David Prim & Christian Graves
We recently connected with Shawn Regan, CEO of RhythmLink, located a stones throw from downtown Columbia SC to discuss what he looks for when hiring the best and brightest at his company.
RhythmLink is a medical device company specializing in electrophysiological monitoring that frequently sources intellectual capital within the midlands. Regan and his company are also active with SCBIO and are helping organizations like CBG build the next generation of biotech and med device companies in our backyard.
Monitoring the pulse for intellectual talent for our area’s bio and healthcare tech space is of great importance when educating and cultivating our talents as emerging leaders. Many companies rank experience and an entrepreneurial mentality among their highest qualifications when seeking qualified talent.
Shawn’s outfit is notably tech-intensive, and new hires often require training in several areas. He shared these four main areas as suggestions for what he wishes he saw more of in the talent coming through the Rhythmlink door:
As it turns out, building medical devices requires a predetermined framework and an ability to comply with manufacturing and regulatory standards. Design controls prevail and can be an often overlooked aspect when designing a device on track for 510(k) filing, especially in new startups. Regan emphasizes that many of these controls are largely streamlined; however, these elements can fall between the cracks in traditional curriculum.
Group based projects can be the bane of any curriculum. Think many hours worked to motivate others who might not be interested in pulling their weight. Regan acknowledges these issues and points out that better organization and project management are key, especially in small- to medium-sized companies like Rhythmlink. While larger companies may have dedicated Project Managers, employees at smaller companies are often asked to wear many hats. As such, new hires often require on-the-job training to catch up with differences between academic and industrial research. Seeking out practical experience through a CBG internship or valued mentor might be the difference between an offer letter and a post-doc.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
Regan points out that, when designing tomorrow’s medical devices, his team might be asked to draw up a prototype. Even employees with other primary job functions end up needing to use design software at some point. Having a healthy mastery in CAD systems is one area that never hurts new hires. While the software can be expensive, many programs offer elective CAD coursework and CBG provides resources for those outside the standard engineering channels as well.
Giving a seminar or a talk in front of the medical school faculty is much different than interacting with a customer. Regan points out that many of his engineers run their own teams and interact directly with the customers and vendors. At Rhythmlink (and at many other medical device companies), a custom business plan is created to go along with each new project. This includes costs of goods, manufacturing costs, manufacturing time, expected sales volume, anticipated margins, and more. Most scientists and engineers they hire have little to no experience in this area, meaning Rhythmlink must provide training to new employees.
Increasingly, firms are devoting less time to overhead – especially at bootstrapped small to mid-sized companies like RhythmLink. This includes costly educational schemes that impact the bottom line and tie up valuable assets for training. Therefore, interacting with customers and bridging the gap between highly complicated product design and unfamiliar margins, pricing, and deliverables can seem like an insurmountable task to a new hire. We are committed to helping our University partners educate in the more practical skills and promoting the professional development of our members. While gaining this experience can be demanding, establishing even a basic understanding of these skills and concepts give job seekers a leg up in this competitive job market.