[Interview] – Starting a new job in lockdown – Piotr Matyba
Piotr: Hi, so my name is Piotr Matyba. I have a wife, Sandra, we are both academics and we have two daughters, Helena and Ingrid. They are two and five, so an exciting time.
I have a Ph.D. in physics from Umea University. My major is in what is called Organic Photonics. During my Ph.D., I worked on sorts of light-emitting devices. After my Ph.D. we moved to the US, and then I took a little bit of a change in my research profile. I worked with laser development at JILA. It’s an Institute at the Colorado University and the National Institute of standards and technology, (NIST).
That was for four years then we moved back to Sweden. I have recently started working as a Senior Laser Development Engineer for Coherent in Glasgow.
Benet: You’ve had a pretty interesting experience of things over the last two months though, because you’ve moved to a new company, right, as the entire country goes into lockdown. What has happened, and how has this worked out so far?
Piotr: It’s extremely complicated. There’s one thing that I’m sure of, I need to focus on working from home. I was there. I lived in Glasgow for one month. We had this vision that I’ll move and then prepare the ground for the family move. We put a schedule, let’s say half a year, after which we all move. So, we talked to agents about the house and selling everything here in Sweden and everything was going fine. We knew that there’s some kind of virus, but it was in February – you don’t know what’s going to happen. Then in March, you hear this accelerated and in April, everything is locked.
So now, everything is kind of put on hold because moving even traveling is actually an issue, it’s a challenge just moving around. It’s even more disruptive for me as I was in the middle of this transition period. You’re applying for a National Insurance number, for a bank account and all these things. It takes six to eight weeks to get an NI number. You don’t have an NI number, you don’t exist. I can’t get the salary, can’t get a bank account, and then, so you don’t have a bank account, you can’t get the internet. If you don’t have the internet, you don’t exist.
So, at some point, I was a little bit stressed that if I get locked down, you know, in my apartment, in Glasgow, I won’t be able to do anything – even to work remotely.
My manager told me that it would be better for me to just go home to Sweden. Since I have to work remotely, it doesn’t really matter if you’re sitting in Glasgow or you’re anywhere else, as long as you have good internet connection. So as I’m here, I’m working, but it’s challenging because it’s difficult for everyone to stay healthy.
So the whole R and D is working remotely. There’s effectively one person per week, in the factory. So whilst this is going on we’re kind of thinking, discussing how we will proceed. I have things to do. I started with two projects, so I’m very busy and I am confident that things will improve.
In part 2 of this interview, Piotr discusses his experience of moving to and working in different countries and what he has learned from these experiences.
In part 3 of this interview we talk to Piotr Matyba about the challenges of transitioning from a career in academia to a career in industry.
In part 4 of this interview we talk to Piotr Matyba, about some of the developments in the Photonics industry that excite him the most.
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