Advice from an Industry Professional: OSA Ambassador Interview Series

By Jelena Pesic, OSA Ambassador, NOKIA Bell Labs, France

  1. What is your education background?
  • I have an engineering degree (MSc) in optics from Institut d’Optique Graduate School of Palaiseau in France and a PhD in physics.
  1. What got you interested in science?
  • When I was a teenager, I was always curious about how things were working and liked the sense of power that I was feeling when I was repairing broken objects.
  1. Why did you choose optics?
  • By mistake! I did not know what optics was really about and enjoyed electronics more. I was distracted the day of the nationwide competitive exam in electronics and I brought one of my 7 written folders home… and ended up failing the admission by 1 point out of 500. Without that mistake, I would most likely be doing a different job now.
  1. Is there any person, from the world of optics/science, you admire?
  • Général Ferrié. He is one of the fathers of telecom science. He managed to turn the Eiffel Tower into an antenna, saving it from demolition.
  1. What motivates you in the morning to go to work every day and to push the limits?
  • Playing the game I like.
  1. What makes you feel you accomplished something at the end of the day?
  • Creating new rules for the game.
  1. What is your dream job?
  • My current one.
  1. How did you figure out what your dream job is?
  • During my PhD. I was not particularly attracted by research before.
  1. If you could use a time machine to get back in time, what advice would you follow to get yourself through your studies?
  • I am not looking back to the past, more to the future. If I was, I would have fun with electronics right now, wouldn’t I? 
  1. Why is industry an important sector for students to look into?
  • Everyone should pick up the sector where they feel attracted to. I chose industry because creating knowledge was not good enough for me. I had to go beyond and prove that my ideas could make a true impact. 
  1. When we were students, we all had moments when we thought, ‘why do I need to learn this’, ‘when will I ever use this in life?’ Did you experience moments like these? How did you overcome them?
  • Always. But I do not remember being bored. I guess that I somehow trusted my professors / parents when they were explaining to me that it would be useful sooner or later.
  1. From your point of view, what is the difference between research in university/institute and research in industry?
  • When I was at school, it was commonplace to segment research in industry and research in academia according to “applied” research against “fundamental” research. I do not think that it is where the actual split is. Both types come with knowledge creation, otherwise they would just be R&D. However, researchers in industry are often expected to push their ideas one step further, to work out a would-be application space by themselves, even though the actual applications could change several times until they come out. It takes time and efforts, but it can make them truly impactful.
  1. How do you like to spend your free time?
  • I love cinema, particularly science-fiction movies


Posted: 1 June 2018 by Jelena Pesic, OSA Ambassador, NOKIA Bell Labs, France | with 0 comments

The views expressed by guest contributors to the Discover OSA Blog are not those endorsed by The Optical Society.


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