Tanja Beshear, Product Stability Group Leader at Covidien

Tanja Beshear is an ASQ certified Reliability Engineer and a Product Stability Group Leader at Covidien in Boulder, Colorado.  Her role involves ensuring the long-term stability and reliability of expiration dated, disposable electro-surgical devices. She received an MS in Physics from the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany where she focused on experimental and applied Physics. She began her career developing fiber-optic transceivers at Siemens in Berlin where she quickly found a niche in Reliability Engineering and Failure Analysis.  She continued her career at Siemens, Infineon, and Osram Opto-Semiconductors in San Jose, CA before moving to Colorado to work at Picolight. In these roles she worked as a Quality and Reliability Manager on a wide array of opto-electronic devices. She then moved into the medical devices industry at Covidien.

Tanja lives with her husband and son in Lafayette, Colorado. Playing chess is a family hobby, and she enjoys volunteering as the assistant coach for the local elementary school chess team. She also finds that Yoga helps her stay healthy and centered.

Here is an excerpt from her interview:

Are there specific roles in an industrial environment that are particularly well suited to a science background?

Leadership roles that require one to evaluate, synthesize, and make decisions based on a lot of different information are good roles for scientists. I have met many engineering managers, quality and reliability managers, and CEO’s of startups who were scientists.

I have also seen very good software engineers who came out of a traditional physics curriculum. You can go even into finance or business management because you develop solid math skills. It’s exciting because there is not just a specific niche for scientists. If you have a good science education then the world is your oyster and you can do almost anything.

That’s a great perspective. Knowing all this that you’ve just relayed, how do you sell yourself to a potential employer?

It’s important to evaluate this question regularly throughout your career.  I work in reliability engineering and failure analysis, so I sell my broad technical skills.  I also show that I supplement these with managerial, teamwork, and communication skills.  I emphasize that I am flexible and adept at working with people from different cultures and backgrounds around the world.

I’m reminded of an old slogan for a German chemical company: “At BASF, we don’t make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better.”  That’s where I see myself. I haven’t designed the products I work with, but I make them better and that’s where I get satisfaction.

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