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February 28, 2021 | 6 min read

The Wonder Magnesium Woman

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Dr. Rinat Itach Katz, Head of the Physical Metallurgy Unit at ICL, describes her journey at ICL and her belief in working for a better future

My parents taught me that nothing stands in the way of your will, and my life experiences have affirmed this. When we want something, if we persist and invest the time, we can achieve it. But in becoming the person that I am today, I have to give credit to my workplace that provided me the space to thrive and develop.

I began my work with ICL while still pursuing my PhD at Ben Gurion University, as a researcher in the R&D Department of the Industrial Products Division. I worked for managers who were supportive and kind, who cultivated my professional and personal development. Today I am the head of the Physical Metallurgy Unit at ICL’s research department at the Dead Sea Magnesium operations.

Metallurgy is a field of materials engineering that investigates the physical and chemical properties of metal elements, and inter-metallic compounds called alloys. It’s a field that combines the technological and scientific aspects of metals research. Our unit at ICL specializes in finding additional uses for alloys that were originally developed for automotive, by analyzing outcomes of studies from that field, and developing new product processes based on metallic magnesium and its alloys. In this regard, we are trailblazing and striving to create novel solutions and real contributions to sustainability.

One of the significant initiatives that we led in our unit was the creation of a knowledge centre for magnesium research in Be’er Sheva that provides technical support and metallurgic solutions for the Sodom and Rotem facilities. The centre was created to maximize our use of the researchers’ metallurgical knowledge and the tools we have for magnesium research. Activities performed there included investigation of engineering issues, and support for developing solutions to minimize corrosion.

I led the effort to establish the centre with the team of dedicated, professional, and creative researchers who work with me. Together, we succeeded in improving and creating synergies between different ICL production facilities, reducing costs, and of course promoted new ideas in research and innovation. Right now, my vision is to establish a global knowledge centre for all ICL facilities, in collaboration with the company’s other research groups around the world. The desire to lead new development, to create meaning and impact, has been a driving force through all my research, since my PhD at the Department of Materials Engineering at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, through all my work at ICL, and to this day.

I am the only woman in magnesium research, but I don’t feel any gender gap – quite the contrary, ICL is a leading company in gender equality. I feel privileged to be part of a very empowering, respectful and conscientious team, a team that’s actually my second family. This feeling has only grown during the pandemic since, a few months ago, my husband who is a doctor in the COVID unit at Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva, was infected with the virus. He’s still in recovery, but for the entire period with three young children at home, my workplace assured me of job security, and people offered care and support that was above and beyond. I couldn’t find a better work environment.

I’m sure that my staff and I will continue to lead cutting edge research for the company. I believe I’ll be able to continue to develop within this wonderful company, here at ICL, but I owe it all to my own family. Especially to my mother, of blessed memory, who was a strong, dedicated, caring and loving woman, who, along with my father, always taught us to strive for excellence, to believe in ourselves, and to always think of the greater good.