Next to take our Consultant Spotlight hot seat is Ivo Dolezal. With over 17 years` experience in MedTech, Ivo shares his career journey to date – from a small company in the Czech Republic to a leading pharma firm in Basel, with a few scenic stop-offs in a camper van in between…
How did you come to work in medical?
I consider myself a technical person. I enjoy developing an understanding of how things work. After studying Mechanical Engineering, I was looking for a technical position. I had two interviews; one at a nuclear power station, and one for a small local company in the Czech Republic that manufactured medical devices as well as stationery and children`s toys. I have always liked a challenge, so when the Managing Director of the latter gave me a choice of three roles, I chose the multifunctional option that gave me the opportunity to manage a small joint venture with Phillips Medisize, manufacturing disposable medical devices. At 24 years old I was handling production management, planning and implementation – and learning a whole lot along the way!
A big part of my professional life is connected to Phillips Medisize. After four years working with them at the Czech company, I was offered the opportunity to become a project manager at the Medisize office in the Netherlands. That`s where I spent 11 years managing teams that focussed on implementation, with a short time spent in Ireland.
Did working abroad influence your outlook?
Working abroad is of huge value. I like challenges, that`s why I chose my first role, and it`s why I moved abroad. It`s easy to sit on one chair – but for me life is about broadening your perspective whenever possible. Working abroad put me outside of my comfort zone, meaning that I learnt and grew professionally much faster by being exposed to different cultures and customs.
The MedTech industry offers the opportunity to work within international teams – and no matter which country I`ve worked in, I have always found this to be the case. Working with a variety of different cultures has influenced how I like to work. I find the Dutch culture for example, very open and straight forward. It`s often said that it can be difficult to be a boss in the Netherlands because you are constantly challenged. Though I think that`s a good thing – if a boss welcomes informed opinions, you can create a culture of openness that nurtures great ideas.
I have to say that I really enjoy working with people from Scandinavia too – their focus on team consensus is something I try to apply to my day to-day work in terms of information flow and feedback. This kind of collaborative approach is conducive to achieving a broader perspective.
How do you stay motivated?
After 15 years in the business, I had learnt a lot – spending four years on Operations, managing projects for 11 years and holding a Quality role for two and a half years. With this experience gained, it was time for something different.
Our two children were both still young at the time – my son was four and my daughter was one. My role in the Netherlands had involved a difficult project, and whilst the work was rewarding, it had become quite consuming. Getting home late and seeing my children for a few minutes before bedtime had become an unwanted habit, and I came to realise that I needed to make a change. The time was right for some rest, and with our children still at pre-school ages, we had a chance for a family adventure.
We love to be amongst nature, exploring the countryside and climbing in the mountains. So we bought a camper van and went travelling for two years in Corsica, Scandinavia, Spain and Portugal. The motivation was to enjoy the early years of our children, taking an opportunity as it presented itself to connect as a family.
When I am on holiday, I am on holiday. When I`m at work, I`m at work. I like to concentrate on the experience at hand and be focussed on the moment. But there are definitely parallels between home life and work life for me. For example, I was still very much a project manager during our van trip – to be on the move for two years exploring news places takes a lot of planning! And when it comes to our family mountain walks – we often take our children on hikes that even some adults wouldn`t attempt. It`s not about danger seeking, but about encouraging our children to explore new ground, be challenged, and to go beyond our comfort zones. After the two-year trip, feeling refreshed, revived, and re-motivated, I was actually looking forward to going back to work! Even now, two years on since our adventure, I still feel the professional benefits of having the short career break. It gave me a huge energy boost that still keeps me motivated each day at the office.
Why the role at Congenius?
Upon return from our holiday, we decided to move to Switzerland as a family. My son was due to start school and we knew that schooling in Switzerland would provide an excellent opportunity for learning languages.
After heading up the Swiss Quality team at Medisize, I connected with Jörg when the Swiss office closed last May. Though I initially disregarded the opportunity, I`m glad the head-hunter convinced me to meet Jörg. We clicked immediately – Jörg is likeable because he inspires trust. I am now very happy to be working within a Process Engineering role, further broadening my expertise.
Who or what are you inspired by?
I don`t have one idol. Generally, I value people for who they are and how they act. I was lucky to have managers who nurtured and mentored my development – they inspired me. My colleagues also inspire me day-to-day. I believe that there are two groups of people: people who have a “can-do” attitude, and people who always have a reason for why something can`t be done. I am inspired by the first group – you can achieve great things with people who think proactively, learn quickly and adapt when required.
I am also inspired by my children. Ever since my son was born, he has loved trains. Having enjoyed model railways as a child myself, we now share this hobby. I find the quality time I spend with him building something together both creative and rewarding.
What kind of impact do you want to make on the MedTech industry?
Working in the MedTech industry is absolutely about more than money. I work in medical because I need a sense of purpose in what I`m doing. To be useful. To be part of a team. To solve problems. To help customers. For me it`s logical work, and I like the feeling that I can do something good with my profession.
A particular highlight for me was project managing a complex project thwart with issues regarding missing personnel and missing experience. Despite these problems, we pulled together as a team to fill the knowledge gaps and overcome the challenges, to deliver the project on time and on budget – resulting in a happy customer. I built my self-confidence on this project.
My goal is to build a varied set of expertise in medical devices across Quality, Operations and Project Management. I want to continue to develop a knowledge base that`s formed with well-rounded perspective. If I can continue to learn and be challenged in new medical device areas, I`ll be happy.
When it comes to retirement and I look back on what I`ve achieved, I really just want to know that I`ve done my job properly, be proud of the work I`ve completed and have my colleagues and customers be pleased with what we`ve achieved together.