A Room Full of Badass Women: Inaugural Medtech Women at SEMDA Conference Insights

It is with my utmost gratitude that I extend the GCMI team’s thank you to all who participated in last week’s Inaugural Medtech Women at SEMDA Conference.

SEMDA Executive Director Jason Rupp
SEMDA Executive Director Jason Rupp

It takes a village to continue to begin to realize the full development capabilities of the southeast’s medtech ecosystem and you are all a part of it. I would especially like to thank SEMDA Executive Director Jason Rupp, the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (OIE) at the US Department of Commerce and our stellar roster of panelists and speakers. The insights you delivered provided the perfect launching pad for Medtech Women@SEMDA’s vision of serving as a strong advisory network for mentoring and professional development for female professionals and innovators across the medical technology industry in the Southeast. We want to see more women positioned for executive leadership in the industry and involved in the entrepreneurial process.  Diversity and inclusion matters.

Below are just a few of the many highlights from the event. We hope you will stay connected with us via LinkedIn and Twitter so that we might continue to build our community to the advantage of all concerned. Be sure to keep your eye on SEMDA 2017 in Atlanta as well!

Access to Capital for Women in Medtech

  • When [female medtech innovators] get up to talk about themselves, you would think they have had no industry success. We downplay what we do. – Julie Lenzer, Director, Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • I’m in a room of badass women. [Yet] we think too small and don’t ask for enough, which is not ok when speaking to investors. It’s often easier to raise more money with a bigger vision than a small amount with a small vision – J. Lenzer
  • 85% of VC investments in medtech go to 4 states and 25 counties. Georgia is not one. California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas do NOT have a monopoly on good, fundable ideas. – J. Lenzer
  • [How you will be reimbursed] is critical. Is the physician or hospital going to make or lose money? Now innovators must prove and answer that question with quality data. – Tom Callaway, Venture Partner, HealthQuest Capital
  • On diversity of personnel: “Your company needs to reflect your customer base.” – T. Callaway
  • “Do not mistake my collaborative nature for an unwillingness or inability to make a decision.” – J. Lenzer

Concept to Market: Fast Forward Product Development to Address Unmet Needs

  • When examining a new opportunity, prioritize the highest risk questions first. [Then ask], Can I satisfy that ask soon as possible? – Karen Zaderej – President, AxoGen
  • To understand the market need, get a well rounded view of key stakeholders. Beyond the clinicians, innovators must think about the patient and economics. Is it cheaper for the buyer and better for reimburses. – K. Zaderej
  • Realize this will take a lot of your time to move forward. This will be easier if you realize it’s not worth moving forward as early as possible. This will help you gauge whether you should take time away from other things you could be doing or not. – Dr. Rebecca Levit, Emory School of Medicine
  • If your idea is truly transformational, you’re in for a long haul. The development and regulatory pathways are longer and will require more money to get to market. If you answer the risks early, it’s probably worth it. – K. Zaderej
  • If you have transformational technology that needs to go into the clinic, talk to the FDA earlier than you would ever think. – Anna Fallon

Building a Successful Career in the Medtech Industry

  • Build a breadth of experience early on. I served as sales rep, sales manager, quality manager, operating room process manager, then interim CFO. All of those experiences allowed me to build intuition across many areas of the business including regulatory, marketing, operations, quality, commercializations and others that help me connect the dots and solve larger problems. – Lisa Ashby, President, Dental, Carestream Health
  • When I evaluate executives I like to see people with functional diversity and, when in a corporate environment, people who can describe how they developed a career plan and and how they learned from failures. Response to failure is a key element to future success. – Bill Matthews, Partner, Heidrick & Struggles
  • 50% of Georgia Tech biomedical engineering students are female. This is encouraging. Networking within your company is critical to your next position. How do we develop effective internal networks to get accomplished, capable women their next opportunity? That must start with a CEO mandate. – B. Matthews
  • Increase your value to the organization by understanding its inner workings and helping to solve problems for others. – Susan Kushins, Director, Early Technologies, Medtronic

Keynote: Lessons Learned in Medtech: A Leadership Journey – Martha Aronson Goldberg

  • It is far more important to think about who you are working for than what you are working on.
  • Regarding integrity: Solidify your values at an early age.
  • The best leaders are those that can get comfortable with a little bit of letting go. Let your junior colleagues figure out their own way of getting things done. When you see it click for others, it is incredibly exciting.
  • You are exponentiating yourself when leading others. But realize, your way is not the only way.
  • Key leadership themes:
    • People should be leading at all levels of the organization
    • Enable the healthy discussion – and make time to ‘get the whole team there.’
    • Be authentic. It must be exhausting for people to transform who they are on either side of the work / life boundary. Be yourself, but keep the mission of the organization front and center including your work’s impact on other people. Stock price does not motivate a team in the long run, especially for a large organization.
    • Be seen. How disciplined are you about staying in front of your team and your customers?
    • Provide recognition – hand written personal notes have a huge impact.
  • Summary
    • If given an international opportunity, take it.
    • When thinking about mergers and acquisitions, focus on culture
    • Give back along the way.
    • This is a serious business. But don’t take yourself too seriously. Be authentic and have as much fun as you can.

Stay tuned for more Medtech Women@SEMDA news including plans for the SEMDA 2017 flagship conference in Atlanta. And thank you all!

Sincerely,

Tif