Skip To Content

Career Accelerator (North America)

We have an engaging and informative program featuring thought leaders in optics and photonics. The Career Accelerator begins on Sunday 21 January 2024 and concludes on Thursday 25 January 2024.  To learn more about the topics and speakers featured each day, please click on the tabs below.

Program Book: What they don’t teach you in the lab

Speakers and timing are subject to change.

Arrival Day

13:00                    Shuttle #1 departing Denver International Airport in route to YMCA

  • Shuttle #1 arrival at 15:00

17:00                    Shuttle #2 departing Denver International Airport in route to YMCA

  • Shuttle #2 arrival at 19:00

19:00-19:15       Welcome Remarks & Opening Reception

      Speaker: Chad Stark, Executive Director, Optica Foundation

19:15-21:00        Icebreaker & Opening reception (Assembly C)

07:00-08:30         Breakfast (Aspen Hall)

08:30-09:00         Introduction of the Day (Assembly Hall C)

        Speaker: Tom Hausken, Senior Industry Advisor, Optica

09:00-10:30          Kickoff: Sustainable Networking for Scientists and Engineers (Assembly Hall C)

        Speaker: Christina Willis, Director of External and Government Affairs, Infleqtion

Sustainability applied to networking is about treating professional support and assistance like a resource and creating more of it than you take. This workshop introduces how to use sustainable networking to create mutually beneficial professional relationships and to set and accomplish career goals. Through individual and group activities, participants will come away with personalized goals and a practical action plan for how to incorporate sustainable networking into their professional lives.

10:30-10:35         Break

10:35-11:35          Explore Career Opportunities in the Corporate Photonics Sector (Assembly Hall C)

      Speaker: Brad Doerr, Director of Strategic Planning and Development, Keysight Technologies

Uncover the multitude of roles and growth prospects in the corporate sector for scientists and engineers. Learn about positions suitable for early-career professionals, ranging from R&D and sales to marketing, product management, and engineering. This session will help you navigate the corporate landscape while learning how Keysight is structured.

11:35-13:00          Lunch (Aspen Hall)

13:00-14:00         From Resume Review to Final Offer: Inside HR and the Hiring Process (Assembly Hall C)

      Speaker: Casie Hanson, Talent and Organizational Development Director, Ball Aerospace

Get an insider's look at the hiring journey, from resume submission to the coveted job offer. Gain valuable insights on optimizing your resume for attention, acing interviews with do's and don'ts, and more. Explore the pivotal role HR plays in shaping corporate culture and providing valuable resources to staff.

14:00-15:00         Negotiation Skills (Assembly Hall C)

      Speaker: Amy Sullivan, Technical Content Manager, Thorlabs

We will discuss a balanced approach to negotiation, so you can feel confident navigating the workplace, from initial salary discussions to everyday workplace conversations.

15:00-15:30         Break

15:30-16:30         Leadership Styles and Teams in the Corporate Environment (Assembly Hall C)

      Speaker: Simin Cai, President and CEO, Go!Foton

Discover the critical qualities of successful leaders from entry-level to CEO and learn about the values and characteristics that Go!Foton cherishes in its leaders. Explore how diverse personalities and perspectives can strengthen teams and drive innovation.

16:30-17:00        Daily Wrap-Up

17:00-19:00        Break

19:00-21:30        Dinner & Activity

     Roller Skating Party ( Bob Ecker Skating Rink )


07:00-09:00         Breakfast (Aspen Hall)

09:00-09:30         Introduction of the Day (Assembly Hall C)

        Speaker: Tom Hausken, Senior Industry Advisor, Optica

09:30-10:30         The World of Optical Engineering: Hardware Careers (Assembly Hall C)

        Speaker:  Benjamin Cromey, Senior Optical Engineer, Ball Aerospace

Taking your hardware from the drawing board into reality can be an intimidating process, fraught with concerns about tolerances, manufacturability, and alignment. Dr. Cromey will break down the process, giving examples with the optical hardware he is responsible for on the Roman Space Telescope. This practical session will also cover some general engineering best practices to help you build the right approach into the design work at the beginning of a project.

10:30-10:35         Break

10:35-11:35           The Language of Business: Managerial Reporting and Accounting for Decision Making (Part 1) (Assembly Hall C)

                                Speaker: George Bayz, Vice President and General Manager, Synopsys (retired)

The art of accounting. We will discuss budgeting, explore the art of accounting, visit the stock market and dive into why this is something all scientists in industry should understand. 

11:35-13:00          Lunch (Aspen Hall)

13:00-14:00         The Language of Business: Managerial Reporting and Accounting for Decision Making (Part 2) (Assembly Hall C)

                               Speaker: George Bayz, Vice President and General Manager, Synopsys (retired)

More fun with accounting.

