Scott Sternberg, Executive Vice President at Vaisala

Scott Sternberg is an Executive Vice President at Vaisala, a global environmental and industrial monitoring device company headquartered in Finland. He is also President of Vaisala Inc., the company’s US subsidiary headquartered in Louisville, CO. Prior to Vaisala, Scott was a Business Development Manager for Roper Industries/Photometrics in Tucson, AZ. He has a BS in Physics from SUNY College at Cortland and an MS in Physics from Colorado State University. Scott is re-discovering downhill skiing now that he has returned to Colorado after 15 years in Arizona and 2 years abroad working in Finland.

Scott and I overlapped for about one year in graduate school at Colorado State University. He showed me the ropes when I first started working in the laser spectroscopy lab and I am pleased to include his insight in this book.

Here is an excerpt from my interview with Scott:

How did you make the transition into industry?

One of the companies I was working with on the nerve re-growth project was Photometrics in Tucson, Arizona. They were making digital imaging systems for telescopes We were taking these CCD cameras and putting them on microscopes. Instead of pointing the cameras at outer space, we were pointing them at inner space – the physics was almost identical. After buying my third camera and “actively persuading” them to rewire and reprogram them, they finally said, ‘You know, you are the kind of person we want in our company.’ It was a wonderful transition to do something completely different and move into a business environment.

My transition was into an application specialist role where I was dealing with scientists. Our customers were scientists, so for me it was a good impedance match between the business and the academic environments. Academic customers don’t necessarily like talking to traditional sales or business people. They prefer to talk to someone who understands the research world they are working in. If you have a science research background then you have the ‘street cred’ they are looking for. I used to call myself a translator because I would translate academic speak into business speak, and vise versa, and help information flow as efficiently as possible.

I consider making this transition to be my biggest accomplishment. At that point I recognized that my ability to understand the interests of both the business and science communities was a unique skill that I could bring as an employee. From that point on I have worked in business environments that are heavily entrenched in scientific innovations or scientific research.

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