Allison Lami Sawyer - 2014 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
CEO/Co-Founder, Rebellion Photonics, USA
Country of Birth: USA
Educational Background: MBA, Rice University, USA; MSc Nanoscale Physics, University of Leeds, UK; BSc Engineering Physics, University of Colorado, USA
My greatest inspiration was Mr. Phelan, my high school calculus teacher. He asked me if I was going to study engineering at college. I said no. He told me, "Don't be stupid, you'd be a great engineer." I don't honestly think I would have become an engineer if he hadn't set me straight.
My company, Rebellion Photonics, is a fast-growing optics start-up. As the CEO, I do not work in the lab, but am out in the field speaking with customers, recruiting employees, pitching to investors, and managing the product development. Honestly, every day is different. I never know exactly what will pop up each day. Running a start-up is extremely exciting, sometimes too exciting, but I wouldn't want to do anything else!
I wish someone had told me that you don't just have to work in a lab if you get a STEM degree. If you get a STEM degree in college then the world is your oyster, so to speak.