14:00-15:00         Intellectual Property: Academia vs. Corporate Approaches (Assembly Hall C)

                                Speaker:  Darius Sankey, Managing Director, Innovation Acceleration Capital

15:00-15:30         Break

15:30-16:30         The World of Optical Engineering Software Careers (Assembly Hall C)

                                Speaker:  David Vega, Lead R&D Engineer, Ansys

Optics modeling software supports the entire optics industry. I will expose how an optical engineer contributes to software, its impact, and how you can get involved. You will get insider perspectives of what it is like to work in software and how to succeed in this industry.

16:30-17:00         Daily Wrap-Up

17:00-20:00        Dinner (Aspen Hall)

20:00-21:00        Putting Theory into Practice: The Financial Scavenger Hunt (Assembly Hall C)

After learning about all things around financials, now you get to put your skills to the test. Small groups will review a public company’s financial statement and report out about your organization. Can you find everything in time?

07:00-09:00         Breakfast (Aspen Hall)

09:00-09:30        Introduction of the Day (Assembly Hall C)

       Speaker: Tom Hausken, Senior Industry Advisor, Optica

09:30-10:30         Project Management for Engineering, R&D and Technology Teams (Assembly Hall C)

                                Speaker: Kenneth Barber, Sr. Director, Engineering & Project Management

Discover what it really means to be a Project management for Engineering, R&D and Technology Teams. Learn how to apply fundamental Project Management tools to any project in a practical way. Understand how you can leverage your technical know-how into a career in project management and beyond. Learn about key concepts like the triple constraints with fun examples.

10:30-10:35         Break

10:35-11:35           Identifying Emerging Technology Trends: Innovation and Product Development (Assembly Hall C)

      Speaker: Jim Kafka, CTO at Spectra-Physics and Fellow at MKS

Embark on a journey to uncover the art of identifying emerging technology trends and seamlessly integrating them into research, development, and product strategies. Gain insights into how a visionary company like MKS thrives on innovation, and discover the specific skills and attributes sought after in employees with an entrepreneurial spirit. You will have a window into the dynamic world of innovation and emerging technology careers at MKS.

11:35-13:00          Lunch (Aspen Hall)

13:00-14:00         The Role of the Sales Professional (Assembly Hall C)

      Speakers: Heidi Westbrook, Director of Cloud Infrastructure Providers, Fujitsu Network Communications

Discover the key skills and attributes that companies prioritize when hiring for sales positions. Explore why young scientists and engineers should be interested in sales, leveraging their technical knowledge to bridge gaps and drive innovation. Uncover how sales seamlessly integrates with other company functions, such as marketing, product development, and research and development, to maximize organizational success.

14:00-15:00         Navigating Corporate Strategy in Technology: Keys to Success (Assembly Hall C)

                                Speakers: Jun Shan Wey, Distinguished Engineer of Technical Staff, Verizon

Explore the essence of corporate strategy and its pivotal role in business success. Discover how technology companies formulate and implement their tech development strategies, and gain insights into the diverse range of job opportunities and sought-after skills within this dynamic field.

15:00-15:30         Break

15:30-16:30         The Role of the Product Manager (Assembly Hall C)

      Speaker: Olga Sachkouskaya, Product Manager, Brooks Automation

Dive into the multifaceted role of a Product Manager within the corporate structure. Explore the essential skills and attributes required, uncover exciting career prospects, and understand the pivotal role Product Managers play in driving innovation, collaborating with R&D, and bridging the gap between sales/marketing and customer needs.

16:35-17:35         The Role of Marketing and Sales (Assembly Hall C)

     Speaker: Anjul Loiacono, Vice President Quantum Matter Platforms, Infleqtion

Marketing plays a critical role in the success of businesses. In high-tech industries, such as ours, marketing varies widely across companies and often roles in marketing are opaque to job seekers. In this session I hope to demystify what is marketing, how it relates to sales and R&D, and how the role of marketing fits within high-tech companies’ objectives. Upon the conclusion of this session, I hope you will have a better understanding of the marketing function in the high-tech industry, which will subsequently help you determine your future career direction.

17:35-18:05         Daily Wrap-Up

18:00-19:00        Open time

19:00-21:30        Dinner (Assembly Hall C)


07:00-09:00      Breakfast and Room Check Out (Aspen Hall)

09:30-10:00       Introduction of the Day  (Assembly Hall C)

                               Speaker: Tom Hausken, Senior Industry Advisor, Optica

10:00-11:00        The Present and Future of Optics & Photonics (Assembly Hall C)

     Speaker:  Tom Hausken, Senior Industry Advisor, Optica   

This talk will survey the optics and photonics market, across it’s breadth and top to bottom.  It will emphasize the broad perspective of the market, rather than the details of marketing or specific opportunities.  We will discuss the future of optics and photonics, and how one can identify trends for your own needs.                                                                                                                                      

11:00-12:00         Adjournment and Lunch  (Assembly Hall C)

12:00                   Shuttle #1 Departing YMCA in route to Denver International Airport

12:00                   Shuttle #2 Departing YMCA in route to Denver International Airport



Image for keeping the session alive