From Academia to Industry: Nova’s Physicists Share their Perspectives on the Move
Meet our forward-thinking physicists: Dora Kholmiansky, Elad Schleifer, Eyal Cohen, Hadas Inbar, Samdar Farber, and Yael Kurtzweil Segev who are shaping the future.
They all made a pivotal career choice by transitioning from academic laboratories to the cutting-edge world of industrial technology. We've gathered them here to share their invaluable experiences and engage in an enlightening discussion.
The academia is often seen as a nurturing but challenging environment for talented physicists. What sparked the idea to transition from academia to an industrial career?
Elad: During our time at Givat Ram, the academy sometimes sheltered us from the realities of the industry. I've often heard the notion that "research only happens in academia," which is a perspective I strongly disagree with. Personally, I found the work environment in academia to be less suitable for me. I didn't want to spend my days writing grants and chasing funding; I wanted to be hands-on with research most of the time. Looking back, these experiences prepared me for my initial role at Nova. The significant advantage of transitioning to Nova was the availability of budgets, allowing me to focus on my research without the constant worry about funding, as Nova provides the necessary resources for this work to thrive.
Yael: During my master's degree, I conducted captivating research and worked on a specific device. I aspired to create something meaningful, to make a positive impact in the world. In academia, this direction wasn't the norm; it wasn't where the focus lay. I sought a place where things operated differently, where this aspiration could find its home.
Smadar: I realized that the passion to pursue a doctorate wasn't within me. While I had my doubts and thoughts, it became evident that my path was leading me from academia into the industry.
So, you made the significant decision to transition into the industry - did this change meet your expectations?
Dora: I was looking for a blend of three key factors: the opportunity to thrive in a supportive professional environment that respects employees' personal time, a setting conducive to professional growth, and, of course, the chance to collaborate with exceptional colleagues. Truth be told, I discovered all three aspects right here at Nova.
Hadas: Indeed, Dora joined Nova while she was pregnant in her second trimester, which, in my view, speaks highly of the company's values and underscores the presence of the very parameters Dora highlighted. In my case, close friends who had already experienced working at Nova highly recommended it to me. The transition from academia to industry not only met but also exceeded my expectations.
Yael: The immense thrill, for me, lies in witnessing the devices we work on being utilized daily in the market, benefiting our customers, and transforming lives. This excitement far surpasses the satisfaction of seeing an article I contributed to being published in a lab.
Elad: A close friend of mine back then told me, "Come on, you'll find it fascinating, join Nova, you won't regret it" - and I wholeheartedly agree, to this day I have no regrets.
Can you share a personal experience from your initial days at Nova that still stands out in your memory?
Smadar: My personal experience is intertwined with my daily life. I've been able to be there for my children and actively participate in their upbringing, which is very important to me. Simultaneously, I've also made significant progress within the company. It may sound hectic, but Nova enables this balance. Nova recognizes and values its employees, considering all aspects of their lives. This isn't just beneficial for parents; even those without children can leave work at 4:00 pm or engage in personal development opportunities, all of which are highly encouraged here.
Yael: As a mother of six children, I fully agree with Smadar. Nova offers me the flexibility to strike a balance between my professional growth and spending quality time with my family. Even my boss prioritizes family time with two or three afternoons a week blocked off. The only "reprimand" I've received since joining Nova was for scheduling a meeting at 4:00 p.m., with a gentle reminder that we try to avoid such scheduling unless it's absolutely necessary, out of respect for our employees' family commitments.
How does your professional experience at Nova differ from your previous positions elsewhere?
Smadar: From a professional perspective, like in any other workplace, there are tasks and projects to be managed. However, what sets Nova apart is the freedom and creativity embedded in every task or project. Here, we have the opportunity to explore and cultivate our ideas in directions we're passionate about. Nova encourages innovation, and employee-generated ideas have the potential to make a real impact beyond our organization.
Elad: Nova's commitment to technology and innovation is best demonstrated by our annual internal innovation competition, where employees are encouraged to present new ideas. This competition underscores Nova's dedication to excellence, fostering originality, and encouraging innovative thinking. It's a part of our company's DNA, a rare commitment to development and technology that sets Nova apart in the corporate world.
Hadas: Our work involves developing machines and technologies that will be integrated into Nova's tools in the future, typically within 5-8 years. However, there are instances where what I work on today can have an immediate impact. Sometimes, it's a product with a short development timeline, while other times, it's about solving urgent issues for a customer's machine. In essence, much of what we do involves research and problem-solving, driving innovation across the board.
Every challenge or problem that arises is like a unique puzzle waiting to be solved. We need to find solutions that are one-of-a-kind, something that no other company has. The real value comes when we not only solve these problems but implement these solutions into working machines that produce chips used in various applications. It's truly incredible to see the impact of the solutions we create, even in our everyday devices like my personal mobile phone. It's amazing how our work extends to so many areas.
Are there any other unique advantages to working at Nova that you haven't experienced in other companies?
Elad: I believe the positive atmosphere is quite noticeable here. Furthermore, being an Israeli company brings unique advantages. Our previous CEO, an Israeli, was recognized by 'Calcalist' as the best CEO in Israel among companies in the Tel Aviv 35 index. Our current CEO is also Israeli, and he has risen through the ranks within the company. One significant benefit is the accessibility to talk to anyone within the company, regardless of their position, and knowing that your input will be taken seriously. Nova isn't a massive corporation, so decisions made at the headquarters, even if they're in another country, have a direct impact on us. However, we are part of the headquarters here, which grants us influence. This kind of atmosphere, in my opinion, holds tremendous significance. I often describe it as a "start-up - family" culture, and that's what captivates me about the company. I've been with Nova for five years now, and I genuinely look forward to coming to work each day, which I believe is one of the reasons for my enduring enthusiasm.
Yael: I couldn't agree more. Although we're not a small company anymore, Nova has managed to retain a social and familial atmosphere, which is something that often gets lost in larger organizations. The fact that we are an Israeli company, with management and the core of our research based here in Israel, truly makes a difference. This isn't limited to those working in research; it has an impact on the entire company. For example, if Elad (Schleifer), who is now in development, comes up with an idea, he can simply stroll down the hall to the research division and collaborate on deep-level innovations. If Schleifer has a promising idea, he might be told, "Alright, allocate 70% of your time to develop this idea." Personally, I was seeking an environment that would allow me to cultivate and bring to life the skills I've acquired, and what's happening here at Nova is, in my eyes, ideal.
Inspiring! Many thanks to our senior physicists for sharing their experiences and insights. We're delighted that you made the transition to industry and that you're contributing your expertise here at Nova.