Family Business: A Chat with Austen Metzger
An ASG engineer talks about communication, collaboration and working with his brother
Austen Metzger began his ASG career as an intern. Now, he’s a full-time project manager. In this Q&A, Austen talks about how he made the journey to his current role and how he uses his communication skills to make ASG projects move. He also shares insights on making teamwork work, including working alongside his brother, ASG engineer Logan Metzger. Interested in working with medical device design? Austen has advice on that, too.
I noticed that you work with your brother, Logan. How do you and Logan work together?
Logan is my team lead. Working with him blends our work and home lives. It makes us feel closer and provides opportunities for different perspectives on priorities and projects. We communicate regularly about our projects and the teams we enjoy working with. We have a good relationship.
How did you discover ASG?
I had an internship in vision automation, and Logan mentioned that ASG was starting to do similar work. That sparked my interest. It’s where I started with ASG. Eventually, I got involved with supporting teams to design sustainable and user-friendly devices.
Can you tell us about your internship at ASG?
I started my ASG internship in 2017. The highlight of the year was visiting an equipment manufacturer and a contract manufacturer in Chicago. Later in the year, I worked in material coordination for asset-delivery projects. Those experiences helped me understand how devices are designed, produced and validated. I began to learn production manufacturing and how the business works. I also learned a lot about how to communicate with teams.
What was it like being a new employee at ASG?
ASG was smaller when I started working with the company, so it was easy to connect and get to everyone. At first, there was a lot of terminology and background information to learn. If you’re new to the medical device world, you may not understand the terminology right away, but it eventually all comes together. You learn how to get integrated with different teams and you find your preferred work style — what works best for you, and what works best for the clients.
What do you like most about working at ASG?
I like the teams I work with and the early development work. It’s great to support different areas of the project instead of working in a silo. Some weeks we’re testing, and other times we focus on new design ideas. I learn a lot about different areas of medical devices, including materials, human factors, industrial design, sustainability and the business value of what we produce. Our teams make decisions that can really improve how patients use their medical devices — and ultimately improve their lives. It’s pretty cool.
Tell us about what you do as an engineer and project manager.
Most of the day-to-day work is project coordination with external partners and vendors to move forward the device’s design. It’s a big loop of design, molding components, building prototypes, testing and then redesign. It’s a constant learning process and a continuous cycle of testing and understanding more about your device and how to satisfy patient and project requirements.
What does a typical day at work look like?
Every day is different, which makes work fun. I usually have a couple of meetings to either get updates from the teams and workstreams on their design work. Then I try to get some testing in or review molded parts with the engineers.
How do you work with other team members?
A big part of working with a team is understanding what people are good at, then trying to leverage those strengths. Each of us has different types of testing or analysis experience that we know best. It also helps to understand what each team member enjoys doing, and where they prefer to work. When we know these things, we can collaborate better and do a better job for our clients.
How do you work with clients?
I first learn how they like to communicate. Some people work well by text updates, like if you need something urgent, you text them and then they can send you an e-mail or set up a quick meeting. I like to look at how people like to work and how they like to communicate. Some people prefer phone calls. If you’re working with a new client, it’s good to figure out their communication style and what their project priorities are. Some people don’t respond to email, but they do respond to a text or call.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I like to go to the gym, ride my bike and read about investment markets, personal finance and the economy. I also enjoy watching Formula 1 racing and following drivers throughout the season as they use cutting-edge technology to make improvements on their cars. I know Doug Koeneman likes F1 too. He went to the race in Texas back in October.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired to work on products that people use and that really make an impact on their lives. I think that’s where we make a big impact at ASG in the medical device world. We can be a part of the team that manufactures medical devices that deliver critical therapies people need in their daily lives. Improving the patient experience is an important goal in health care. Medical devices can play a crucial role in this by making diagnosis and treatment more efficient and effective, as well as more comfortable for patients. By focusing on small improvements and continuously working to improve medical devices, we can help ensure that patients receive the best possible care.
Travel inspires me too. Last summer, I went to Italy and Switzerland. My wife, Anna, and Logan joined me on the trip. Everyone we met in Europe was friendly and the culture was amazing. At 7 p.m., people would go to the town square and walk around with a drink, talk and just let life flow. I like to see how other people live around the world. Thailand is next on my list.
Any advice for others who may be interested in this field of work?
Learn to communicate with people. If you enjoy working on a team, take the time and ask if there’s anything you can do to help, whether the task is big or small. Once people see you do something well, they usually say, “Hey, can you also help with this?” If you connect with people, you build better relationships and have a healthier work environment and team.
How do you balance your work and home life?
It’s simple: Close the laptop. If I have a day off, I respond to anything that’s urgent beforehand. When I’m away, people can reach out and text or call if something urgent comes up, but for the most part I don’t check my email on the weekends. It’s nice to have that break. Everyone should try to take that time.
Do Austen and his work interest you? Check out our Careers page to learn more.