An exec makes her way to the top and is remaking the view
Affiliation: GE Ventures, healthymagination
Sue Siegel wields a lot of influence. She leads not one but two venture groups for one of the biggest med tech players on the planet--GE ($GE). Siegel was also appointed earlier this year as one of only a couple of dozen members of an NIH working group to guide President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative.
The list just goes on from there. She's on the innovation advisory boards of the Cleveland Clinic and the University of California, as well the board of the National Venture Capital Association. Siegel is a President's Circle member of the National Academies of Science. All that highlights only a few of her most prestigious titles.
Siegel really first made her name as president of Affymetrix ($AFFX), where she guided the young company through chaotic years starting in 1998 through 2006. She shepherded it not only through the billion-dollar bubble days but also through their bursting and back onto more solid footing.
After that she was a partner for about 5 years at Mohr Davidow Ventures, where she led personalized medicine, digital health and life sciences investments. But then in 2012, GE snapped her up to head its healthymagination--an initiative the conglomerate started in 2009 with a $3 billion commitment to improve healthcare costs, access and quality around the globe.
Shortly thereafter in 2013, Siegel also nabbed the spot as CEO of its GE Ventures, which invests not only in healthcare startups but also in software and analytics as well as energy and advanced manufacturing.
Now she may be in exactly the right place at the right time. Last year, GE selected new President and CEO John Flannery, the former business development head who is putting an emphasis on partnering to reinvigorate innovation. Healthcare revenues have been largely flat for years at the conglomerate, and Flannery is in the midst of restructuring the company to improve upon that.
"More and more you are seeing that it's about collaboration and partnership to bring technology solutions to the market," Siegel told FierceMedicalDevices via email. "But most interesting to me is that with all things becoming digital, mobile, and cloud."
"The types of partnerships being created to bring solutions to the market are nontraditional, such as partnerships amongst competitors, creating competition, where frenemies are the partners to bring a technology with the right business model to market," she said. "Exciting times of disruption!"
When it comes to her management style, Siegel emphasizes encouraging her team to set both measurable and stretch goals as well as really taking risks beyond what they thought they could do. She discourages side talk that undermines team members in favor of emphasizing direct communication. And she asks that team members give each other and those around them the benefit of the doubt--assuming noble intentions can make the team more open and responsive to new ideas.
All this goes toward boosting individual performance and morale--but it also provides the basis for a solid, productive work environment. "If team members don't respect decisions, things take longer to get done and team spirit suffers."
Ultimately, she advises women aiming for that corner office in life sciences to cultivate skills and aspects including leadership, curiosity, the ability to deal with ambiguity, the ability to synthesize and a love of science.
"When you are just starting out, actively seek out those who can help you grow and provide perspective on different career options," said Siegel. "Later in your career, surround yourself with the best people to create value together, while you have fun. Finally, external focus is key! Be connected with the various players in the ecosystem. External connectivity will help you see around corners."
-- Stacy Lawrence (email | Twitter)
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