“I enjoy the work I do because I see the point of it all: to help people see better and thus improve their lives”
Glancing at your alarm clock in the morning or looking at the menu one evening at the Italian place around the corner – a lot of people have trouble doing these things without the right visual aids! Silvia Schön knows this all too well: “I am extremely short-sighted and have been wearing glasses since I was nine years old,” she says. Since good vision is not something Silvia can take for granted, she’s all the more grateful to work at a company that stands for optimum visual comfort and exceptional visual experiences.
If you come from this region, you’re bound to have heard of ZEISS – positive associations abound, not only with high-quality products but also with excellent job and career prospects and a great salary and social benefits. Silvia Schön is from Ellwangen. After graduating with a degree in International Business Studies from Aalen University and completing her PhD, which took her to places like Singapore, England and the US, she has returned to the region. “I guess ZEISS lenses have always been part of my life. So why not work for a brand with a great reputation whose products you use yourself? That’s why I applied to work here. I was made a good offer, the work itself is exciting, and I’ve already been working at Vision Care for over six years,” she says. I was initially hired as an Executive Assistant and later moved to Marketing and Product Management. Today she heads the Innovation and Process Management department in the Technology and Innovation area and is responsible for 8 employees in Germany and Australia. “It was the international character of the team that appealed to me right from the beginning,” says Silvia Schön. That’s not surprising given that she spent her postgraduate years at companies with people from a host of different backgrounds. She’s particularly fond of her staff and works closely with each individual person. “Leadership comes with responsibility – and that includes responsibility for ensuring everyone enjoys their work, even when the pressure is on,” she says.
To do so, it’s very important to understand that everyone plays a key role in helping achieve the final result. “We have broken down our corporate strategy for our area and are analyzing what that means for every single one of us, what our goals are and how we can achieve them. Only people who have the freedom to shape the world and develop their personal strengths will come up with good ideas – and ZEISS gives everyone the chance to shine. I just love it here – I enjoy the work I do because I see the point of it all: to help people see better and thus improve their lives,” says Silvia Schön about her role.
“My team follows products every step of the way – from initial idea to market launch. We seek out trends, work on brand campaigns and run workshops for customers to figure out how we can best meet their needs. Our work is very diverse and we serve a wide range of customers that includes everyone from independent ophthalmologists to big chains,” she explains. The hot topic at the moment is full UV protection in all clear lenses. “We’re pulling out all the stops to raise awareness for this topic – at trade fairs, for instance. We use edutainment as a key tool for doing experiments and making stories comprehensible for all in order to help them find out what our products and technologies can do,” says Silvia Schön. For example, I use special cameras and demonstrators to illustrate the effects of UV radiation on the eyes and skin. But the range has a whole lot more to offer, such as lenses specially developed for driving, and some that have been optimized for use with digital devices or for top athletes. And that’s certainly not all that ZEISS can offer its customers in terms of eye care: “We also offer digital services and business solutions, such as apps for lens consultations, and the ZEISS Vision Center concept. ZEISS provides its partner optometrists with high-tech systems for Vision Analysis and fittings, and offers training and coaching to ensure their employees are always up to date. We don’t just produce eyeglass lenses, you know! Here in the region, this is a common misconception about us,” laughs Silvia Schön and adds: “ZEISS is an all-rounder for its partner optometrists. We are experts on the eyes and the Vision Analysis. We develop the technologies, share our knowledge and offer a complete package that includes everything from tools for precise visual analysis to customized lenses.” ZEISS has also teamed up with big-name brands such as Nike for sports glasses, and Mercedes for safe driving. “This is proof that the market values and respects our quality and expert knowledge,” she adds. “When it comes to social responsibility, ZEISS is very proactive and promotes access to eye care for people in developing countries through initiatives like the Aloka Vision Programme.”
The full range of ZEISS Vision Care/Consumer Products is on display at the Customer Center in Oberkochen, along with camera lenses, binoculars and ZEISS virtual reality headsets. Always in focus: Better vision! When it comes to life’s memorable moments – be they in the form of photographs or films – ZEISS makes it possible to capture impressive images both from real life and simulations, like a virtual journey through the universe in a ZEISS planetarium.
When it comes to pitching in, Silvia Schön doesn’t stop at products and technologies. She was even able to choose many of the people on her team. “This is a great advantage and ensures we all get along very well,” she smiles. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman: “In my experience, ZEISS is a proponent of equal opportunities.” Silvia Schön’s situation is also a great example that there’s no reason to choose between having children and having a career. “My daughter is one and a half and I now work part-time. For me it was important not to stay away from work for too long and combine my career and family life. That’s why I met with my supervisor to discuss my options. He was very open and offered me excellent support,” she says. Overall, she thinks it all comes down to being organized. Of course you need to be flexible, and any good team needs collaboration and trust. Her motto is to be open to new things: “I’ve always been this way. I never mapped out how I wanted my career to turn out. Keep calm – that’s what I always tell my students from the KarMen Plus mentoring program run by Aalen University. The important thing is to have a job that you enjoy and that makes you happy – I firmly believe that everything else will follow!”