Mary Potasek

Mary Potasek  - 2015 SPIE Women in Optics Planner

President, Simphotek, Inc., USA
Country of Birth: USA

Educational Background: PhD, Physics

Mary Potasek

My mother and father always encouraged me to do what I wanted and told me I could anything. I was also inspired by the famous scientists of the 19th and 20th Centuries. I wanted to discover something important and my family encouraged me to try.

My job involves many responsibilities at this time. I have to manage, collaborate with others in the company to set directions. But I also have to do some of the R&D and business plan development for the company. We are a small company, so I'm involved in everything.

I was the only woman in my PhD class so I had to work very hard and not let people defeat me. I wish someone had told me that bad economic times could really limit your opportunities, i.e. that success depended not only on your ability but also that the economy could reduce your achievements.

My advice to young women considering a career in STEM: Be realistic. If you don't achieve everything you want it may not be your fault because many other factors influence your success.