Business Irish

Thursday 24 August 2017

Bronwyn Brophy: If I knew then what I know now…

Bronwyn Brophy
Bronwyn Brophy

Bronwyn Brophy

It has been a fantastic 20-year journey in the medical technology industry, and I've met some truly remarkable people along the way. I've also learnt many valuable lessons, which have ultimately shaped the kind of leader that I have become and have influenced some of my latter career decisions in particular.

One of the earliest lessons was the importance of recruiting people on to your team who are genuinely different to you, with complementary skills, and who can provide you with really diverse perspectives. Ten Bronwyns sitting around a boardroom table is not a good idea - believe me, I know, because in the early years I tried it! My current leadership team is made up of nine different nationalities from three different continents, and I find it so enriching to work with such a diverse group of people.

In the early days, all of my mentors and coaches were white males north of 50 years old. I got lucky and had one or two great people advising and helping me. Nowadays, I am mentored by people with very different profiles; I like to have at least one 'millennial' who can keep me up to date on the latest trends and give me the perspective of a different generation. I also seek out people from different industries, countries and ethnicities to broaden my perspectives and challenge the way I think and look at the world. One thing I know is that you have to be proactive and ask people to mentor you - they will not come knocking on your door.

I have come to realise how much I value professionalism in my working environment. I've been fortunate to work for two of the biggest players in the medical device industry and I thrive in a multinational environment and large corporate structure. I also think if you work in an industry that you are passionate about, it's a lot easier to maintain high energy and enthusiasm levels. There is no doubt in my mind that the medical device industry is where I want to be.

After a bump in the road of my career several years ago, my husband said to me: "Bronwyn, you would prefer to play as a substitute for Real Madrid than to be the captain of Atletico!" It's true, I like to learn from the best.

So what about the glass stiletto -does it exist? It would be disingenuous of me to say I've never encountered gender discrimination because I have, albeit only once. In my experience, it is not about gender. The vast majority of female (and male) leaders want and try to do their best to develop the talent on their teams. I have a personal career goal to one day work for someone who reported to me.

Bronwyn Brophy is vice-president of early technologies, Medtronic EMEA

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