Kenny from Thermo Fisher: I waited for an opportunity to move to Brno

Kenny Mani works at Thermo Fisher Scientific which develops electron microscopes and spectrometers. These devices are used by scientists around the world, for example to study viruses or to develop modern materials. How does an American with Indian roots feel about living in the Moravian metropolis? 

This interview was brought to you by one of our partners in Brno,  Thermo Fisher Scientific.

 What has brought you to Brno?

I am from Hillsboro Oregon US which is a divisional headquarters for Thermo Fisher. I had the pleasure of working with a number of Brno colleagues on my project and heard wonderful things about the work environment and the city. I’d made numerous business trips to Brno in the past and always looked for an opportunity to work here, so when the offer to grow a new life sciences business came up, I jumped on it. Also, I wanted my family (wife, daughter, who is now 11, and son, who is 8) to have a new experience of a different culture.

How do you find living in Brno as an expat?

It has been a good experience. We’ve made new friends. Language is definitely a barrier though as a lot of signs and communication is still in the local language. Google translator does help.

Our experience has been that Brno people are a closed society and until you really get to know them they don’t open up. Once they do though, they’re very friendly and fun to be around.

My kids have neighborhood friends that come over to our house to play and go to the park.

We send our kids to the local store on their own, allow them to visit parks, run around the neighborhood – we feel it’s safe enough to be outside on their own – something we wouldn’t do in the US.

I live in a pretty town called Chrlice in the south of Brno. Ernst Mach, a renowned physicist famous for Mach Speed, was born there. His bust stands in the town square.

Is Brno similar to the country you lived in before? What’s different?

Brno’s different than the US in many ways. On the surface, US people appear more friendly where they greet you. The public transport system here is fantastic while the US is still very much reliant on cars. People here are more social than in the US. Oh yes…and the weather here is a lot better than Oregon. We love the rains here.

What are your favorite places in Brno?

We often go to Olympia as the kids love the parks there and the rock climbing. We like walking and cycling by the river. We have visited the Spielberg castle, Moravian caves and the castles nearby many times. We’ve also volunteered at the Brno zoo, which was a lot of fun.

Let’s talk about your role in Thermo Fisher Scientific. What are you responsible for?

I’m the Director of Product Management for Life Sciences and responsible for defining the roadmaps and direction for products within my business unit. Some of the products have been used by leading researchers and even resulted in a Nobel prize.

Some people probably know only very little about electron microscopy. What is interesting about this discipline? Why did you choose to study electron microscopy?

I’ve always been fascinated with understanding how things work in a micro-nano scale environment; and electron microscopy enables us to do just this. Very often; I learn something new and fascinating; such as understanding how microorganisms work or cells interact. It is very rewarding to solve customers’ problems for drug research, diseases etc., when they’re trying to understand the mechanism of how cells work. For example, we’ve published 12 structures of the recent COVID protein using our Krios Electron microscope, which will enable better drug research and discovery.


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