Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why Medtronic of Canada Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2016) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- Medtronic supports new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents with maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 100% for the first 2 weeks followed by a 90% top-up for an additional 15 weeks) and recently introduced a flexible health plan that lets employees tailor coverage to suit their evolving needs as they progress through their careers
- Medtronic encourages employees and their immediate family members to keep fit with free access to a fully-equipped fitness facility that features 20 hours of instructor-led fitness classes each week, from pilates to spinning to weights
- Medtronic also encourages ongoing learning through a variety of in-house training initiatives as well as generous tuition subsidies (to $6,000) for courses taken at outside institutions
Medtronic employees help improve healthcare outcomes
When Morteza Zohrabi moved to Medtronic Canada from the public sector more than two years ago, colleagues and fellow health professionals expressed surprise. A medical doctor and a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt in quality management, Zohrabi had worked at some of the largest hospitals in Canada and for the Ontario government trying to improve the quality of health services while making systems more efficient.
He saw a role for himself at Medtronic thanks to its shift in recent years to become more than a medical device manufacturer and seller. It now also defines itself as a services and solutions company looking to provide better clinical outcomes and economic value in health care in Canada and around the world.
"What I'm doing here at Medtronic, it's not just helping others with efficiency," explains Zohrabi, whose title is Integrated Health Solutions Consultant. "It focuses on improved outcomes, improved access and the right therapy."
At a time when innovative but often expensive new medical devices and therapies test already strained healthcare budgets, Medtronic wants its employees "to become trusted resources, not just people who come in and push a product," says André Guérin, Senior Director of Human Resources. "They understand the context of the customer and act as a resource and partner."
One project that illustrates this approach is Medtronic's collaboration with a Brampton, Ontario hospital that is part of the William Osler Health System. Brampton has one of the highest diabetes rates in the country, and wanted to increase capacity to meet the needs of the growing population and growing demand for diabetes care. As a maker of insulin pumps, Medtronic also has insights into the disease and its management.
Zohrabi worked with clinic staff and managers to try to find solutions, facilitating a five-day workshop. "The collaboration between host and Medtronic was phenomenal," he says. "We worked as a team." As a result of new plans and systems implemented, efficiencies improved by as much as 60 per cent according to one indicator, which was beyond anything Zohrabi had hoped for.
Medtronic aims to show the value of new treatments beyond initial costs. "While devices are sometimes costly," says Guérin, "the impact can save enormous amounts of money to the healthcare system." He cites as an example a new Medtronic heart valve which is inserted in what is called a catheter-type procedure, eliminating the need for open heart surgery.
"It's minimally invasive and the patient may be back home in a few days," says Guérin. Risk of infection is cut as are the high costs of prolonged hospitalization.
As Medtronic grows into its new services and solutions role, it's also continuing to integrate its business with that of Covidien, which it acquired in 2015. The merger nearly doubled its presence in Canada.
In its current and future leaders, the company says, it is looking for employees who are patient centric, problem solvers, borderless collaborators and system thinkers. "These are the types of characteristics necessary to achieve our mission and vision," says Guérin.
The benefits Medtronic employees can expect include a flexible health plan that lets employees tailor their coverage to suit their evolving needs, fully-equipped fitness facilities and a variety of in-house wellness initiatives to encourage healthy and active minds and bodies.
But the biggest reward is the work itself - adding value to the world of healthcare. "I believe I'm helping my colleagues, physicians and nurses, to focus on what they've been trained to do," says Zohrabi.
Medtronic makes doing good a 'win' for everyone
Ever since she joined Medtronic more than 30 years ago, Senior Director Laura Cameron has looked forward to its annual Employee Holiday Program, which takes place every December. She even came in from maternity leave once just so she could attend.
Conceived to celebrate examples of how the work employees do helps to improve the lives of patients and their families around the world, the Holiday Program turns 55 this year. "Nothing can touch hearing from a patient. Typically there's not a dry eye in the house," says Cameron, who heads up the Diabetes Business Group at Medtronic Canada, which develops medical devices and provides services for individuals suffering from chronic illness.
"It gives every single employee - whether they work in an office or out on the road - the chance to see how our products and services make a difference in people's lives."
Sherisse McLaughlin, who started as a Compliance Specialist in Quality & Regulatory Affairs in November 2014, agrees. "In my job I don't see first-hand the benefits of what we do," she says. "The Holiday Program was awesome. It was a great thing for me to see as a new employee."
Both McLaughlin and Cameron are actively involved in Medtronic's philanthropy programs and efforts. The company's "Mission in Motion" aims to get employees involved in the community in ways that match their personal passions, while living out the Medtronic mission. Incentives include generous matching - up to $100,000 per employee annually - and, at certain times of year, doubling of employee charitable donations. It also donates $500 to approved charities where an employee has volunteered for 25 hours.
McLaughlin volunteers as a mentor at the Peel Children's Centre and directed the $500 grant she earned to its sexual abuse project. As a member of the company's Philanthropy Club, she helps organize and coordinate Medtronic employees' charitable initiatives. The idea is to keep fundraising interesting and fun and not let it get overwhelming.
