Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Growth versus growth

I was in a meeting where the CEO was giving a talk about my particular division's growth relative to the rest of the company. When the CEO comes in, it's a big deal. He wears his $50,000 suit and leads one of the largest medical device companies in the world, and he's a ruthless businessman. He showed a plot like the one I have here (the left one), and a junior engineer from a different internal group than mine asked, "How many saved lives is that?".  He had no clue. Luckily, the president of my division knew that approximate figure. The CEO looked peeved that he was asked that.

I'd say ~90% of the people in my field I've talked to, and 100% of those in my group, got into this business to help people. The CEO was definitely in the 10%.  I have given presentations talking about growth and potential markets and I never once have put a dollar figure in because I only care about the people.  That's the only thing I talk about when interviewing people because it's the most important thing.  The only dollar figure I care about at all is the cost of my devices. If the device isn't cheap enough, even given 99% efficacy, no one will be able to afford it to cure their ailments. 

I understand that someone has to talk numbers, because without my $millions/year operating budget I wouldn't be saving ANY lives (well....maybe a few). But we should be happy that we're beating out our competition for lives saved, not that we made more money, but because we know our products are superior and our growth means even more patients saved by our products.  I understand money will also be a part of my academic future (I'm only kind of naive), but there's still the greater good...right?

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