She never thought that one day she’d be working in the field of vision care: Sandrine studied chemistry in Paris and Lyon and has a Ph.D. from the University of Bayreuth. When looking for a job after completing her dissertation, she came across a job posting from ZEISS which fit her professional profile perfectly. In this interview, she explains what she values about ZEISS and her work in the Vision Care business group.
Sandrine, why do you think ZEISS is an attractive employer?
First there’s the fact that the company is not publicly listed and remains the property of 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 a good balance possible.
You have a Ph.D. in Chemistry. How did you get into product management?
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. And this is how I started in the Vision Care business group in 2012. At first I worked in R&D focused on plastic lenses. Chemistry plays a particularly important 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 responsible for currently?
Let me first explain something: an eyeglass lens consists of a base material that has a certain design and 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. Within this framework I work on different coatings, including the next generation of our premium anti-reflective.
What exactly are your tasks?
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 is especially important to you about your work?
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. And 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. Here I feel like I’m really doing something important with my work.
Ph.D. 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.