In this episode, roles were reversed and our founder, Elena Kyria, switched seats to finally share her journey in the medtech space. Michelle Lott, founder of Lean RAQA, and a previous guest on this show, hosted this episode and facilitated a conversation packed with a lot of valuable nuggets.
Elena is an Executive Headhunter and an award winning talent acquisition specialist in the medical device and IVD market. She’s also the MDR/IVDR LinkedIn Community Leader and one of the top 10% of LinkedIn Recruiters. She’s been Head of Marketing at RAPS Switzerland since 2017
Besides discovering that Elena has a knack for balloon modelling, this is one of the best episodes to listen to if you want to take the plunge into founding your own startup.
Language as a Gateway to Becoming a Medtech Recruiter
Having started off her career in RA/QA for a recruitment company and recruiting for medical devices for 9 years, you would not be faulted for thinking that Elena has a background in engineering. She doesn’t. Elena studied Modern Languages and Linguistics for her undergraduate.
“I had a love for different cultures, and you can probably tell I just love speaking to people.”
She chose to study French and Spanish and her course gave her the chance to meet different cultures and interact with people all over the world. She even got to study abroad for a year.
Being able to speak multiple languages also landed Elena her first job because the company that recruited her was working in the European market and wanted someone who could speak the multiple European languages.
Founding Her Own Startup - the Birth of Elemed
Just like Michelle, for Elena, starting her own company wasn’t a matter of if but when. Fortune favored her and the first company she joined gave her the golden experience of starting a market from the ground up, key for when she would have to do the same for her own company.
The company wanted to branch into Europe and had no clients, no candidates and no brand in the region she was assigned to.
She rolled up her sleeves and built a team and client base.
As she was growing the company, Elena had ideas around marketing and content, adding more value to the candidate network, adding more value to their clients, and having the business less focused on the standard numbers.
She wanted to go beyond just sending CVs and offer an integrated service to candidates and clients but with time, she felt like her vision and that of the company wasn’t aligned.
“I remember having a conversation with my parents, especially my dad – and marching into their room after probably going out for a drink after work and saying, ‘That’s it, I’m done.
I’m going to start my own business.’ My dad was literally like, ‘Are you crazy?’ He always plays it a little bit more on the safe side. ‘Why would you do that? It’s got so much risk.’ But, my mum is always pushing me as well. So it’s a good balance
She was like, ‘If you think you can do it, do it,’ and so I just took the plunge and never looked back.”
A Key Question That Aids in the Decision Making Process
A question that Elena asks her candidates to help them make decisions such as deciding between taking a job or not is, “What would I regret more?”
An example of how to employ this question is to picture yourself five years from now and in your new job and then also imagine yourself having stayed at your current job and figure out which one you would regret more.
“For me, when faced with the question, I knew that I would regret not doing it. I knew that I would regret doing another five years in a corporate environment that was quite comfortable. I was performing really well within the business but I knew that it wasn’t everything that I could give. I’m kind of an all or nothing kind of person, so it was a no brainer in the end.”
Using the Personality Insights to help people play to their strengths
The Social Styles Model helps you understand people and how to interact with them and the best positions to place each personality type at work. There are 4 personality types; the Driver, Amiable, Analytical and Expressive.
Drivers are very active and dynamic and push things forward. Amiable personalities are what they sound like; they get along with many and are calm, patient and level-headed. The Analytical personality type tends to be introverted, good at reviewing data, focused and has a high concentration span. The Expressive type are social, relationship oriented people’s people.
Elemed has been using these personality insights to identify whether they have the right people in the right roles.
They’ve adopted this for the interviewing process. “It’s not the key decision-making factor, but it helps you have a better conversation during the interview stage. The secret to recruitment is putting the right people in the right roles. If you have the right people in your business but in the wrong roles, they still won’t be successful”.
If you have too many drivers, everybody’s directing, but there’s nobody actually implementing.
But equally, if you have too many Analytical personalities and nobody to drive, nothing gets done and people get stuck in the details . Everybody spends time reviewing everything and nobody makes a decision.”
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate!
One area where startup founders flounder is delegating. As a founder, if you are not able to delegate then you restrict the growth of the company and you stay stuck running around in circles doing tasks that you could have hired someone to do as you focus on your strengths and activities that drive the business forward and generate revenue.
When Elena reached a point where she was frustrated that Elemed wasn’t growing as fast as she would have liked, she was advised to write a list of everything she did over the course of a week.
For a week, she listed everything that she did for the business then she identified what revenue generating activities she should focus on as CEO of Elemed – such as speaking with clients, speaking with candidates, making matches, working on projects – and what she could hire someone else to do like email alerts and working on spreadsheets.
“That for me was a game changer, because then I said, I actually only need to be doing 20% of this list and I need to be doing that 20% a hundred percent of the time.
And so at that point, I made the decision to hire on a support staff and then very quickly it grew. So then we took the concrete decision to say, “Okay, what am I looking to build? What’s the structure going to look like? What skill sets do we then need and really hone in and go out and recruit with intent?”
Add Your Heading Text Here Launching a Mentorship Program with RAPS
Elena has wanted to launch a mentorship program for a long time but never found the time to get it going. When Covid disrupted the world, Elemed saw recruiting slow down.
The team had a meeting to discuss what they could do outside of recruiting and came up with ideas such as launching a mentorship program that would add value to people besides connecting candidates to clients.
Another area that Elemed chose to focus on during covid was by offering soft skills training. “A lot of the time, hiring managers have recruited people not because of the technical knowledge, but because of their personality, their approach, their behavior or their soft skills.
The mentorship program includes meeting training sessions in eight different areas after which they chat with their mentors to discuss what they’ve learnt and update them on what they’ve implemented. The mentors provide support and guidance to help the mentees accelerate their growth.
The mentees also provide a support system amongst themselves. They’re divided into groups and share their challenges, success, advice and encouragement. The program is intense, running over a period of seven months to fast-track the growth that you would typically see over years.
RAPS loved the idea and have supported the program. They’re going to be delivering a couple of the training modules too!
“80% of the medtech market are small to medium-sized businesses.
We have people who are the only regulatory quality person in their business and until then, they literally have nobody to bounce ideas off of or to ask how to approach certain things.
Having that person who’s been there, done that is important. I believe that that’s generally important no matter what you do. Even if you’re the CEO of your own company, you still need somebody to bounce ideas with otherwise you very quickly can go down a rabbit hole and get blinkered.
I’m loving being part of this and seeing all the responses and positivity that’s come out of it.”
Sign up for Elemed mentoring academy here