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Benoit Clinchamps – Why communication is so important for leaders

Why communication is so important for leaders

Benoit Clinchamps, President of Microport CRM, attributes a lot of his success as a MedTech leader to his communication skills. Benoit currently presides over the entire MicroPort CRM’s organization and provides leadership in order to establish the company’s goals and strategies. Benoit who has been in the MedTech industry for more than 20 years, started his career in the aerospace industry. By the time he was 29, he was a project manager at Airbus.

After 9 nine years in the aerospace industry, Benoit made his debut in the healthcare industry when he took a role as a 6 Sigma Black Belt at GE Healthcare. Since then he has worked in different MedTech leadership positions at GE Healthcare, Sorin Group and now Microport CRM. Microport CRM is a leader in the healthcare industry that specializes in research, development, manufacturing and marketing medical devices that diagnose, treat and manage heart failure and heart rhythm disorders.

In this episode of Career diaries by Elemed, Benoit and Elena discussed what exactly good communication means, how to make your message heard and acted on in QA/RA, how to keep developing and learning as an executive, and how to switch to a job you have no experience in?

Education

Benoit studied engineering and first put his degree to practice working on helicopter systems. Before his second leadership role in his career as a project manager, he completed a one year course in management to prepare himself for the position.

By the time he was at GE healthcare, he had a Six Sigma Black Belt certificate.
Six Sigma are tools used to promote efficiency in an organization and a Black Belt certificate applies the Six Sigma philosophies to “Demonstrate team leadership, understand team dynamics and assign team member roles and responsibilities.”

How to manage a team that includes members older than you

At the early age of 24, Benoit became a team leader managing 4 technicians under him.
In this role, he identified that management was something he really enjoyed and since then, he has continued to seek out leadership roles.

In his experience to successfully manage a team, you need to:

    • Build a strong team.
    • Communicate effectively
    • provide visibility to all the team members.
      • provide enough details to team members so that they understand what the goals are and what they need to achieve as a team.
      • communicate the challenges and issues.

Key communication skills as a leader

    • Simplicity is important irrespective of who you are communicating with.
    • Keep in mind who your audience is. It will determine how and what you will communicate.
    • Be clear – Even slides need to be simple and easy to understand.
    • Provide the right messages: What do you want to share and what do you want them to have in mind when they are going to leave the room after your communication?
    • Keep it short.

“You cannot be a good manager if you cannot communicate or if you are not communicating appropriately with your team.”

Why he Moved from aerospace to Medtech

In the aerospace industry, Benoit worked on huge projects and managed a lot of people and funds but was frustrated by how execution and progress could be slow because they were tied to the political decisions of some countries.

He wanted to move to an industry where companies were self-funding and made their own decisions. Benoit wasn’t thinking specifically about healthcare but when he was offered a job at GE healthcare, he took it because it matched the criteria he was looking for.

Benoit’s rules of thumb for himself when choosing a new job

    1. A company that deals in high tech because of his engineering background.
    2. Having an international environment.
    3. Continuing to work in a leadership position.

The experience of working at GE healthcare

He joined GE when Jack Welch was the CEO. “It was an amazing experience and it had a fantastic culture.” GE had mastered the ability of being able to align hundreds of thousands of people, internally, in the same direction. “It had a lot of smart, brilliant people and it was an energizing environment.”

What impact did Jack Welch have on you?

According to Harvard Business Review, “Jack Welch was heralded by many as the greatest leader of his era. As CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, he transformed it from a company known for appliances and lightbulbs to a multinational corporation that stretched into financial services and media as well as industrial products.”

Benoit lauds him saying, “He drove the culture, initiatives, objectives and many other things at GE. He had an amazing ability to see the big picture. He was able to manage financial markets, businesses such as medical devices, aircraft engines, very many different things.

He could go deep into methodology, like the Six Sigma methodology, and discuss it with people like myself. He invested a lot internally in training which helped in the ability to deliver and help people.

His way of communication was simple but strong. He was charismatic and was able to deliver tough messages to everybody (hundreds of thousands of employees). When you saw Jack communicating once, you remembered that occasion. It was impressive.”

Leaving GE

Benoit wanted to have a different impact at his workplace and thought he could do so at a company smaller than GE. He took a risk and accepted the challenging role of RA/QA at Sorin, a role that he had never had before.

In his first assignment, Benoit was tasked with making many changes in terms of efficiency, backlog and much more. Having developed change management skills while he was at GE, he applied them in his new role to bring about those changes.

From there, Benoit took several executive positions as VP before becoming the President of Microport CRM.

How to make your message heard by Senior Leadership

    • Always put patient safety first but you also need to think like a business leader handling a crisis management issue; when you present the problem, provide a solution and take the lead to carry out the recovery plan.
    • If you have to stop a manufacturing line or the development of a product or take any strong action because there is a risk that has to be managed, you need to help find a solution.
    • Help the key functional team understand the issue, fix it, recover, and make sure that it won’t reoccur.
    • Assist in improving processes even outside of RA/QA processes.
    • Improve the efficiency of the company: Being in RA/QA, across the board, you are probably the one who knows best all the processes to develop, manufacture and sell a product during a product’s life cycle so you are very capable of helping every department in a company be more efficient.

Take risks and push outside your comfort zone

You need to change, take on different roles in different departments, and work in different companies. For a leader and executive, you need to have experience in taking risk otherwise you will never take risks for the company that you are managing, you will never take risks with the business model that you are working with and you will never try to improve things.
The environment is moving too fast for someone that doesn’t want to take risks.

How to switch to a job you have no experience in?

You need to be confident in yourself to switch to a job that you have no experience in. But even though you may lack experience in the position that you want to move to, there are elements that you have in your current or previous position that you can look for in the new position that you want to take.

Using Benoit’s rules of thumb as an example, even when he switched from the aerospace industry to the MedTech industry, he chose to work at a company with high technology, an international environment and at a leadership level. These were 3 things that he had at his previous workplace.

Biggest career mistakes

When he was in the aerospace industry, he stayed in the position of project manager for 6 years. Even though it was a great experience, he thinks that he should have shortened it once he didn’t feel like there was anything new to learn in that role.

Another mistake he can remember occurred when he was at GE and had to communicate the new methodology of LEAN manufacturing to the unions. He believes that didn’t step back enough to understand and prepare sufficiently.

What is more important - experience or education?

Education is important but at a certain point in time of your career, experience increases in importance. In addition to those 2 factors, being a good fit matters. As a hiring manager, you want someone that you can work with.
You want someone that is not only a good fit with you, but also with the team. Self-motivation is also key. If the candidate has the right level of skills or competencies, but they lack the right energy, maybe they are not the right fit for your team after all.

How to keep developing and learning even as an executive

At his position and level of education, it can get to a point where a person may feel like there aren’t any more courses that will improve their work or further their career.

Benoit continues to develop and learn by meeting leaders from different companies and also different industries. He intentionally chooses to diversify who and how he interacts with people both within his company and outside his company.

The pressure

Benoit advises, “Jobs like mine where patient safety is involved, have a lot of pressure and for such jobs, you need to like your job. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.”
To deal with the pressure, Benoit jogs, takes part in outdoor sports and spends time with his family.

What’s the legacy you want to leave on the world?

“I want to be a role model for the employees and to have credibility.”

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