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Sandra Guns is project manager at TNO Optics. With her biomedical background, she is the right person to ensure that the expertise of her department also leads to groundbreaking innovations in the medical world.
“TNO's Optics Department provides world-class technical solutions in the field of high-performance compact optical systems in highly demanding environments, such as space and the semiconductor industry. But we want to go further: we can also achieve a lot in the medical world. As a project manager, I work with a scientist and a business developer to devise new product-market combinations. With the spectrometer we developed to measure the composition of the surface of Mars, we can also monitor the composition of the dialysis fluid during the treatment of kidney patients, for example, which opens the door for customised treatment. We also use our optical knowledge in the field of light-tissue interaction, including in the areas of retinal imaging, image-guided interventions, cancer screening and photonic health patches.”
“It is my ambition to grow our biomedical photonics programme. With our group consisting of top researchers, we have a lot of knowledge. We must ensure a good match between this knowledge and expertise and market demand. What is our added value, where do we make the difference? Among other things our multidisciplinary approach. At TNO we have many disciplines under one roof, working closely together. As a project manager, I look after the connection.
“With a select group of young TNO employees I follow the TNO Leadership Development programme. I learn a lot from this. I mainly want to further develop my skills in positioning issues: How do we market our expertise? How do we make the connection internally? What should we invest in to strengthen our leading position in the medical world?”
“Soon we will have a trainee in the department. I look forward to that. I also did the TNO traineeship myself. I always thought I wanted to become a researcher, but I realised that a leadership role was also right for me. The traineeship gave me the opportunity to explore where my heart lay: lead a project or focus more on the content. This became very clear during the final period of my traineeship, at TNO Optics, where I still work today. I would like to introduce the trainee to all facets of project management, the nice stuff and the less nice stuff, and hope that she, like me, will find a role that is a good fit.”