from developer to project manager
Brainlab Project Managers are essential to our Research and Development. They make sure projects are completed smoothly and punctually and they function as the glue that holds teams together. We recently sat down with Alex, who began 6 years ago as a Design Engineer and today leads a very successful and cheerful team within Brainlab R&D.
In 2007, one of my former study mates, who was working for Brainlab at the time, told me about an open Mechanical Design Engineer position. I was working in a similar position in a different company back then. My friend always rhapsodized about the great working atmosphere, the young colleagues, the cool products they develop, the yummy restaurant and so on. That is why I applied for this job. Two weeks later I was invited for an interview, where I got a good first impression of what my friend had told me about. The next day I got the position.
I started in the Cranial Division developing instruments for Neuro and ENT surgeries from the first design sketch to serial production. Due to one of my first projects – a navigated needle used to place catheters into ventricles – I became an expert for developing sterile single-use products with very strict regulatory requirements.
In the course of this position, I also became an external lead auditor to assure that our suppliers produce our products according to our requirements and international standards.
After 2 years at Brainlab, a general Instruments Team was created and I transferred there. At about that time, I started taking over project management responsibility for my projects in addition to their mechanical design. I figured out the soft skill part of project management, most of all the coordination of suppliers and the communication with stakeholders, and it is what I enjoy the most.
In parallel, I became a lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences in Munich where I taught students in the biomedical engineering department how to develop medical devices in a practical course. In that course the students improved or helped develop new Brainlab products.
In 2012, I took over a highly complex and strategic project to develop a completely new tracking technology for image guided surgery. Meanwhile, the team I coordinate grew to 11 colleagues, consisting of Project Managers as well as Project, Mechanical Design and Software Engineers. It is highly motivating because of its high priority at Brainlab, the direct involvement with our General Management and, of course, the perfect team I work with.