08
March
2022
|
04:39
Europe/Amsterdam

Women at BIOTRONIK: Four Of Our Most Inspiring Leaders Talk About The Most Important Lessons From Their Careers

As we mark International Women’s Day 2022, we’re mindful of how much further there still is to go to reach equality in cardiology. There are many facets to that task. As we wrote in a recent blog post, women are still underrepresented in cardiology clinical trials—which is why we’re supporting representative clinical trials like BIO-LIBRA and BIOWOMEN to get better sex-specific therapy data. 

But there’s another side to the task—meaningful equality for those working in the cardiology field. For us, that’s a task that starts at home. It’s one of the reasons BIOTRONIK has programs like the BIO-WE, or BIOTRONIK-Women Empowered group, to support mentorship within the company and help women at BIOTRONIK recognize and nurture their leadership talents. 

We spoke to four women in leadership positions at BIOTRONIK offices around the world. They lead BIOTRONIK teams in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Singapore, representing clinical, marketing, and sales teams. They talk about what advice they would give to young women looking to step into leadership positions and what to look for from mentorship. 

 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You always have to trust and believe in yourself, surround yourself with the best, and let yourself be advised. Be ambitious in what those challenges are, even if that means putting in a greater effort and getting out of your comfort zone. 

Paloma Quesada, Clinical Affairs Team Leader for BIOTRONIK Spain

Paloma Quesada is the Clinical Affairs Team Leader for BIOTRONIK Spain. She has been with BIOTRONIK since 2008. 

Paloma Quesada

When and how did you realize you wanted to pursue a career with a more technical focus, like a position at BIOTRONIK? What made you decide on your specific career? 

Before BIOTRONIK, I was working on breast cancer clinical trials. An opportunity came up to work with BIOTRONIK as a clinical monitor and I decided to make the change. In the beginning, everything seemed too technical for me and learning all about our devices was quite challenging. But being able to interact with both the clinical investigators and study teams helped me overcome that gap. That was very different from my time in pharma. Sometimes you don’t have access to the investigators, only to the study teams. It’s also very motivating to see the improvement in the quality of life of our patients once their device is implanted.  

Tell us about your career at BIOTRONIK so far. When did you start, and what attracted you to the company in the beginning? What do you like most about it?  

When I came to BIOTRONIK, the clinical team had just started up in Spain. There were only three people and the clinical team was part of the marketing team. There were many things to do and improve, and my experience working for a pharmaceutical company was very well valued. I saw the possibilities for improvement in my career and personal growth. Now I’m doing Project Management and leading the Clinical Monitors Team, so I’m very grateful for the opportunity.  Over the years, BIOTRONIK has changed a lot when it comes to how clinical trials are being done. The clinical team in Spain has grown and it’s been very rewarding to be a part of that.  I now have the opportunity to be a Project Manager located in Spain, but with part of the team in Berlin. This is certainly a new challenge for me! But thanks to today’s technology and our team, this is possible today. This is what I like most about BIOTRONIK. They trust me and give me chances to grow and improve my career.  

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in science or another technical discipline?  

In general, you always have to trust and believe in yourself, surround yourself with the best, and let yourself be advised. Don’t be afraid of technical issues or asking for support. I also always try to look for the “human part” in everything! When I started working at BIOTORNIK, I was afraid that being a biologist and not an engineer would hamper my progress at a technology company. But I immediately focused on the human part, particularly on how this technology could directly improve patients’ lives and how I could be part of that. Since then, I have never hesitated to ask for help to complete training that I may have missed that helps me do my job better. 

What advice would you have for women who pursue leadership positions? What helped you personally to enhance your career? Did BIOTRONIK support this process? 

I’m very fortunate because my manager has always trusted me, and he always gives me the opportunity to take on new challenges. Again, teamwork is essential. As you hope that others trust you, you have to trust others and delegate so you can take on new challenges. Be ambitious in those challenges, even if that means putting in more  effort and getting out of your comfort zone. We as women have a lot to contribute, and you should never feel that an idea of yours has less value. We should feel okay asking for more opportunities and taking on new challenges throughout our careers. BIOTRONIK has certainly supported this process for me. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Don’t get too hung up on short-term win or lose thinking. Long-term, whether it’s about managing people or making certain decisions, I’ve often learned more from the mistakes that I’ve made than from my successes. 

Elizabeth Wong, Marketing Director for Asia-Pacific

Elizabeth Wong is the Marketing Director for the Asia-Pacific region at BIOTRONIK. She is based in Singapore and has been with BIOTRONIK for seven years. 

Elizabeth Wong

When and how did you realize you wanted to pursue a career with a more technical focus, like a position at BIOTRONIK? What made you decide on your specific career? 

I started as a Sales Representative in Hong Kong for another MedTech company, so I learned the products from the ground up. I gradually had more chances to be present for more complex procedures like first-generation CRT implantations. Eventually my customer discussions became less product-focused and more about overall therapies. That kind of on-the-job learning helped me better understand the bigger overall picture of cardiovascular therapies, and I moved into marketing. Part of what I like about marketing in Asia-Pacific is the challenge of making the very technical more easily understandable. I kept that very much in mind when I launched three generations of drug-eluting stents in seven years. The more you do it, the more you enjoy it—and the better you get at it. That’s certainly something I kept in mind when it came time to hire my own team. 

