The first thing Stephanie saw one day in November were several enormous vacuum tubes made of stainless steel, each as big as an entire room, arranged in a spacious, bright hall. It was her first day working at ZEISS. The 28-year-old had just completed her degree in chemistry. Seeing the installation with its hundreds of supply lines and dozens of electric cabinets impressed her, and confirmed her decision: "Yes – I want to work here."
It was something of a coincidence that she was in the hall on that November day. "Most chemists look for jobs in the chemical industry," she explained. She had already conducted a lot of research in college, and was inspired to create something new. "But in college, most of your research is weighted toward the basics. Your research rarely turns into a finished product; many good things end up in a drawer somewhere." While working on her doctorate, she realized that she wanted to use her knowledge in a targeted way and help create products. And as luck would have it, she happened to meet a university acquaintance who had recently started working at ZEISS and described working there in exactly the same way. "I suddenly understood that there are exciting jobs for chemists in technology companies as well." She found and applied for a job at ZEISS that she thought would challenge her, got the job, and began working as a research assistant in the Contamination and Adhesives unit in the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment.
A technical innovator
That was almost three years ago. Today, Stephanie is a project manager for optical metrology at the Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology segment. She has achieved the goal she set for herself when she was at college: she helps to turn major challenges into major opportunities and contributes to the development of innovations at ZEISS that benefit society. "For example, our optics enable the production of microchips that are used in the latest smartphones, enable autonomous driving and take digitalization to a completely new level. That definitely makes me feel proud."
Her day-to-day work revolves around a globally unique optical element in a measuring cell used in high-precision measuring machines.
The measuring machines enable the production of increasingly precise optics essential to the production of state-of-the-art microchips. "As the project manager, I am in charge of one of the measuring cell's core components," says Stephanie. For this reason, she often has to make quick decisions. The role requires swift reactions and good communication with her team. Recently, for example, a machine crucial to the production of the optical component suddenly malfunctioned at an external supplier's on a Friday afternoon. "I had to quickly call over the entire team to organize an emergency workaround," recalls Stephanie.
Achieving more as a team
Stephanie loves challenges like that. It's important to her that there is variety in her work. "There is a lot going on here," she said – "here" meaning the entire work environment. "You have the opportunity to develop further and gain more knowledge – and men and women have the same opportunities," she added. "I think it is wonderful that there are more and more women in positions of responsibility here." Like Stephanie herself, who now has an office very close to the big hall with the vacuum tubes that she encountered on her first day three years ago; the moment she knew that this was where she wanted to work.