Executive Profiles


Frank Gäbler, Director of Marketing, Coherent, Germany

Frank Gäbler is Director of Marketing for the Material Processing Segment at Coherent Inc. He joined Coherent in 2002 as Market Development Manager, responsible for Material Processing Applications in Europe and moved into the role as Sr. Product Marketing Manager for CO2 lasers in Bloomfield, CT USA. Prior to joining Coherent, he held various positions within the laser industry since 1995.  He holds a Dipl.-Ing. Manufacturing Technology degree from FhG, Institute of Lasertechnik, RWTH in Aachen, Germany.


Christoph Harder, President, Swissphotonics, Swizterland

Dr. Christoph Harder has received in Electrical Engineering the Diploma from the ETH in 1979, Zurich and the Master in 1980 and the PhD in 1983, both from Caltech, California, USA. He has completed in 2001 the TEP at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.

Christoph has worked for 14 years at the IBM research lab in Rüschlikon in technology development and transfer. He is co-founder of the spun-out IBM Zurich Laser Enterprise which pioneered the 980nm diode lasers which today power up a large fraction of the worldwide internet. In order to bring technology to the market he has held a variety of staff and management positions at ETH, Caltech, IBM (Switzerland and USA), Uniphase, JDSU, Nortel and Bookham and presently he is the principle partner at Harder&Partner.

Dr. Harder has received honors: Fulbright Scholarship, IBM Master Inventor, IEEE/LEOS Kressel award and OSA fellow. He is member of SATW (and on SAB), IEEE/LEOS and OSA. He has been (or is) on the board of JDSU, Nortel, Bookham, Switzerland AG and IEEE Photonics, OSA, BHL AG, Swissmem topic group “Photonics” and Swissphotonics.
Dr. Harder is the President of the „Verein Schweizer Laser und Photonik Netz“ which is supported as “Swissphotonics NTN” by the CTI and by Photonics21.


John Harvey, CEO, Southern Photonics, New Zealand

Since completing his PhD, John has been employed at the University of Auckland performing teaching and research in a variety of areas of optics, encompassing Laser Physics, Cell Biology, Biophotonics and Communications Engineering. In recent decades his research work has moved increasingly into the area of Laser Physics and its applications, concentrated in the areas of nonlinear fibre optics, and high speed optical communications systems and devices. In 2002 he formed a company to manufacture Test and Measurement instrumentation for the high speed optical communications sector. This company grew to the point where the Test and Measurement unit of the company was spun off as a separate company in 2012, while Southern Photonics concentrates on consulting work and the manufacture of fibre laser systems. He is now working full time within the company whilst also promoting the development of Industry/University linkages and collaborations within the wider photonics sector. He is also the  commercialisation manager for the newly formed Dodd Walls Centre for Photonics and Quantum Science, a Centre of Research Excellence linking six Universities in New Zealand.


Inge Kabert, Director Business Development, Thorlabas, Germany

Inge Kabert has worked in the Photonics Industry for 25 years. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering with a focus in Medical Device Technology in Germany. She always worked for companies with headquarters in the USA, such as Eli Lilly, Coherent, and Thorlabs. She started her career as a service engineer, moved on to Technical Support and Sales, and different management positions.

She started working for Thorlabs in 1996 and had the opportunity of wearing different heads through this fast growing company. Inge Kabert has moved over the years from Germany to the UK, Sweden, and different states in the USA and became a successful part integrating and welding several wholly owned design and manufacturing entities into a cohesive enterprise. Today, Thorlabs has 15 substantial design and production facilities located in 7 countries.

Inge Kabert relocated back to Germany beginning of 2014 as Director of Business Development working together with Alex Cable founder and president of Thorlabs.


Wilhelm Kaenders, President, TOPTICA Photonics AG, Germany

Wilhelm Kaenders is co-founder of TOPTICA Photonics AG, one of the leading European high-tech laser and photonics company, headquartered in Gräfelfing near Munich, Germany and with offices in Rochester, NY and San Jose, CA in the US. With now 200-people the company focuses on laser development and production for sophisticated, high-precision test and measurement laser tools for industry and academia.  He runs the company since its start in 1998 and as Vorstand/President he has directed the growth from a small start-up to a fully developed international operation. TOPTICA’s core business addresses the international industrial and academic research and emerging industrial application markets. The scientific field of quantum optics, in particular the strongly emerging cold atom and ion physics activities have been using the laser instrumentation developed at TOPTICA for many years documented in hundreds of scientific papers. Joint activities with the Optical Science Center in Tucson, AZ (Prof. Mansuripur) led to the development of static and dynamic optical disk test equipment, which is still used globally today for all Xbox-related disk production activities. Driven by the request of the print industry, sophisticated laser technology was developed using blue laser diode technology in 2000 for direct structuring of silver and polymer-based printing plates. The recent expansion of the company’s activities into the field of biophotonics was driven and spearheaded by him in 2009, leading to the recent acquisition of TILL Photonics GmbH, a live-cell imaging company, also based near Munich.


Mike Mielke, Program Manager, Micro Processing, TRUMPF, USA

Dr. Michael Mielke is Program Manager for TRUMPF’s Micro Processing business in North America.  Prior to joining TRUMPF, he was Chief Scientist at Raydiance.  Dr. Mielke has been awarded 12 U.S. and international patents, has published more than 20 refereed journal and proceedings articles, and has performed more than 50 technical presentations at major interdisciplinary conferences around the world.  In 2014, he was given the Professional Achievement Award from the College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida.  Dr. Mielke is Chair of the Public Policy Committee for the Optical Society of America (OSA) and is Associate Editor for the IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics.  He is a Senior Member of OSA and SPIE, and he serves as Subcommittee Chair for CLEO A&T 2: Industrial Applications.  Dr. Mielke earned his BS in Physics from the University of Florida and his PhD in Optics from CREOL at the University of Central Florida.


Eric Mottay, President and CEO, Amplitude Systemes, France

Eric Mottay is the president and CEO of Amplitude Systemes, France, a company he founded in 2001 and which is now a leader in diode-pumped ultrafast lasers. Eric graduated from the Ecole Superieure d'Optique, Orsay, in 1985, and has since specialized in laser development and manufacturing. During his career, he developed and brought to the market numerous solid-state lasers, is the author of many scientific papers and holds several patents in the field.


Martin Schell, Executive Director, Fraunhofer HHI, Germany

Martin Schell is a professor in the department of Solid State Physics of the Technical University of Berlin, chair for Optic and Optoelectronic Integration, and is jointly heading the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute, Berlin, Germany.

He received the Dipl.-Phys. degree from the Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Germany, in 1989, and the Dr. rer. nat. degree from the Technical University Berlin, in 1993. He joined the Heinrich Hertz Institute in 2005 as head of the Photonic Component department. In 2010, he became deputy head of HHI. Since 2014, he co-heads HHI together with Thomas Wiegand.

From 2002 to 2005, he was head of production and procurement at Infineon Fiber Optics, Berlin, Germany, leading ~1000 employees in three nations and four sites. Prior to that, he was segment leader Optical Components, responsible for marketing, strategy, and product development for a product segment with $ 12 million sales and ~20 employees.