Career Diaries by Elemed is back with a bang! What better guest to feature than the man, the myth, the legend himself – Steve Lee. In some circles he’s known as Mr. IVD, and there’s a good reason for that. He’s worked with IVDs for over 30 years and has had a fascinating career path – mixing lab experience, leading an IVD working group in Brussels, and important work with the MHRA – before ending up in his current position as Director of Diagnostics at ABHI.
Steve sat down to chat with Elena in the 22nd episode of Career Diaries by Elemed, titled ‘Developing skills in the last place you’d expect’. There are plenty of interesting, inspiring and funny moments, so make sure to give it a listen! Here are some of Steve’s most powerful learnings:
🏥 Inspiration from the healthcare system and a desire to make a positive impact
Everyone has their own story about how they got into medical devices/IVDs. For Steve, his interest in healthcare and science was sparked at a young age. A self-described ‘science geek’ as a child, he was personally impacted by friends and family being ill.
After witnessing them being helped by the healthcare system, he was inspired by how healthcare and science can change people’s lives for the better. Motivated by a desire to have purpose in his own work and leave a positive impact, Steve started his journey into IVDs by working in hospitals after graduating university.
🥼 The value of having clinical and lab experience
There are multiple pathways into IVDs, but one route that can really help to inspire future work is by having that important, hands-on industry experience prior to moving to the regulatory side. This is true for Steve, who recounts a great story of witnessing a delicate heart valve operation in person in the early days of his career.
Seeing this clinical aspect up close, in the words of Steve “really helps us understand why we do what we do”. When moving into the regulatory side, understanding first-hand the positive impact and monumental acts that happen at a clinical level can really help to draw inspiration from and gain a different perspective on the work.
🤗 Surround yourself with supportive people
Steve was asked what made him stay at MHRA for so long. His answer: Every day was a school day, he was always learning something new, and being surrounded by talented people was really important. This experience set him up for being chair of the IVD working group, which Steve said was challenging but immensely rewarding. He felt unprepared when thrust into the role, and admitted to making mistakes in the beginning.
But the key thing was that everyone around him was really supportive, so he was able to make mistakes and grow into the role. Steve said that it’s fine to get imposter syndrome when starting a new, challenging role – anyone can become high performing as long as they have the freedom to grow into the role and the support to learn from mistakes.
💪 Find your drive from unlikely places
Something that stands out in Steve’s career history isn’t related to IVDs or healthcare. It was when he decided to become a board member at an inner-city London school. Why? Steve wanted to have influence internationally, which he achieved as chair of the IVD working group in Brussels; he wanted to have influence nationally, which he achieved by leading important projects at MHRA; and now he wanted to have influence locally.
Ultimately Steve wanted to use his skills for a good cause, and this has been a main driver in his professional life. He chaired the school board for a few years, the outcome? It went from OFSTED ‘satisfactory’ to OFSTED ‘good’ (the UK department for inspecting schools). What’s more? Several parents that were also members of the board during Steve’s tenure and not in employment at the time were able to find jobs as a direct result of the experience gained from being on the board. Overall a great job done!
🎙️ Listen to the full podcast
These are just some of the standout moments from Steve’s Career Diaries by Elemed episode. If you want to get all of the juicy details, and find out about the figures that have inspired Steve and more, make sure to listen to the full podcast.