Interview with DR Ollech, Sr. Director / Project Manager
[Editor] D.R., tell us about your experience with Varian over the past 14 years.
D.R. Ollech: I was involved in two principal areas: Project Management (PM) and Design & Construction. Early on, I was a Sr. Project Manager in the Eastern quarter of the United States (U.S.) – responsible for the coordination and delivery of Varian’s treatment and software systems to customers. In addition to the delivery, the projects I managed included installations of various linear accelerator models ranging from TrueBeams to Clinac 600C/D’s, as well as treatment software such as VARiS/ARIA and Eclipse. I was also involved with working on BrainLAB Novalis units. Further into my career, I directed the newly-formed Western PM Region, leading a team of seven PMs covering the western half of North America, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Moving forward, I developed and lead Varian’s in-house design & construction management team – Site Solutions. Site Solutions’ mission was to incorporate the existing site planning function with construction management techniques. At Site Solutions, we wanted to provide the best practices and comprehensive Design/Build services to customers who needed to renovate their facility to accommodate a new accelerator. Often, we worked with several sites to expand their facility with an additional vault – or begin their journey into radiation oncology by building a new one. We wanted to communicate to customers that we were intimately knowledgeable with the equipment–by combining design & build services and contractor evaluation upon the purchase of a new linear accelerator.
I was also the primary author and editor of the series Designer Desk References (DDRs) which provided facility planning guidance for the full Varian product line, including the latest in radiation oncology technology – Halcyon. In total, we published approximately 14 editions in as many as 9 languages.
[Editor] You seem to have a lot of great experience in radiation oncology equipment and construction. What advice can you give facilities when deciding on equipment or construction?
D.R. Ollech: The old adage, “there is no substitute for experience”, springs to mind when it comes to the construction of radiation oncology facilities. I’ve seen dozens of cases where very good contractors don’t quite get it right the first, or even second time. It’s not because they don’t provide quality work or they lack attention to detail, but simply because they don’t have the experience. No two projects are ever the same and there is always something new to learn in radiation oncology construction. An experienced contractor can identify and overcome the unique challenges in a project before they become arduous and result in weeks of delay. Minimizing delays is critical when those postponements carry a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per week and can potentially impact a patient’s treatment. So, my advice is simple: work with experienced parties. You may pay a little more on the front end, but you will save so much on the back end. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
[Editor] Why did you join the ROS Team?
D.R. Ollech: ROS really understands the dynamic between equipment installation and vault requirements; and that their customers can get the best value for their capital equipment program through the use of Single Point Responsibility and design/build construction. Moreover, I felt that I would fit well with my background and experience. I previously worked with them during my Varian days, where we enjoyed a good working relationship.
[Editor] We understand that that the Varian data manuals that you wrote are referred to as “DRR’s.” Word on the street is that the acronym is for “Documents by D.R.” Is there any truth to this?
D.R. Ollech: No truth whatsoever. Purely coincidence! But imagine the royalties if they were named after me!