In Memoriam Anna Margaretha Worst - van Dam

by OPHTEC on 10 August 2020

With great sorrow, we announce the passing of OPHTEC's founder, Anna Margaretha Worst-van Dam. 1928 - 2020

Mrs Worst was born in Amsterdam in 1928. Following her secondary education, she completed her training as a medical analyst. After having worked for Philips Duphar for seven years, including a year at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, Mrs Worst and her husband Prof Dr Jan Worst ended up in Groningen. Her husband completed his specialisation in ophthalmology at Groningen University and went on to become a famous ophthalmologist.

Following on from her training, Mrs Worst laid the foundations of what is now known as the GP's laboratory in Groningen. After Prof Worst met the medical instrument maker Klaas Otter and both had developed a multitude of medical instruments for ophthalmology, Mrs Worst helped to set up a medical instrument makers workshop: Medical Workshop. Initially, she was responsible for the organisation, administration and marketing. After the company had grown significantly and had started producing the intraocular lenses developed by Prof Dr Jan Worst, she became Technical Director.

In the early 1980s, Medical Workshop was sold to Pharmacia. In the first instance, Mrs Worst stayed on as Technical Director but the diverging visions on business operations of the Dutch and Swedish management soon became apparent and Mrs Worst and her commercial colleague Ad Haring were dismissed. Later on, Mrs Worst referred to this period as a dramatic period in her life.

Her entrepreneurial spirit and unstoppable drive to make the best of everything meant that she set up OPHTEC in 1983, together with Ad Haring and a group of loyal ex-Pharmacia employees. 
In the early days, they worked from a warehouse at Atoomweg in Groningen, and subsequently from new-built premises at Schweitzerlaan in Groningen. She anticipated the possible growth of OPHTEC by buying much more land than was strictly necessary. This proved to be a farsighted move because over the years the premises have been expanded several times.

To the very end, Mrs Worst never failed to express her admiration for that group of loyal employees who gave up their permanent job and all the security that involves to join her in 1983 in this adventure that was called OPHTEC. It was the basis for the FAMILY BUSINESS that OPHTEC is to this day, characterised by the Focus on Perfection that was championed by Mrs Worst in every area, but also by an eye for human dimensions. 

Under her inspirational leadership, OPHTEC became a company with 79 employees and a global turnover of € 5.8 million by the end of 1999. In the year 2000, her son Erik-Jan took over the leadership and changed her role within OPHTEC that continued to grow steadily. She became Management Consultant and Adviser to the Supervisory Board, whilst the Clinical Affairs Department initially remained her responsibility. In 2004, a major success was achieved following a tense USA FDA panel meeting where Pre Market Approval was obtained for the Artisan Myopia lens, an event attended by Mrs Worst. It brought OPHTEC a great deal of commercial success in the following years.

In 2002, Mrs Worst was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau for her services to developing and manufacturing intraocular lenses.  Mrs Worst's entrepreneurship contributed to OPHTEC being awarded the city of Groningen Entrepreneurial Award in 2000 and the King William I plaque in the Innovative entrepreneurship category in 2001. 

Mrs Worst remained involved in the affairs of OPHTEC up to her old age and could be found in the office on a regular basis. After the death of her husband Prof Dr Jan Worst in September 2015, she took a step back, although she never failed to attend OPHTEC's important social events.  In 2018, she opened the OPHTEC Innovation centre for example.

Mrs Worst remained co-shareholder of OPHTEC Holding and Director/shareholder of the Jan Worst Research Group BV until the very end.

We will miss her enormously.

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