MILTON CHANG of Incubic Management was president of
Newport and New Focus. He is currently director of mBio Diagnostics
and Aurrion; a trustee of Caltech; a member of the SEC Advisory
Committee on Small and Emerging Companies; and serves on
advisory boards and mentors entrepreneurs. Chang is a Fellow of
IEEE, OSA, and LIA. Direct your business, management, and career
questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out his
book Toward Entrepreneurship at www.miltonchang.com.
Photonics: Technology, business,
and everything else
I felt honored to be given the opportunity to write this Business Forum
column when then editor-in-chief of
Laser Focus World Jeff Bairstow invited me to contribute some 20 years
ago. Jeff had the foresight to know
that it is good to inject business and
management insight into an industry
magazine. However, the time hasn’t
been right until now to write this.
With this column, I would like
to bring something you don’t get in
any other publication. That probably
implies adding commentary to reporting and using my experience to sprinkle
wisdom that hopefully can be broadly
applied. I do what I do because my
belief is that our industry can be better off if we have more broadly knowledgeable and business-savvy engineers.
I need your feedback and guidance to
pursue this goal effectively! I’d appreciate it if you are willing to play a part
to help me. I encourage you to contact
me ( email@example.com) to
develop an ongoing relationship. Tell
me about what excites you and what
you want to share with fellow readers
of Laser Focus World.
Hearing from you and getting to
know you will enable me to avoid
working in an anechoic chamber,
“talking” to a blank wall to become
irrelevant. You can send me any-
thing—you just have to trust my
judgment to sort out whether the
material is appropriate for broad dis-
semination. I also want you to tell me
if I wrote something awry. Nothing
personal! Together, we can make this
column relevant, interesting, infor-
mative, and educational.
Here are a few examples of what you’ll read in future issues and how you
can help me:
Please write to me about events in your company, university, or wherever you
work, and in your community. I would like you to comment on what you’ve
learned and how you feel about your work and about the photonics industry.
It can also be personal such as the wisdom of an “a-ha” moment, or a discovery to correct a common misconception about human nature. And like Jeff, I
would like to cover social causes, too. Tell me about your community or policies
you like or hate to have to live with. In short, I want to be your advocacy voice.
The objective is to get insights from movers and shakers of our industry, and
anyone who can teach us anything extraordinary that could impact our community and our personal well-being. The discussion can be on technology development, business trends, management techniques, entrepreneurial skills, government funding, and even personal philosophy in any of these areas.
I will be just as happy to learn about growing a company or mistakes to avoid.
There, you can point me to individuals who you respect, and for that matter
disdain. I will do my best to distill out the essence and put their experiences
and viewpoints in a context to be broadly applicable.
In the case of a significant technology development, for example, I may be
interviewing a company C TO or a big professor. The discussion will drift from
what the technology is and what it can do to learning: how the idea was conceived, how the individual was able to secure the funding support to develop
the idea, and what are the steps to bring it to fruition. We may have a similar
discussion on commercialization.
For startup companies, we will very quickly drift from the excitement of the
product to how the team was assembled, the business model, challenges raising money, etc. When it comes to running a business, I may be discussing what
to do and what not to do.
Let’s get the show on the road!