A Physicist with Sales Running through His Veins
Jens is sure he has "the best job in the world." And if anyone can say that with any certainty, it's him. One look at his calendar reveals all: he might be in Stockholm in the morning, in London by lunchtime and in Zurich come evening. Or Barcelona. Or Ankara. At least that's what his life was like before the coronavirus hit. And it may well be so again once the pandemic is over. Jens is a Sales Development Manager in the X-ray division at ZEISS' measuring technology segment. His mission? "I see myself as a proponent of computed tomography, or CT."
Today ZEISS is consistently driving this technology, even though X-rays were actually discovered over a century ago. What's so fascinating about this? Tomographs - normally associated with medical applications - are also widely used in technical professions. And they run the gamut, being deployed everywhere from universities and industry to Formula 1 teams. ZEISS focuses on industrial application - and in fact, the company has been official supplier to the Williams Racing team since March 2021, and has been helping to measure high-precision vehicle components. It's also worth mentioning that Jens' commitment helped ZEISS become the official supplier.
From traineeships to shipments
As a Sales Development Manager, Jens is responsible for the strategic sales of ZEISS' CT systems. His diverse set of responsibilities range from hiring and training his teammates and running information events for customers, through to organizing demo systems across Europe. He also handles customer inquiries. "No one is going to buy a CT without knowing about all the system's functions," says Jens. "The system, as well as its software and accessories, always have an intended purpose. Sometimes I'm in touch directly with the future user, and sometimes with the head of production or the head of quality assurance. Whatever the case, we analyze processes, products and goals – until we find the right solution."
Exceeding your own expectations
There are only a handful of overlaps between his earlier scientific career and his current role. But Jens is perfectly happy with this. After writing his dissertation at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology's Particle Physics department, he moved to Ruprecht Karl University in Heidelberg for his PhD. There, he worked as a research assistant in Radiology before he applied to work to ZEISS. "I knew a lot about X-ray technology and wanted to apply my knowledge in an industrial setting – as a product manager.
After interviewing at ZEISS and taking a tour of Oberkochen, I knew this was a place where I could build on my knowledge and expand my professional horizons!" Jens joined the company as a CT product manager, and two years later was working as Sales Development Manager for X-Ray/CT. "I have no background in sales, so I guess a sales affinity just runs through my veins. I understand the technology, think in terms of solutions and can explain complicated concepts in simple terms. And I enjoy talking to others!" Alongside his role at ZEISS, he's also a part-time lecturer at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) in Heidenheim. This helps him maintain his ties to both science and teaching.
A contact person for industry and research
In his line of work, Jens needs to be able to convince others - and the benefits of CTs are not widely known. Computer tomographs work as precisely as coordinate measuring machines – what's more, they can look inside machines to uncover defects or wear and tear. And they work in a non-destructive manner. This is a key advantage, for instance if the test objects are complex cylinder heads made in serial production.
"We work closely with manufacturers like BMW in this area – as well as with several research centers throughout the world. Together, we translate scientific expertise into concrete products. In other words, we turn know-how into progress."
Jens is now using this know-how to assume responsibility for ZEISS' European CT market. "I must say, I'm quite proud of this. Even older, more experienced scientists and managers ask for my advice," he says. His story shows just how important it is to encourage people to explore their hidden talents. "I surprised myself at how successful I was as an advisor. But ZEISS made it easy for me. I wasn't technically thrown in at the deep end – because I was encouraged to pursue my goals, and was able to develop my skills in the way I wanted."