Recent projects range from the annual United Way campaign to a Thanksgiving food drive competition led by McLaughlin's department where all items were donated to the Eden Community Food Bank in Mississauga. Last June, as part of Project 6, an annual volunteerism campaign that takes place during the sixth month of the year to represent the sixth tenet of Medtronic's mission, some 200 employees built more than 80 bikes for kids across Canada. The Brampton office donated theirs to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Peel.
The bike-building groups were organized randomly as an opportunity for employees from different departments to get to know each other. "A lot of people who work in this industry are here because they like to help people," says McLaughlin. "Volunteering is sort of an extension of that."
The philanthropy initiatives are also good for overall Medtronic morale and team building. "They bring employees closer together and make that bond stronger for work as well," says Cameron. "It's a win-win."
Two events dear to her heart are the annual pancake breakfast to help a family in need and the Shoppers Drug Mart "One Walk to Conquer Cancer", which benefits Toronto's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and of which Cameron has been an honorary chair for the past two years. Her family and kids attend the walks with her. Over the past four years, Medtronic walkers have raised almost $100,000 for cancer research.
Cameron says that while Medtronic has always seen being a good corporate citizen as part of the company's mission, the programs have become more formalized over her three decades with the company. "The great thing," she says, "is that Medtronic leaves itself open to the causes of the employees."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Medtronic of Canada Ltd. was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- Medtronic maintains a diversity and inclusion coalition, which monitors the hiring and advancement of female and visible minority employees -- the organization also reviews its diversity and inclusion strategy on an annual basis
- In 2013, Medtronic launched a newcomer mentorship program to help employees who are new Canadians better understand the work culture at the company and in Canada -- Medtronic also partners with ACCES Employment and COSTI to recruit internationally educated professionals and recognizes foreign credentials
Medtronic looks at an applicant's 'total experience'
When Pamela Winsor started working in the health care business back in 1991, she was one of two female sales and marketing representatives in her native Newfoundland. She recalls that her attitude was pretty much "OK, boys, move over." And, they did.
Winsor, who began her working life as an emergency and intensive care nurse before moving into pharmaceuticals, is now Senior Director of Health Policy and Stakeholder Engagement at Medtronic Canada, a medical device company. She is part of a 13-person senior leadership team that is 54 per cent women.
During her time in the working world, Winsor has both seen and been part of major changes. By the time she was recruited to Medtronic in 2004, she was one of about half a dozen women executives. She credits company President Neil Fraser for welcoming and mentoring women.
"He was living diversity way back in 2004," she says. "He was a comfortable leader in his own skin."
Medtronic's women executives are a diverse group career-wise. The head of the diabetes business group used to be director of finance before she made a radical career switch enabled by the company she had worked at for decades. The other female leaders include a lawyer, a PhD, and an executive from Paris who came to Canada via China.
"We have diverse backgrounds and diverse personalities, which is cool because there's a real diversity of thought," says Winsor.
These leaders' skills and knowledge have been especially valued in recent years as Medtronic transforms itself from a medical device manufacturer and seller into a services and solutions company as well. It aims to provide ever better clinical outcomes and economic value in health care as it integrates its business with that of Covidien, which it acquired in 2014. The merger essentially doubled
Medtronic's presence in Canada.
When Yvonne Farquharson, Principal HR Business Partner, joined Medtronic Canada in 2012, she was asked to lead its diversity and inclusion coalition as part of a global mandate. Along with some 10 employees, she worked to execute and evolve the mission and vision for the Canadian organization.
The group did many of the things associated with diversity programs - like celebratory festivals and a highly successful multicultural fair - but there were also other events more directly tied to Medtronic's businesses. For example, a speaker series featured experts on diabetes in the South Asian community as well as ethnicity and peripheral arterial disease.
It has always been Medtronic's intent to tie its diversity and inclusion policies to its core strategy. In its mission and vision statement, it says it wants "to promote and leverage the talents of a diverse workforce to better serve the needs of our employees, customers and communities."
Farquharson remembers Fraser asking her how he could tell the program was working. "It was an excellent question," she says. "We didn't have metrics. It was more the feel-good factor, so we decided to start transitioning the coalition to become more of a strategic tool."
One of the most significant things they've done, she says, is implement a mentorship program for new employees who are also new to Canada. Farquharson, who immigrated to Canada from Jamaica, found it a challenging time. Like other highly qualified professionals she was often asked for "Canadian experience" which she didn't have. She worried about finding a job for which she wasn't being told she was overqualified.
"Medtronic looked at my total experience and not just what I had done in Canada," she says. "They look at the value you bring to the organization which is why we have such low attrition rates."
Along with developing metrics to measure the effects of its diversity and inclusion programs, other current priorities for the coalition are Medtronic's global mandate to have women candidates for all key jobs and an initiative to foster inclusion of LGBT colleagues.