Tell us about your career at BIOTRONIK so far. When did you start, and what attracted you to the company in the beginning? What do you like most about it?  

I’ve been with BIOTRONIK since July 2015—so almost seven years now. Gunnar Wochnoski, Regional Vice President Asia Pacific, asked me what I was looking for during my job interview, and I remember replying that I wanted to find a workplace that felt like a home—that fostered a sense of belonging at the workplace. I’ve always been interested in cardiovascular topics, but here I get to be part of growing the company and the team by contributing great marketing work.  

What advice would give to young women considering a career in science or another technical discipline?  

I think this advice really goes for everyone. First of all, find something you enjoy doing. If there are parts of the job you don’t understand at first, speak up—also to yourself, by spotting areas where you can improve. Next, if you enjoy doing what you’re doing but still find it challenging, find some support—whether it’s a mentor, advisor, or expert. Lots of people are happy to support a conscientious newcomer. Spend some time looking for that advice, and you will find it. Finally, don’t get too hung up on short-term win or lose thinking. Long-term, whether it’s about managing people or making certain decisions, I’ve often learned more from the mistakes that I’ve made than from my successes. 

What advice would you have for women who pursue leadership positions? What helped you personally to enhance your career? Did BIOTRONIK support this process? 

One of the most common questions I get—also from within BIOTRONIK—is how to project executive presence. My advice is to work on your inner voice first, with help from a more senior mentor. That sometimes involves taking a step back and asking yourself whether you think the feedback you are getting is valid for you or not. Projecting executive presence also isn’t about simply copying someone else either. As long as you come to the same successful result, you might do something a bit differently than another leader would. A manager might tell you, “you have to be more assertive.” The question to yourself should then be, “how can I develop my own authentic assertiveness and confidence?” You don’t need to be assertive in the way your manager might be assertive—or even in exactly the way they might first expect you to be. I found my own executive presence, and I am still learning. It’s different from other managers, and I think that’s something the company has definitely supported, especially through mentorship initiatives.  And my personal advice: Don’t be afraid to reach out! There are more people out there than you think who are happy to mentor and give advice.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

     

BIOTRONIK and the leadership team has supported my successive growth and mentorship. The BIO-WE, BIOTRONIK-Women Empowered group, sponsored by BIOTRONIK, also provided training and an incredibly supportive environment to further enhance my leadership skills. 

Amy Culley, Vice President for Clinical Studies at BIOTRONIK Inc.

Amy Culley is the Vice President for Clinical Studies at BIOTRONIK, Inc., BIOTRONIK’s United States Headquarters in Lake Oswego, Oregon. She has been with BIOTRONIK for 17 years. 

Amy Culley

When and how did you realize you wanted to pursue a career with a more technical focus, like a position at BIOTRONIK? What made you decide on your specific career? 

 I fell into clinical research. I literally had no idea this career even existed until after I was out of college. I was interested in medicine and helping people, but also liked applied science and data. I had access to a mentor in a university pathology lab through a childhood friend. She illuminated my initial path to research and connected me with an opportunity in a university hospital’s clinical lab and my first clinical research position. Subsequently, I worked on pharmaceutical and medical device clinical trials at the site level and in industry. I immediately found a passion in the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself—of being part of the solution for so many clinical questions and challenges. I feel like being a part of clinical research is the best way I can contribute to improving patients’ lives and the choices physicians have in patient care. 

Tell us about your career at BIOTRONIK so far. When did you start, and what attracted you to the company in the beginning? What do you like most about it? 

 I first joined BIOTRONIK in 2000 in the Clinical Engineering department. I loved the idea of expanding my experience in research, working with patients and physicians, and taking the next step in my career to be a part of the bigger picture and make more of an impact. Being part of a team and organization that brings new life-saving products to patients drove my interest. I immediately found BIOTRONIK to feel like a family, and this culture has been successfully sustained as it has grown over the years. Our shared vision to bring incredible technology and quality to patients and physicians is what inspires me every day. I often describe our team as the brightest, most talented individuals that are also incredible humans. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to continue to evolve and expand my experience with successively increased responsibility over the years. My success continues to result from the collective successes and contributions of my colleagues, leadership, and our clinical partners. BIOTRONIK’s emphasis on quality, innovation, and people are aspects that have driven my commitment and desire to be successful in each new role. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with incredible individuals on so many different trials and therapeutic areas, bring new products to market, and build strong relationships within our global family. 

 What advice would you give to young women considering a career in science or another technical discipline? 

