John Groetelaars learned to work with his hands on his family’s vegetable farm, but he realized early that he was more interested in using those hands to build motorcycles and mechanical devices.
He followed his inclination first by helping manufacture engines and axles after earning his engineering degree through the GM Institute; he later transferred to the GM’s Chevy Lumina factory. The auto industry was very resistant to change, but John early on recognized the importance of designing for the customer and decided to broaden his skills earning his MBA at Columbia University. His first landing point post MBA – at Eli Lilly and then it’s Guidant spin-out—launched his medical device career and he has never looked back.
Many of the Guidant alums from that time went on to become giants of the medical device industry and John is no exception. He had successful stints in the U.S. and globally at Ventrica, Bard and Boston Scientific before being named CEO of Hill-Rom, a public, Fortune 1000 medical device company that is navigating it’s way across the digital and data realm.
The healthcare world has gone digital one segment at a time, with medical device companies holding up the end of the parade. Despite what looked like a traditional medtech career, John has pushed Hill Rom to step out in front of the band and right from the start, and set his sights toward re-defining the medical device giant as a connected health company. On the heels of Hill-Rom’s merger with Welch-Allyn and a string of digital health acquisitions, such as that of Voalte, John is always seeking to find the right investment balance between the company’s medical device history and its digital future.
In our discussion John discusses the importance of thinking beyond what’s always been done and the interesting new challenges faced by first-time CEOs, even those with significant management experience. As a leader with a remarkably gender-diverse management team and board of directors, he also discusses why he believes that meaningful commitment to diversity makes companies perform more effectively.
We are grateful to Manatt Health for sponsoring today’s episode of Tech Tonics. Manatt Health integrates strategic business consulting, public policy acumen, legal excellence and deep analytics capabilities to better serve the complex needs of clients across America’s healthcare system. Together with it’s parent company, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, the firm’s multidisciplinary team is dedicated to helping its clients across all industries grow and prosper.