Debbie Gustafson - 2021 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
CEO, Energetiq Technology, USA
SPIE Senior Member
Born in USA
When I was a young girl, I always worked alongside my dad on projects. We shingled our house and built a deck. My mom was supportive that women could do anything they wanted. In high school I did not want to take home economics. I chose to take small-engine repair and wood-working. At that time women were not allowed to do this. I had to convince the principal to allow me to attend these classes. At this point I realized that being a mechanical engineer and designing cars would be a great career.
As CEO, I am very lucky to be able to set the strategy and direction of the company. I work with everyone in the company to assure that Energetiq is a great place to work and fun! The company designs and manufacturers light sources used to measure and inspect semiconductor devices. It is a very dynamic environment and the team is very innovative. I spend a good amount of time working closely with our customers ensuring that our products meet their requirements today and in the future. I report to a board of directors, who give me guidance on the company’s success and supports our strategy for growth. Building a good team and making sure individuals work well together is at the heart of what I do.
I have always wanted to improve and grow in the organizations that I worked in. Getting to the director level took a lot energy and determination. Every time I was passed over for a director role, I asked for the requirements and made a clear path for myself to get there. In the end it took a change of company. At any time I could have given up and been satisfied with my role but I realized that I had the ability to take on more responsibility. I know that you need to continue to fight for what you want and hopefully have someone mentoring you to get there.
Don’t be afraid to let people know your goals and aspirations. I LOVE my job! Technology is constantly changing, and this makes the job challenging and exciting. A career in STEM allows you a career of learning and this ensures that you won’t be bored with your job. It is ok (even fun) to be the trailblazer and make the path easier for the next generation of women!