I feel like I'm really doing something important with my work.
She never thought that one day she'd be working in vision care: Sandrine studied chemistry in Paris and Lyon and has a PhD from the University of Bayreuth. When looking for a job after completing her dissertation, she came across a job posting from ZEISS which perfectly matched her professional profile. In this interview, she explains what she values about ZEISS and her work in the Vision Care business group.
Sandrine, what do you think makes ZEISS an attractive employer?
First there's the fact that the company is not publicly listed and is owned by the Carl Zeiss Foundation. This is something I like a lot. Moreover, I love the opportunities for development and continuing professional training: it's important to me that I can continue to grow. This is why, for example, I immediately asked about vocational training at my job interview. As an answer I received quite an extensive list of opportunities for further professional development – that really impressed me. The fact that, as a chemist, I was able to switch from research and development to product management speaks for itself. Finally, I think it's great that I've never had to compromise either my work or my private life during the entire time I've been at ZEISS: this is a company that makes it possible to balance the two.
You have a PhD in Chemistry. How did you end up working in Product Management at ZEISS?
Because of my background in the sciences, I knew ZEISS mostly as a manufacturer of microscopes. That's why I was surprised at first when I read the job ad: they were looking for materials scientists and development engineers. My profile was a perfect fit. That’s how I started working at Vision Care in 2012. At first I worked in R&D, where we focused on plastic lenses. Chemistry plays a major role in developing and manufacturing eyeglass lenses. However I noticed that I was also interested in the commercial side of things: I wanted to know why certain products are developed. In which markets are they sold and what strategies are used to market them? This is why I switched and became a product manager in February 2015.
What products are you currently looking after?
Let me first explain something: an eyeglass lens consists of a base material that has a certain design and a coating. Sometimes it undergoes a "treatment," meaning it's tinted or polarized. At the moment I'm responsible for the "base material" and "coating" categories. A new material is currently being added to our portfolio. My job is to work on different coatings, including the next generation of our premium anti-reflective coating.
What are your duties?
I accompany all these projects during the different phases of the product life cycle. This means that I am responsible for responding to the needs of different markets and analyzing potential. I get involved when the feasibility is being checked and the product is developed. I work closely with R&D – there my background in chemistry as well as research and development is incredibly helpful. Then there's the product launch and implementation in the different countries: the various markets must be informed about the advantages of the new product. After the launch we see how well the product sells. Here I work closely with the local product managers and support them when they have questions.
What do you value about your work in particular?
First I'm excited that I get to be involved in the entire product cycle. Second, I like working internationally. I just think it's exciting to receive and consolidate the different requirements in order to develop a product that works in as many markets as possible. Eyeglass lenses are ultimately a product where we have a direct effect on people's quality of life – and I'm happy to be a part of that. I feel like I'm really doing something important with my work.
Vision Care business group
PhD in the natural sciences (Dr. rer. nat.)
My most important career move
My switch to product management – just because I've learned so much since then and continue to grow.