance them into leadership?

Showing that there are diverse jobs in the company itself that can be filled by anyone. Get rid of the stigma that women and men can only do certain jobs in the companies.

CFI: What advice do you have for those considering a career the forest industry, or those in the industry looking to advance? 

Know that there is more to the industry than just the harvesting and manufacturing. Try everything till you find what you are passionate about. Advancing isn’t about how much experience you have; it’s about showing the values of the industry every day and bringing ideas to better and progress the industry in all sectors.

This article is part of CFI, Pulp & Paper Canada and Canadian Biomass’ Women in Forestry series, an annual celebration of women in the industry. Find more content here and follow us on social media with the hashtag: #WomeninForestry.

Remember to join us for the Women in Forestry Virtual Summit on Mar. 8 at 11 am ET/8 am PT! It’s FREE to register. Sign up now!