Kristin Backus has been in manufacturing for 16 years. She began as a shipping and receiving clerk at a special process facility and worked her way up to Quality Manager. From there, Kristin took on a role that was more production focused in a CNC machine shop. Last year, she joined the team at Hobson & Motzer in an Account Management position–that she “absolutely loves.” She received her B.S. in psychology, summa cum laude, as an adult learner just last year from Post University.
What first drew you to medtech? When did you first know you wanted to be in the industry?
Prior to working at Hobson & Motzer, my experience was centered in the aerospace world. I’ve learned there are many similarities between the industries from a production perspective. The same types of machines are used, and many of the same standards and regulations apply to the production of both products. Personally, the difference I’ve noticed is that it feels great to be a part of something that truly helps save lives every single day. Going home at the end of the day knowing you helped get lifesaving products into doctors’ hands is something I take pride in. I really didn’t know I wanted to be in this industry until I got here, and I am so grateful to be a part of it.
What are some of the barriers women face in today’s medtech industry?
Throughout my career, I haven’t felt that I’ve faced barriers because I am a woman. I imagine I may be in the minority of women that feel this way, but I think an individual’s drive is what will lead them to be successful, regardless of gender. For example, I advanced from a shipping clerk to quality manager in a multimillion-dollar company in under five years when I was just 28 years old. While I was only the second female in 74 years to hold the position, I believe I was given the opportunity because they saw my drive and determination. Fast forward to now … my experience working at Hobson & Motzer has been fantastic and includes complete inclusion and equality. I feel that same respect, equality, and inclusion when working with our customers.
Why is it important for companies to be more inclusive and have more women in charge?
Diversity within a company is so important. Many new ideas are brought to the table from people with different backgrounds and views. A company will not be successful, and progress cannot be made with like-minded people being the only ones making decisions. Women have experiences through their lives that are different from men, and different perspectives should be embraced.
What projects, past or present, have made you love what you do?
Being part of a team has always been important to me. As a quality manager, I enjoyed group projects that would ultimately lead to an improved process — and improved processes generally lead to improved products, which is always the end goal. Whether the parts you are working on are used in airplane engines or during surgeries, it is very satisfying to feel like you’ve made a difference.
What projects are you most looking forward to?
I most look forward to projects that others may not think are possible. Making the impossible possible can be challenging, but it can also be very exciting and rewarding!
Describe your biggest leadership challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
I used to be the supervisor of a very young group of assembly workers. It was difficult to get them to work as a team, as they all had very different personalities. Once I realized that the only thing they had in common was they were all motivated differently, it was much easier to get them to work together to achieve the stated goals. Some valued time off with their family, while others valued overtime. Some just wanted to hear “thank you” at the end of the day. My psychology degree continues to prove useful even in a career driven by math and science!
Talk about your leadership skills. What is the most important lesson you have learned that has guided you in your career?
The most important skill a good leader needs to have is the ability to portray expectations and observations with clarity to their team. If the expectations of your team are not clear to them, you cannot expect the results you desire. A well-lead team knows exactly what is expected of them and can proceed with the proper guidance and confidence to get the job done.
In your opinion, what more can be done to promote the greater participation of young women in the medtech industry today?
Exposure is probably the number one factor that will promote participation of young women in a career in the medtech industry. As a society, we’ve made leaps and bounds recently by making STEM classes a requirement for high school graduation. Even still, I feel more can be done. My son is a senior in high school and I’ve noticed that through all four years, female participation in math- and science-based classes is lacking. Any other classes than those needed to fulfill graduation requirements are not taken. More needs to be done to encourage enrollment in such classes so that young girls get proper exposure to the many career options available to them.