Cathy Burzik,the former CEO of Kinetic Concepts Inc. and one of the most respected leaders in the medical device industry, keeps a plaque on her desk to remind her of the challenge, opportunity and, sometimes, insanity of being a woman in business.
“Women have to work twice as hard as men to be thought of as half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult,” the plaque reads.
Women represent the lion’s share of the healthcare industry: About 78.4% of the labor force is female, according to the Center for American Progress. But women are vastly underrepresented in the decision-making chain, with just 14.6% holding executive officer positions and even fewer maintaining the top jobs in healthcare, according to the think tank.
In fact, not a single woman occupied a corner office at the top 100 medical device companies by the end of last year, according to an analysis of data collected by Medical Design & Outsourcing. The lone entrant on this list, Philips Healthcare CEO Deborah DiSanzo, was ousted in July 2014. (She has since landed at IBM, heading up the tech giant’s Watson Health unit.)
That list doesn’t include Burzik, either; she stepped away from KCI in 2012 after shepherding the wound care company through a $6 billion acquisition.
I asked Burzik a few years back what advice she had for women hoping to follow her lead to the top ranks of industry, and her reply was succinct and informative.
“You have to take the tough assignments, you do have to stick your neck out. You can’t be afraid and you have to be courageous,” she told me. “It’s a choice you make. Do you sit back or do you speak up and take the tough assignments?”
For this issue of Medical Design and Outsourcing, Managing Editor Nic Abraham asked women to tell us about their starts in medtech, where their career paths took them and the challenges they faced along the way.
We also spoke with Aum Cardiovascular founder & CEO Marie Johnson. Interviewed for our DeviceTalks event in September, Johnson told us how she’s turning tragedy into hope for potential victims of sudden cardiac arrest. It’s truly an inspiring story.
We hope you enjoy this issue of Medical Design & Outsourcing, and that you’ll take a moment to let us know how we’re doing. I can be reached at email@example.com.
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