My secrets for recruiting a great team


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At Fractyl we’re building an amazing team – the best I’ve ever worked with. Our team is super smart, highly productive, and absolutely dedicated to our mission. We see the big picture but we aren’t afraid to sweat the details.  We also know how to have fun.

Great teams start with great recruiting. Recruiting best practices are important, but not enough. Read on to learn how we’ve built best team in medical devices.

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Medical Device Startups: Extraordinary Outcomes, Extraordinary Effort

Deserve victory

My blog has gone pretty quiet for the last couple of months – an effect of the pace of a high-performance startup. After all, extraordinary achievement requires extraordinary effort.

We start new medical device companies to achieve extraordinary outcomes:

For patients, dramatic improvements in mortality, morbidity and quality-of-life.

For physicians, new and better options for patient care.

For providers and payers, meaningful reductions in the cost of care.

For our investors, healthy returns on investment.

For our families, providing for our future.

For ourselves, the exhilarating experience of extraordinary achievement.

And it truly is exhilarating. Continue reading “Medical Device Startups: Extraordinary Outcomes, Extraordinary Effort”

Star Medical Device Engineer – Attitude

Engineering Department employees, 1962
Engineering Department employees, 1962 (Photo credit: Seattle Municipal Archives)

One of the best parts of starting a medical device company is the opportunity to build a great team. At Fractyl, I’m happy and proud to say that our team is truly awesome – talented, hardworking, committed, and fun. Putting together a great team is not easy – for every position, we’re always looking for a superstar. Somehow we’ve found them.

One of my best friends runs an engineering group at a major contract research lab, and we occasionally commiserate about the difficulty of hiring great engineers. Of course, number one on our list is technical expertise. Don’t knock on my door if you don’t have the technical chops. While technical competence is hard enough to find, my friend and I are both looking for more than mere technical brilliance. The number two attribute on my list of star medical device engineers is attitude.

In an effort to improve performance, my friend gives each of his engineering hires an article from 1999’s IEEE Spectrum: “How to be a Star Engineer” (or here).  It’s a great article that would benefit almost every engineer. The author, Robert Kelley, presents nine strategies that lead to better engineering performance. Attitude is critical.

Here’s the attitude I’m looking for:

Continue reading “Star Medical Device Engineer – Attitude”

Reference Checking Your Prospective New Boss

Who's the Boss?
Who’s the Boss? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Medical device employment and compensation have been frequent topics of mine over the past couple of years (see list below). It’s an important theme.

Today I’d like to talk about reference checking your prospective new boss. As a senior executive in the industry, I’ve hired many people for my companies – some more than once. As part of the hiring process, I always try to find colleagues in my network to provide references on the prospective hire. My goal is to build an outstanding team, and mistakes are costly.  While I always ask candidates to provide references, I also like to check with colleagues not on that list.

Turnabout is fair play. Yet I’ve never had a prospective employee ask me for references. Why not? I’m happy to provide them.

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Why You Should Join a Medical Device Startup

Start Me UpI recently co-founded a medical device startup, and I’m loving every minute.

Two years ago, as COO of Candela (one of Massachusetts’ largest medical device companies), I had one of best jobs in the industry. When we merged with Syneron, I was in a great position to move to a senior role at another big company. Instead, I was determined to join a startup. I know lots of big company execs who can’t envision joining a startup, and lots of big company engineers who feel the same way. The medical device industry doesn’t have the same sexy startup culture as the software industry, where two or three coders can get together and start the next cloud-based phone service, social network, mobile photo-sharing app , or cloud-based note-taking tool. In Massachusetts, only a handful of new medical device startups get VC funded each year (see prior post).

Yet I was determined to go early-stage. Very early stage. Not only is a startup absolutely the right path for me, it’s probably the right path for you. I can’t believe that everyone doesn’t want to work in a startup. Here’s why.

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The lean medical device startup compensation policy

Part of the funding for the Spirit of St. Loui...
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A great coder with a great idea can start an amazing web 2.0 business. In the web startup world, college dropouts create billion dollar businesses by their mid-20’s. In the medical device industry though, experience counts. You’ll need a VP Regulatory Affairs that has several FDA approvals in the last 10 years. Your head of product development should have driven several products successfully to market. Your head of marketing should be a creative product launch veteran. I hope your manufacturing team has built many medical device products before.

Ramen profitable” doesn’t work for medical device companies.  Medical device companies need experienced talent. Experienced talent deserves fair compensation.

What’s the right compensation policy?

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Finding Your First (or Next) Medical Device Position

It’s March, so if you’re graduating soon you should be well into your job search. When asked for advice, I always give the same response to job seekers. Few of them take my advice, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying. This post isn’t intended to be a comprehensive guide to finding a job, and it really isn’t that specific to medical devices. It’s just one person’s view.

I am surprised that so many candidates expect to get in the door of a company by flinging a resume at an HR department. As a hiring manager I dread poring through piles of resumes, the vast majority of which aren’t even close.

Getting someone to hire you is like getting someone to buy a product. An employee is a big investment, and employment decisions are not taken lightly. As a job seeker, you are the both the product and the sales rep. The hiring company is the prospective buyer. In sales, you identify suspects, qualify them into prospects, then sell the prospects on the unique value of your product. Imagine a sales rep trying to close a sale by flinging a brochure at the purchasing department. How is that different from flinging a resume at HR?

I advise job seekers to think like a sales rep. Here are some specifics.

Continue reading “Finding Your First (or Next) Medical Device Position”