Karin Burger

Karin Burger, SPIE Europe PLG Secretary
Manager Europe
SPIE Europe

Karin is responsible for the execution of all European SPIE events, as well as liaising with other parties in the optics and photonics field such as industry groups, clusters, and optical societies throughout Europe. More recently, she has taken on the secretariat for the APPG for Photonics and Quantum on request by the Photonics Leadership Group, an activity that allows SPIE to try and better connect the photonics industry with MPs in Westminster.

Growing up in her native Germany, Karin focused on languages during her education and completed A-levels in English, French, Politics, and Physics. After that, Plan A was university, but her chosen subject was “Numerus Clausus” subject which, in this case, meant a wait of two years. Instead, Plan B took her to a two-year training course as a “European Secretary” involving English, French, Spanish, Secretarial Studies, and a small part of event management which gave an insight into herding cats in the office. That course made university obsolete, and she joined the world of work immediately.

The majority of her working life has been spent in the Optics & Photonics field – after a stint as secretary at the German Foreign Office including a posting to Liverpool, Karin moved into Event Management full time and joined a Professional Congress Organiser specialising in events for the optics and photonics field. As for many new jobs, there was no formal education for event management at that time, and she trained on the job, organising the first event for SPIE in 1990.  The next step was the day-to-day management of the EUROPTO joint venture, carrying out events on behalf of the European Optical Society and SPIE.  A short break in the topic saw her move to the UK where she worked in general business events, only to be asked to return to SPIE in 2001 to take on the European Office.  In her current position as Manager Europe for SPIE, she leads a team of colleagues based in the UK and Czech Republic, as well as representing SPIE on committees in the UK and Europe. Her main interest lies in connecting people, with a strong belief that, whilst online meetings are convenient, they are no replacement for a get-together in the pub after a day of presentations; personal networking opportunities are the core of any event!

“I very much subscribe to the belief that if you find a job you enjoy, you will never work a day in your life, but have a hobby that keeps you going. My education gave me the background, but the routes I took fed a natural inclination to organise, and speak different languages. Combine that with an exciting field such as photonics, and you can’t go wrong. It’s amazing to hear all the research at the various events, and the best days are those when I’m at a function and hear a comment and think – “Hold on, there was somebody the other day talking about this, do they know each other? If not, can I introduce them?” Also, mentors are important! I had the right people in my life at the right time, and they believed that I’d be able to do what they expected of me. If they believed it, why wouldn’t I?”