Life After JILA: Tanya Ramond

Submitted by kennac on Mon, 05/20/2024 - 8:07 am

Tanya Ramond, the Founder and CEO of Sapienne Consulting

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Tanya Ramond

While industry and academia tend to be the two main job trajectories after graduating with a Ph.D. or postdoctoral degree, some individuals, like Tanya Ramond, combine aspects of these careers in her role as Founder and CEO of Sapienne Consulting

“As an independent consultant, I am driven by a deep passion for commercialization and product strategy in deep tech areas,” Ramond elaborates. “These areas of technology are particularly challenging, often hardware-based, and heavily reliant on intellectual property. My expertise and enthusiasm extend to fields like quantum physics, optics, aerospace, and clean tech, inspiring those around me to push the boundaries of what is possible.” 

Ramond’s journey towards Sapienne Consulting began when she graduated with her Ph.D. from JILA and the University of Colorado Boulder, studying under the late JILA Fellow Carl Lineberger. Ramond then transitioned to doing a postdoctoral degree at NIST. “I stayed in academia,” Ramond remarks about that time. “But then decided that wasn't for me in the long term. So I then went into aerospace and worked at Ball Aerospace for 10 years.” 

After her time at Ball, Ramond spent several years working at smaller companies and start-ups, learning more about the business development side of the tech industry. Ramond explains “Up to that point, I've been very much in more engineering, technical roles. But the pain point I saw was more around getting technologies into the market correctly, in ways that actually address problems, and where people will buy them.” 

Observing these issues inspired Ramond to use her scientific background, MBA, and more recently acquired business skills to encourage small companies and start-ups to develop effective use cases for their products. “I learned I could speak both scientific/engineering and business, which few people can do. So, this was what I was driven to do. This is where I wanted to help and make a difference,” she adds. 

Ramond’s passions and ideas culminated in Sapienne Consulting in 2015, which offers innovation and commercialization services to small companies and start-ups, from identifying target markets and market roadmaps to defining use cases and customer personas. While a lot of Ramond’s consulting is business-focused, she does find herself leaning on the skills she learned during her time at JILA. 

“The level of scientific excellence that you are exposed to at JILA establishes a high bar for your career expectations and doing a postdoc at NIST was no different,” Ramond elaborates. “It set the stage for an ability to spot amazing technology and amazing scientific talent.  I carried this through to my current mission that world-class technology deserves to make a world-class impact in the marketplace and in society, and I want to make that happen for a range of customers across industries from aerospace to renewable energy."

Ramond’s interest in the Colorado tech start-up industry has inspired her to advise various companies, including Aphelion Aerospace and other startups she mentors through the University of Colorado Research to Market program or TechStars accelerators.   She also works as a consultant for the Boulder Small Business Development Center and is the Treasurer of the Colorado Photonics Industry Association. 

“When I was at JILA, ‘quantum’ was not spelled with an upper-case ‘Q’ like it is now,” Ramond states. “Today, the word is starting to spread about the world-class Quantum ecosystem we have here in Colorado—and have always had here in Colorado—and that also applies to other Colorado deep tech prowess such as aerospace and cleantech.  It is exciting to start seeing the momentum finally build.” 

Ramond also reflected on her time at JILA and considered what advice she would pass on to the next generation of graduate students and postdocs. “You will leave JILA with not simply your scientific and technical skills, but also with a key to a world of career possibilities,” she says. “Many of these opportunities have not been well-defined for you.  Take the enthusiasm and thirst for scientific discovery and apply that to discover your path beyond JILA. “ 

Written by Kenna Hughes-Castleberry, JILA Science Communicator

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