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Leader in Integrated ICT Hardware & Systems

Career Focus: Elisabeth Wintersteller, Training Programme Manager, IPIC, Tyndall

Posted on: 24 May 2024

Career Focus:  Elisabeth Wintersteller, Training Programme Manager,  IPIC, Tyndall

Elisabeth “Liz” Wintersteller, a Training Programme Manager at the Irish Photonic Integrated Centre (IPIC), SFI Centre for Photonics at Tyndall National Institute, University College Cork. Today she shares her career journey with us, the influence of her role models and describes how working at IPIC has empowered her to fulfil her potential. 

What is your current role?

In my current role I manage the daily operations (except finance) of two training programmes: the Centre for Doctoral Training PIADS, in which IPIC is partner with Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Glasgow, as well as the MSCA COFUND Sparkle, that trains postdoctoral fellows. I also support various colleagues across Tyndall in the delivery of training courses in compound semiconductor device fabrication and micro-transfer printing.

What path led you here?

I’ve been working in Higher Education Institutions since I’ve entered working life, having similar roles to my current one. It always included working with young researchers around training, organising courses, workshops – you name it! What path led me here? Frankly, a mix of chance, paired with opportunity, and I’d say over time also a good portion of skill. Working in higher education wasn’t necessarily my first choice, but it has been a great experience  for me, and I am happy where I am now. I always wanted to see the world and I think I’ve found a good way for me to achieve it through doing internships and working in different countries. I’ve worked in France, Ethiopia, Austria (where I’m originally from), Germany and now I’m in Ireland. Let’s see where the journey will lead me to next!


Did you have a role model who influenced your career choice?

I would say my family, in particular my older sister and parents. My sister, as well as my mum, did the equivalent of the Leaving Cert at a time when it wasn’t very common to do. This definitely encouraged me to do the same, as I thought, “if they can do it, so can I!”. In general, my parents have always supported me and allowed me try different things. My dad encouraged me to leave home and said: “you can always come back”.

 I have a deep admiration for Angela Merkel in her role as chancellor of Germany. Agreeing with her decisions and political views or not is irrelevan, I found her leadership to be authentic, steady, objective, calm, and trustworthy. For me these are characteristics worth aiming for.


How has working at Tyndall enabled you to fulfil your potential?

I found a very supportive and open work environment within my immediate team, the IPIC operations at Tyndall. There is a trust in each other, they make work easy and accept you for who you are. I highly value that. I appreciate the interactions, and learning from each other, and most importantly I can say this applies to the IPIC community in general, from summer fellows to PIs.


What advice would you give your younger self?

I would give myself a pep talk and say: Relax and cut yourself some slack. Making mistakes is ok, it is how you deal with them that matters. Don’t worry if you haven’t it all figured out, no one really has! You’ll find your way, even though it might look a little bit different from what you had anticipated. Be open to opportunities and take them as they arise, even though it might be scary at times. You will hardly ever regret taking an opportunity, but you will for sure regret not taking it!