Mentors come in many forms, and you need mentors in different stages and aspects of your life and career. We often talk about having “a mentor,” but it’s usually never just one person. Don’t limit yourself to mentors that have your same background or the career you envision. Diversity in your mentors is critical to expanding your experience and developing your career path. How do you know when you have found a good mentor? From my experience, a good mentor is supportive and encouraging, but is also able to challenge your thoughts and your view—even making you uncomfortable at times—because they push you out of your comfort zone. I would like to highlight that as a mentee, you need to take responsibility for having an active role in identifying opportunities and gaps and receiving and incorporating feedback. Surrounding yourself with a diverse talent pool of colleagues, peers, and leaders only serves to enhance your growth, creativity, and experience. It is also important to reciprocate the gift of mentorship and invest your time developing others. Relationships do matter. Technical acumen is important, but honing your soft skills and learning how to be an effective communicator and connect with others is just as crucial.

What advice would you have for women who pursue leadership positions? What helped you personally to enhance your career? Did BIOTRONIK support this process? 

I have been grateful for the champions over the course of my career who have recognized me as a leader. Leadership has many forms, and in STEM careers, one can be a leader—even as an individual contributor. Raising your hand, taking on a project, sharing your ideas and knowledge are great ways to demonstrate leadership. In general, there is not a singular pathway to a leadership role. From my personal experience, taking on new projects or responsibilities that were challenging, complex, cross-functional and cross-cultural helped me to gain confidence and necessary experience. I have learned to amplify my strengths of positivity and responsibility to be hallmarks of my leadership. BIOTRONIK and the leadership team have supported my successive growth and mentorship. The BIO-WE, BIOTRONIK-Women Empowered group, sponsored by BIOTRONIK, also provided training and an incredibly supportive environment to enhance my leadership skills further.  While clinical research tends to be a STEM sector with more women, there’s still an opportunity for increased female leadership. I would encourage anyone interested in clinical research to find out more through special interest clubs, volunteering, professional societies, university-based research programs, and networking. Ask questions and pursue areas of interest early – even in high school. By doing this, you can potentially identify mentors who can help guide you. Recognize that there are different pathways to a leadership role, and your journey is part of what makes you unique and valuable. Successful careers are driven by your interest and passion.  

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I think simply being the person that I am has been an encouragement to getting more women into my field of work. They see me as a being strong but approachable and several women that I have worked with have taken my advice and taken roles in either healthcare or the CRM industry. They are now strong, successful women themselves. 

Heather Brogan, Key Account Manager at BIOTRONIK UK

Heather Brogan is a Key Account Manager at BIOTRONIK UK. She has been with BIOTRONIK since 2009 and was recently awarded BIOTRONIK UK’s “Salesperson of the Year” Award. 

Heather Brogan

When and how did you realize you wanted to pursue a career with a more technical focus, like a position at BIOTRONIK? What made you decide on your specific career? 

Throughout school, I had always wanted to work in the medical arena. I spent a fair bit of time in the hospital as a child and was inspired by the staff’s care and commitment. My Biology teacher encouraged me to follow my dreams, and I secured a position as a Student Cardiac Physiologist at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham at the age of 18. In addition to caring for patients, I was helping clinicians with their diagnoses, which gave me a lot of pride. I remember us caring for the first ICD patient in Nottinghamshire. I found the technology awe-inspiring and was certain this was the path I wanted to follow. Having been encouraged by my mentor, I became the hospital lead for Cardiac Devices before joining the CRM industry in 2006. I would not be where I am today if it was not for her.  

Tell us about your career at BIOTRONIK so far. When did you start and what attracted you to the company in the beginning? What do you like most about it?  

I was recruited from another MedTech company in 2009, right around when BIOTRONIK’s Evia family of devices was launched. As a physiologist in the NHS, I had previously used Cylos DR-T devices for CLS, so this new device was a big pull for me. It was amazing technology in a smaller device, producing excellent results for patients. What I like most about BIOTRONIK is that we have continued to produce industry-leading products, but the patient is still at the heart of everything we do. BIOTRONIK is at the forefront of technology and we have an amazing team. It means that whatever we do, we do well!  

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in science or another technical discipline?  

If you have a passion for science, health, or technology, then follow your heart and do not doubt yourself—I am proof that you can do it! Leaving the UK’s National Health Service to join industry was a very big step for me. But over the years, I have realized that it was the best decision I could have made, so never doubt what you are capable of and be resilient in pursuing what you want. Saving lives every day is something to be so proud of, and I am honored to be a part of that.

What advice would you have for women who pursue leadership positions? What helped you personally to enhance your career? Did BIOTRONIK support this process? 

The support that my mentor gave me in my early days of being a Cardiac Physiologist really helped me grow, so use the support network around you. As well as being the Lead for Cardiac Devices in the NHS, I was the Deputy Manager of the Cardiology Department. Both roles taught me to be strong and gave me confidence in my abilities, so don’t be afraid to take on new challenges that might push you. I think simply being the person that I am has been an encouragement to get more women into my field of work. They see me as being strong but approachable, and several women I have worked with have taken my advice and taken roles in either healthcare or the CRM industry. They are now strong, successful women themselves.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you’re interested in learning more about how we at BIOTRONIK make a difference, check out more stories on the corporate blog.  Or have a look at our career opportunities here.