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Thomas Meininghaus, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Ottobock | How having a background in general management and operations can change and help your perception as a regulatory affairs professional

Our guest today is Thomas Meininghaus, the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Ottobock.

He is a seasoned manager with a wealth of experience both in regulation as well as management and operations. He joined the MedTech industry back in 2001 having previously worked in management at Procter and Gamble.

Despite not having a background in regulation, he has gone on to be a part of transformation and growth in the regulatory world of MedTech.

Today he joins us to share tips on how his background in operations and management has helped him shape regulation in the MedTech industry over the years. 

The Beginning

When Thomas was approached by a headhunter back in 2000 to work in the MedTech industry, he felt underqualified. It was his assumption that his background in FemCare at Procter and Gamble had misled the recruiters. Despite this worry and feelings of inadequacy, he took on the opportunity and joined Accenture as a consultant in strategy, change, management and after sales. This would mark the beginning of a prolific career in MedTech. As to how he joined regulation, Thomas recalls being offered a role in regulation by a friend and colleague. His colleague assured him that his talents and expertise would come in handy. He took the leap of faith when he was assured of training in regulation.

This leap of faith allowed him to learn a lot of things along the way, some of which he will share with us today.

1

The Big Picture Approach

According to Thomas, management is focused on the big picture. As a manager, he was often required to look at the business as more than a profit-making entity. He understood that the role of the business was to sell benefits. With this in mind, the big picture approach allowed him as a regulatory Vice President to look at the systems as a whole. He is now able to look at regulation as far more than simply a department that seeks to block, but instead as one that seeks to advance the bottom line of the MedTech industry. He has used his experience from management to streamline production and efficiency of devices to clients. 

2

Consumer-centric

As a manager, Thomas spent a lot of time engaging with the team and the consumers. This served to ensure that the medical products produced were of benefit to the customers. He was also tasked with reviewing reports on the after-sale efficacy of products. With years of this experience in mind, Thomas was able to apply this knowledge in regulation. As a regulator, he was constantly looking to streamline the production process, and the management experience made this particular part of regulation easy to maneuver for him. 

His years of experience managing teams and recruiting have served to enable him to easily regulate employee roles. He reports that causal effect also applies in regulation. If there is a glitch, there is almost always a cause. Employees who know their role are a great asset in regulation. Years of experience managing teams has enabled him to streamline employee handbooks and regulation frameworks.

Welcome Stretch Roles

While his path to regulation was far from traditional, it has allowed him to explore the versatility of human ability when given the chance. He states that when it comes to hiring, the right attitude in an interviewee who may not necessarily have all the qualifications makes all the difference. 

Thomas encourages us to never shy away from roles that we may feel ill prepared for. With experience, the right attitude and a thirst for learning, we may end up in some of the best roles yet. He, however, advocates for total commitment to current roles because they serve as the stepping stones to the future.

Best piece of advice ever received?

Never go into an argument with a preformed idea. Always be open to the idea that you may be wrong and may learn something.

His biggest inspiration?

Ordinary people doing their absolute best despite their roles and position.

The legacy he hopes to leave in the world?

That he is remembered as someone who contributed to making things better in the world.

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