Alex Maslowski, Manager, Radiation Transport Algorithms:“Varian people are rigorous. We have to be.” | Varian

Alex Maslowski, Manager, Radiation Transport Algorithms:“Varian people are rigorous. We have to be.”

WHAT DO YOU DO AT VARIAN?

I manage and direct development efforts in our team. If I have time left after the management duties are done, I research numerical methods.

WHAT’S YOUR BACKGROUND?

I was born in Venezuela, South America, into a mixed family. Half of my relatives have local roots while the other half came from Eastern Europe after World War II. I moved to the US in 1999 and found a home in the Texan culture. Received a Bachelor’s and PhD degree from Texas A&M University with honors in, respectively, 2003 and 2008. I married in 2003 and started a family a few years later. In 2008, I joined Transpire Inc – a vendor to Varian Medical System. Transpire specialized in Radiation Transport – the numerical study of how radiation behaves. Transpire developed industrial and medical software applications to simulate with little run‐time (and quite accurately) how radiation behaves. In 2014 Varian acquired Transpire Inc., which included Transpire’s products, mainly the Acuros line of dose engines. The dose applications predict how a radiation oncology treatment imparts energy to the patient. If I am not working, then I am parenting at home. My wife and I have four kids, they keep us busy most of the time. It’s very rewarding to see the kids grow into their own destiny.

WHAT DOES YOUR WORK DAY LOOK LIKE?

I structure my work day around emails, meetings, reading and researching, and working on projects, which usually takes the most time within my work day. I am very strict with the time I allocate to tasks to make sure that parallel projects move forward. Projects can involve many different tasks. It could be software development, studying the physics in a new product, documenting the team’s progress or planning our team’s future needs. I enjoy research tasks the most. I read about different subjects. Papers on upcoming research projects for our team, programming languages, management and business subjects.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS SO FAR?

Developing Acuros CTS and launching it with our iCBCT product. It took 4 – 6 years to developAcuros CTS, it was quite stressful. We could have failed in so many places. But we pushed the envelope and deployed complete physics to the imaging domain. It has been a couple of years since that release, so I think it is time to come up with something new.

HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT VARIAN FINLAND?

Varian is the leader in radiation oncology. Almost ten years ago, my at the time employer Transpire presented its physics‐based solution to the scientific and business leadership in Varian. Transpire’s interactions with Varian Finland started then, and they culminated in the launch of a few successful products (Acuros BV, Acuros XB, Acuros CTS, Acuros PT … plus a few more in the pipeline). After Transpire’s acquisition by Varian in 2014, the former Transpire employees began reporting directly to Varian Finland’s office in Helsinki and collaborating with Varian Finland’s scientists. Now I live in Helsinki with my family to complete the integration of our teams.

ON CHOOSING VARIAN

Varian’s leadership is always quite active both defining the business direction of the company and promoting scientific excellence. This is a great mixture of qualities to have. Varian is also clear about its mission – fighting cancer is a good and fulfilling mission. I like my job, so I’ve decided to stay post‐acquisition and build a career with Varian.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF FINLAND

Great weather! (Except for October and November, but everywhere I’ve lived has a couple of bad weather months). Summer was warm, and winter has been snowy. Lots of outside activities for families with kids. Love it!

ON LIVING AND WORKING IN FINLAND

Infrastructure is great in Finland. Transportation system and cafeterias are amazing. And did I mention that we’ve really enjoyed the weather!

ON WORKING AT VARIAN FINLAND

Work culture is calm and confident. I could learn from the Finns to not make every problem an existential crisis.

 ON YOUR WORK COMMUNITY

Virtual and diverse … half our team is stationed in the US and half in Finland with many colleagues in Switzerland and Hungary, so we have to not only merge time zones, but also work cultures. We develop many expectations from our culture that are not always satisfied in an international environment. It takes patience and lots of listening and negotiating, but it’s very rewarding when the community starts to work well and effectively. Diversity of thought also generates incredible results.

SENSE OF PURPOSE AT WORK

Developing products that are valuable to our customers. It is very rewarding to make a product that is easy to use, insightful and solid. It is good to work hard and be rewarded with a good product launch. The satisfaction comes from seeing a customer go “WOW ‐ this is awesome”, there is nothing like it.