A native Clevelander, Palinchik earned a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Toledo and holds an MBA degree in executive management from Ashland University. She began her career conducting stem cell research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
MDO: What first drew you to medtech? When did you first know you wanted to be in the industry?
Palinchik: I knew at an early age that I had the aptitude for comprehending complex problems in math and science. I was encouraged by a guidance counselor in high school to pursue engineering, but I was not necessarily interested in the more traditional disciplines like mechanical and civil engineering. After researching additional options, I chose the field of biomedical engineering and was captivated by the possibility of using my math and science skills to help people from a medical perspective. Biomedical engineering is such a broad industry, from cancer research to developing artificial organs, to biomechanical implants, pursuing a career in this field felt challenging and exciting.
MDO: What are some of the barriers women face in today’s medtech industry, if any?
Palinchik: It is true that the field of engineering and the medtech space in general have more men than women in the profession, but there are many opportunities out in the market. If one has the skill set and determination, they can overcome challenges and make their mark. Higher level positions and advisory board openings are harder to come by, but when they do, it is critical for qualified women to seek them out and push for them. This not only benefits their own careers but also opens the door for other women to follow in their footsteps. The key is to trust your instincts, surround yourself with talented and supportive professionals, speak up and be ready to take the lead when the opportunity arises.
MDO: Describe your biggest leadership challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
Palinchik: Stemming from my comment above, if an opportunity arises and you are determined and believe you are the right person for it, you must pursue it and overcome any challenges to obtain it. When I felt ready for a leadership position based on merit, knowledge and what I was accomplishing for the company, it did not initially happen. I was told I was wasn’t ready for a leadership role and I should settle for where I was. That lead me to reflect on my abilities, reanalyze what it would take to be successful and question if I had what it takes for the role. In short, I decided not to take no for an answer. I had to be an advocate for myself. I re-planned and prepared to deliver why I was the right person for the position and why I had the skill set and qualities to take on this role, which resulted in me being awarded the opportunity. Since then, I am accountable for the company’s financial health, client satisfaction, employee engagement and strategic planning to continue growing a successful and profitable company. It has been and continues to be one of my greatest accomplishments.
MDO: Talk about your leadership skills. What is the most important lesson you have learned that has guided you in your career?
Palinchik: Lead by example, be hands-on and motivate and empower those around you. Trust and transparency are keys to a healthy work environment. I set high expectations and standards for the betterment of the employees and support them in developing their careers and skill set. I also roll my sleeves up and help any chance I get. I acknowledge and praise the excellent work our team members provide. I also listen and learn from every experience and situation I come across. Having a “what can we learn from this” mindset allows me to analyze our results, make necessary adjustments and give us the best chance to obtain desirable outcomes for the benefit of the company, our clients and our employees.
MDO: In your opinion, what more can be done to promote greater participation of young women in the medtech industry today?
Palinchik: Start developing talent at a young age and get young girls excited about the industry earlier. There are studies showing that if you don’t get a girl interested by eighth grade, the chances of her pursuing a career in STEM drastically decrease, mostly because of the perceived social status of liking math and science. It’s OK to be a girlie-girl and be passionate about math, science and the medical industry. Teachers and counselors need to continue playing a bigger role at an early age, as well as parents and the community. The early-age programs that I’ve come across at my daughter’s kindergarten are a great start. We’ve come a long way since I’ve joined the industry and it’s exciting to have a voice in this movement. It’s incredibly rewarding to have young women reach out to me for mentoring and advice on navigating and succeeding in this industry.
MDO: What career advice would you give to your younger self?
Palinchik: Be assertive, decisive, speak up and be proud of your accomplishments. It’s inevitable that there will be people throughout your career who will put up roadblocks and not offer full support, but keep pursuing your dreams and believe in yourself.
MDO: Why is it important for companies to be more inclusive and have more women in charge?
Palinchik: Women are strong, detail-orientated and motivated to be successful. All these traits lead to increased productivity, innovation and better company performance. Diversity in the workforce demonstrates a forward-thinking and welcoming culture that most young employees are seeking. There needs to be balance at all levels of an organization to build upon the strengths of men and women to create a cohesive environment required to grow and sustain a profitable company. An increasing trend of more women in the medtech and other technical industries is being noticed. Over the past 6 months, more female than male candidates have applied for our open engineering positions and I hired three female engineers in the last four months.