The Power List 2021 – Power List
Arianna Schoess Vargas
Managing Director, Heidelberg Engineering
What path led you to ophthalmology?
With my father, Christoph Schoess, being one of the founders of Heidelberg Engineering, I was simply born into it. However, until my late 20s I refused to follow in his footsteps. I completely changed my mind when I attended my first Heidelberg Engineering Internat iona l SPECTRALIS Symposium. Once I got to experience the passion that both researchers and staff had for improving patient care, I knew I wanted to be part of it.
How does Heidelberg Engineering promote gender equality at all levels?
By making it visible and a topic of discussion. There is no reason for our company not to reflect the gender and ethnicity distribution of the general population. Last year, we made embracing diversity a higher priority within our organization. We issued our first Diversity Report and, though we are not reflecting the general population yet, women at Heidelberg Engineering are strongly represented in traditionally male-dominated areas, such as technology and management. We also regularly invite girls to visit our company and learn about possible careers in STEM professions. We encourage their interaction with our female developers and women in top leadership positions to show them what their professional life might look like in the future. We actually have a higher percentage of women in top management positions than in the company overall. Being a young mother at the company’s helm, I get a lot of feedback from parents who don’t feel like they have to give up their career. We need to do our part in supporting the balance of work and family life for everyone. This encourages parents to find new models for the distribution of tasks and makes it easier for employees to return to work after parental leave. I believe in making imbalances visible. Promoting role models is another important element; it reduces potential prejudices and makes it more normal for women to have a seat at the table. Therefore, I appreciate the gesture of The Ophthalmologist with this year’s Power List.
What’s the most exciting project you’re working on?
One of the most exciting projects that I’m working on is the establishment of a Glaucoma Research Consortium. The primary goal is to improve the detection and staging of glaucoma and its progression in non-myopic and myopic eyes. We see this as an opportunity to foster collaboration among our clinical investigators, collect data for research and standardize the structural definitions for glaucoma. A further goal is to visually integrate ONH, pp-RNFL and macula OCT imaging data within clinically intuitive dashboards. To facilitate this Consortium, we have drawn on all our core technologies from cSLO imaging, OCT, real-time processing and healthcare IT technologies. We have developed a scalable imaging and datamanagement solution to foster exchange. The Consortium is intended to advance scientific knowledge, while accelerating the introduction of clinically-relevant, innovative products to the market.
Over the next five years, the challenging environment will require continuous performance, usability, and workflow enhancements to increase practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes. Heidelberg Engineering will continue to resolve the smallest details supported by a multimodal imaging approach to inform scientific research and generate accurate analytics. Having fast access to data and a comprehensive set of tools on one reliable imaging platform will reduce the effort required for experts to perform at their best and provide the right treatment at the right time.