Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

MedTech Roadmap: How to build and maintain your dream team



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What does it take to hire the best possible talent for your medtech startup – and keep them motivated and happy along the way? We asked David Vied, Global Sector Leader for Medical Devices and Diagnostics at Korn Ferry, a globally renowned advisory firm specialising in talent acquisition and management, to shed some light on building the dream team. David also spoke at the recent Medtech Conference in Minneapolis on the challenges of recruiting top talent based on a company’s strategic plan

talent acquisition

‘A company is only as good as its employees,’ is a phrase that cannot be overemphasised in today’s working world. You may have that light bulb moment about an innovative product but if you don’t have the right team to help you bring it to life, it’s just an idea on a piece of paper. Below, David answers some of the most pressing questions startup founders may have on the thorny issue of talent acquisition.

1. Can you tell us a bit about Korn Ferry and what you do for the company?

Korn Ferry is the pre-eminent global people and organisational advisory firm. We help leaders, organisations, and societies succeed by releasing the full power and potential of people. Our nearly 7,000 colleagues deliver services through our Executive Search, Hay Group and Futurestep divisions. My role is over the global medical device and diagnostics practice, which is a subset of our global life sciences practice.

2. Do you help both startups and established companies with talent acquisition? How does your work differ between the two?

We serve the industry as a whole; in fact we view ourselves as device professionals first and foremost. We’ve worked with pre-revenue companies all the way through to the largest global companies in the industry.

Every assignment is different. While there are clearly characteristics that differ broadly between startups and established companies, the reality is that every assignment is tailored to the specific needs of the company and the nature of the role.

3. Who are the core members a medtech startup should always have on board? What skills should each of them possess?

I think of it as ‘core capabilities’ rather than specific positions, because in many cases the founder is the one that initially brings a lot of this together. But in general, you have to have someone who develops a product or offering, someone who develops the marketing and commercially related activities, and someone who keeps an eye on the finances. Obviously, you need someone who can get the product manufactured, validated and approved as well.

The reason that I’m saying this as opposed to naming job titles is that it’s important that everyone in a startup really takes personal ownership for the enterprise. I’ve seen finance and accounting people become more than just the ‘numbers person’ in terms of leadership. I’ve also seen R&D people become the best true sales/marketing spokespeople for a company.

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The most important thing I think that the team should possess is energy, passion and drive to not only do their part, but to help out in the overall mission of market success.

4. Where would you advise startups to look for talent?

David Vied

David Vied

Everywhere. People they know, people they’ve worked with, large and small companies. Talent in our industry is very broad, and there are specific pros and cons to looking at large cap and emerging company talent. It really depends on the specifics of the position, and most importantly what’s anticipated in the future. Obviously from my side I think clients should partner with experts in terms of framing the question, and looking at the market.

5. What are some of the rookie mistakes startups make when building their team and how can these mistakes be overcome?

Assuming that someone’s past track record translates directly to his or her ability today. Success is situational. We encourage clients to look for the links between someone’s track record and what will be required in the future in their specific situation.

6. What are some of your tips for executives to keep their team motivated along the way?

I think from what we’ve seen, transparency, authenticity and communication. There’s an ebb and flow to every individual’s motivation – and similarly this is reflected in an enterprise overall. That’s natural. High performance environments tend to help their teams continually focus, rediscover their mission when needed, and focus on the future. High performing cultures are full of people who have a clear vision of success.

7. Is sharing the same location becoming less of a factor when looking for talent nowadays? Can a medtech company function with its team members based in separate locations?

This is a really pivotal question that calls for an ambiguous answer. It all depends. Everyone I know believes that being together is the best thing. That’s just not possible today. Finding ways for frequent formal – and informal communication is essential. But medtech companies do function well today with multiple locations. The quality and culture of the team are more important than physical proximity.

About the author

Doris has a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism and has previously worked on the editorial desk of Good Housekeeping Magazine UK. She was also a data research associate at DrugDev, an online pharma clinical trials hub based in London.

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