Dr. Alka Swanson

Alka is one of the most respected and informed engineers in the fiber optic component market. She has gained a solid reputation as an industry leader in five major ways: 1) selected as GM to a mulit-hundred-million dollar division of a leading vendor; 2) made a significant impact on manufacturing start-ups, 3) consulted to many companies regarding both engineering and business development; 4) appointed to the boards of several companies; and 5) worked as a technology innovator.

Alka began her career as a Member of the Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories where she managed multiple optical device projects. They included low-cost packaging and high-temperature superconductors. After six years, she left to enter the business world.

Alka became VP of Sales & Marketing of EPITAXX. When she started at the detector supplier, sales were only at $20 million. After she initiated two new product lines, and directed them up the food chain, total revenue reached $200 million per year.

With EPITAXX’s purchase by JDSU in 1999, Alka became GM of the unit, managing over 1,000 employees. Under her leadership, in four quarters, there was 210% growth in revenue as well as 250% growth in profits.

When the bubble burst, Alka remained a cool-headed, disciplined executive. Under her leadership, she continued to effectively meet the requirements of both her customers and her workers.

From 2003 to 2009, Alka took on several high-level executive roles at Princeton Lightwave, a producer of sensors and imaging InP subsystems as well as 3D time of flight imaging cameras. During her tenure, particularly as COO/CFO, PLI became a leader in key technologies for defense and security apps, with revenue increasing from zero to several million dollars. Alka is now a board member there. (She also was on the board of advisors for a while with Galayor, and during that time, the company was acquired.)

In 2011, Alka became CEO of COGO Optronics, a supplier of next-generation solutions for high-speed optical networks. In 2013, TeraXion bought the Canadian subsidiary of the firm.

At OFC 2014, Alka was one of the organizers of Photonic Integrated Circuits Workshop.

She received her PhD in Physics from Boston University.

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"Alka is the most complete executive I have met. She originally excelled as a technologist and then she became a business executive, mastering that quickly and rising to be GM of a several hundred million dollar business unit and then CFO/COO of a startup. She has a versatile mind so she can handle virtually any business situation and she has a depth of self confidence that allows her to act coolly and wisely in any stressful situation."

— Jay Liebowitz

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