Jan 17, 2019

20+ year optics veteran talks product development cycles, productivity hacks, and the future

Category: Industry Trends
20+ year optics veteran talks product development cycles, productivity hacks, and the future

We recently chatted with Bob Householder, Strategic Account Manager for the Americas. Bob’s background as an optical systems and technical LED lighting professional with a dual focus of optical product development and light management gives him a unique perspective as he helps to solve customer pain points for the Zemax sales team. See what Bob had to say about his role, the coolest uses of optics today, and where he sees the industry heading.

Q: What is your role at Zemax—and what are some of your favorite things about it?
A: I am the Strategic Account Manager for the Americas. I enjoy helping customers unlock the value of our software tools.

Q: Why does the optics industry appeal to you?
A: I have always been a visual learner and optics and LED illumination was a natural fit to both my learning style and general curiosity of optics starting with photography.

Q: What are some of the coolest uses of optics today?
A: I am most excited by the miniaturization of features in a “meta lens” to open up micro-imaging.

Q: What’s one professional app that you can’t live without?
A: CRM…it’s like breathing for sales professionals.

Q: How are customer expectations driving to better optical product capabilities?
A: Simulation accuracy and optimization for LED illumination are challenging and driving new features each year.

Q: Will you please share a recent story about solving a customer pain point?
A: While OpticStudio is a comprehensive and general optical design and simulation tool, there are always specific cases where customers need to fit another piece into the puzzle to solve a problem. The ability to create user defined objects and features helped solve a recent problem for a customer and the solution came from yet another customer posting to our knowledge base. The community is strong, creative, and willing to collaborate.

Q: What’s the best business advice you’ve been given?
A: For my work in sales it has to be to listen, learn, and then speak only when needed.

Q: What advice can you share with those dealing with shorter optical product development cycles?
A: My background of 20+ years in optical product development has taught me to work very hard to optimize workflow. I look for simple ways to reduce iterations through automation. I have used the OpticStudio ZPL macro language to speed up repetitive tasks. Over the past years, I have used such a macro to shave hours off each design by automating the extraction of tolerance data after long runs.

Q: What’s your favorite productivity hack?
A: I am a huge fan of Excel to build smart models of processes. I automated LED analyses, allowing for very quick comparisons. For Zemax sales, I have a full price modeling tool to help customers extract the best value for their investment. Like Excel, Zemax software provides numerous features and functionality for the creative mind to mold and shape.

Q: Where do you see the industry heading?
A: Less is more. Each industry experiences a consolidation of optical properties within the same component. Lower cost, simplification, weight reduction, and size are all driving to combine functionality in a way that is creating innovation. Zemax tools have kept pace and will continue to pull in the right direction. The focus we have on workflow optimization enables faster and more efficient innovation in our market.