Eyeworld Supplements

2024 50 Years of ASCRS Supplement

This is a supplement to EyeWorld Magazine.

Issue link: https://supplements.eyeworld.org/i/1516004

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Page 51 of 67

A life-long career supporting ophthalmology 52 | SUPPLEMENT TO EYEWORLD CREATING A TRULY COMPREHENSIVE SUBSPECIALTY SOCIETY M r. Speares started in ophthalmology as a sales representative working for Grieshaber, a small, family-owned com- pany making precision ophthalmic instruments. "We were best known for retina, but we had a lot of cataract products, cornea, even a couple of glaucoma," he said. Several years into his career with Grieshaber, he had the chance to attend the 1994 ASCRS Annual Meeting for the first time. "It was a fascinating meeting because it was the first meeting I had been to that was solely fo- cused on cataract surgery, and I learned a lot," he said. "I loved that they allowed [industry] to sit in the sessions, which at that time other meetings did not allow. I found it very educational." It was at the 1998 ASCRS Annual Meeting in San Diego where Mr. Speares learned Alcon would be ac- quiring Grieshaber. "I had three young children, and we made the decision to move from Atlanta to Fort Worth. It was a tough decision, but one that I look back on as the best career step I ever made." At Alcon Mr. Speares started as an international product manager, working in 48 countries during his time there. "I had an amazing experience seeing how differently ophthalmologists around the world practiced but also seeing how similar the challenges were. No matter the country, challenges usual- ly centered around finances, education, and product avail- ability." Aer moving into several roles culminating in leading global surgical marketing for Alcon, Mr. Speares went back to his roots, working in a small company with big ambitions. In 2015 he le Alcon to start up the commercial operations for Glaukos in Eu- rope and the Middle East. In the fall of 2017, Mr. Speares said Dr. Donnenfeld broached the subject of him joining ASCRS as executive director, but this actually wasn't the first time an oph- thalmologist mentioned the possibility. "I was at the ESCRS 2006 Annual Meeting in London, and Robert Stegmann, MD, came up to me and said, 'What are you going to do in 4 or 5 years?'" Mr. Speares said that Dr. Stegmann suggested that he was perfectly suited to follow Mr. Karcher as the next ASCRS Executive Director. "Right before Dave announced his retirement and before they began the search, Steve Lane had come up to me and said, 'Dave Karcher is going to announce his retirement. You should put your hat in the ring.' I said, 'I don't know anything about running a nonprofit.' He said, 'You'd be a natural fit.' So when Eric mentioned it, I reflected on those previous conversations," Mr. Speares said. "I started reflecting on all the years I had been in ophthalmolog y and how good ophthalmolog y had been to me and my family. I thought, 'is is a great way to wind up my career, take everything that I've learned and done and apply it to this role. e more I learned about the role, the more I learned about where the orga- nization wanted to go and some of the challenges it was facing. … It just felt like fate." Mr. Speares (le) with Mark Forchette (right) when he was working with Grieshaber at the ASCRS Annual Meeting in April 1998 in San Diego. Source: Steve Speares Mr. Speares working with Alcon in 2002 at the ESCRS meeting. Source: Steve Speares Mr. Speares (second from le) at a meeting in Oman in 2016 while working for Glaukos, with Greg Kunst (le) and Stuart Windsor (right). Source: Steve Speares

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