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Silke Pflueger

Director of Marketing & Sales, Laserline Inc., Santa Clara, California, USA
Country of birth: Germany

Educational background: PhD Mechanical Engineering and MS Electrical Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Kathleen PerkinsA typical work day
A typical day is that there is really no typical day. We're a dynamic and rapidly growing organization, and, in addition to marketing and sales in North America, I am also responsible for sales in China. Since our lasers are used in a wide variety of applications, from pumping of high-brightness fiber lasers for directed energy to brazing of car bodies and cladding of turbines, there are new questions and challenges every day.

What I enjoy most
Hands down, what I enjoy most is the interaction with customers. I like the challenges of their questions, I like building relationships, and I like getting out of the office. One of my previous jobs was Manufacturing
Engineering Manager; I liked the challenge, but I really missed getting out and talking to customers and all the chaos that comes with it, rather than the very structured manufacturing environment. On the other hand, it made me better at my job because I now appreciate the challenges that manufacturing has and am less likely to push clients into directions they can't take.

Words of wisdom
I was very fortunate with my PhD advisor, Fraunhofer ILT's former Executive Director, Professor Herziger. He inspired me to stay with lasers, which was the best decision I ever made, because it's a small and tight-knit community where good people always find a job. He was also a great advisor on the personal level-he taught me that there will always be difficult situations and people in your work environment, and you'll have to learn how to deal with it rather than despair and throw in the towel.