In this episode, Bridget Ross talks about her career in life sciences and her most recent roles: CEO of a medical device startup, and independent board member of a medical device company; the difference between her private and public company board experience; and the challenge of growing into two new roles during the pandemic.
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Separating serving as CEO from Board chair – ChroniSense Medical
I felt that the separation of the CEO and Board Chair role would diversify responsibility. It’s a good check and balance for the CEO to have a separate board chair to oversee, to challenge, to support, to help ignite things that are important and help move us forward, break down barriers and support me on those things, or to help put the brakes on if they think I’m going too fast on something.
Independent Board member as Board Chair of startup company
The intention originally was to find the right independent board member, who would be a good fit for our board, help us build our company culture, and who would have a strong background to support me during this early stage of company growth.
We found a really strong individual who we believed would be a terrific addition to our board. Then I proposed to my two current investors/board directors – We’ve got a really unique person with terrific experience who’s an MD, holds an MBA and MPH, has raised capital as an entrepreneur, sits on other boards, is local, with impeccable education, and is a terrific person! She also happens to be female. I think she’d make an excellent board chair for us and that we should seriously consider naming her so.
We were looking for a great independent director and found an amazing board chair!
“ChroniSense is a company I joined at the beginning of the pandemic. I signed on and started in February 2020, flew to Israel, met with the group and I was… really impressed with the investors I’d be working with and the leadership team … . Just great people [and] great talent; smart, creative, great problem solvers, and meaningful technology…”
…”the opportunity for ChroniSense … how to support transition from the acute care settings into the community-type care, remote care, and how can we help with chronic care support / the variety of conditions that need to have ongoing management…”
“… this is not a consumer device, it’s not a health and wellness device, it’s a medical-grade monitoring device that we will put through the FDA offering medical-grade, on-demand, in-the-moment detailed information.”
“I met the LeMaitre team right around the time I joined ChroniSense Medical as CEO in the late winter of 2020, and when this opportunity came about, I wanted to make sure that I could tackle both my first board role and my first CEO role which were happening at the same time. Luckily, my main investors appreciated the value of their CEO having other responsibilities like this, building other networks, so they very much supported the opportunity for me to join the LeMaitre board.”
Fuqua School of Business
I was at Fuqua recently; I’d been asked to guest lecture the second-year students of the life science sector at Duke. The last question I was asked was: What were you most surprised about when you took on these two roles, as CEO of ChroniSense and joined the board at LeMaitre?
And I said, “…I was…surprised at how much fun it is to learn these two different things I’d never done before, how much I’m enjoying it, how much I’m looking at it as… another chapter, and how you can have so much joy in every chapter of your professional life – whether it’s being a second year student as an MBA here at Fuqua School of Business at Duke, or whether it’s… carrying a bag for the first time, managing people for the first time, moving to a bigger country or a bigger role or global role, leaving a company, going to another company. I guess what I found so amazing is how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve enjoyed the different opportunities I have been afforded.”
Joe: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to On Boards, a deep dive at what drives business success. Joe Ayoub, and I’m here with my co-host, Raza Shaikh. On Boards is about boards of directors and advisors and all aspects of governance. Twice a month, this is the place to hear about one of the most critically important aspects of any company or organization; its board of directors or advisors, as well as the important issues that are facing boards, company leadership and stakeholders.
Raza: Joe and I speak with a wide range of guests and talk about what makes a board successful or unsuccessful, what it means to be an effective board member, what challenges boards are facing and how they’re addressing those challenges, and how to make your board one of the most valuable assets of your organization.
Joe: Our guest today is Bridget Ross. Bridget is CEO of ChroniSense Medical, an Israel-based early-stage digital health startup focused on [00:01:00] remote patient monitoring, and she serves as Board Director and Chair of the nominating and governance committee of LeMaitre Vascular, a medical technology company.
Raza: Bridget previously served as a Global President at Johnson & Johnson and President of Henry Schein’s Global Medical Group. Bridget leads the Innovation Investing Council at the Committee of 200.
Joe: She also serves as mentor for the Ignite Accelerator, a MassMEDIC initiative, and for the Canadian Technology Accelerator via the consulate in Boston. In addition, she has served as an advisor to Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Welcome, Bridget. Thank you so much for joining us today on On Boards.
Bridget: Thank you so much. It’s great to be here with both of you.
Joe: Let’s start with your time at Johnson & Johnson. What brought you to Johnson & Johnson? And talk a little about how you progressed while [00:02:00] you were there and what you learned.
Bridget: Sure, absolutely. Again, thanks for having me. I joined J&J almost right out of university, out of college in Canada. I had a Bachelor of Business degree, a Commerce degree from a western university called University of Alberta, and I joined as a sales rep so I carried the bag and for 29 years worked my way up from a sales rep to a variety of roles in sales management, product management, business unit director in global strategic roles.
Halfway through my career at, at J&J, I moved from Canada to the US so I left the role in Canada as a business unit director for a large group of a team there, and then moved to the US for a global role and held a number of roles in the pharmaceutical and med tech sectors at Johnson & Johnson.
My last couple of roles were two global presidents, one for the women’s health group and one for the otolaryngology, ear, nose, and throat group, and the final position before I left was head of commercial operations [00:03:00] for the North America Medical Group. It was a very large responsibility because we were supporting a number of businesses in the med tech sector from the commercial operations aspect, so there were about 5,000 employees in that group that we were supporting so it was quite an interesting role across the whole sector. I really enjoyed that.
Joe: You started with a business and commerce background that ended up in life science. What drew you to the life science piece?
Bridget: That’s so interesting because, it’s been a while now, when I interviewed for jobs, looking to get into sales and marketing, really, I guess I would say marketing, because that’s what I wanted to do was get into the business side of things, a lot of those roles where people would say, “Really, you should start off in sales, carry a bag, meet with the customer, that kind of thing.”
I fell into a role as a medical sales rep. I wasn’t seeking it out necessarily, but I thought Johnson & Johnson, at the time, Janssen Pharmaceutical, seemed like a great company to be part of, so I thought, “Yeah, I’ll do that. I’ll work in sales and meet doctors and have a territory,” and [00:04:00] I so enjoyed it. It was in Western Canada and they have a very large territory there, and then eventually I moved to Ontario near Toronto and had a territory there and moved into the office to become a marketer.
Then I would say one of the most interesting jobs I had, in fact, I just did a talk at Duke on Friday with the second year MBA students, and one of the questions was, what was your most interesting job? And I have to say the first time I managed people as a sales manager at J&J in Canada was probably one of the biggest growth opportunities where you’re learning to get results through others; hire, develop, reassign, sometimes let go of team members, watching as they were promoted and so on, so it was really, really interesting.
The whole sales side of things and life sciences was something I fell into early on with J&J and thought the opportunity to get into marketing seemed good, and I just did that shift that pivoted into life science and learned the therapeutic areas, and maybe more than others, I had to spend more time on science and biology than other people who might have gotten into those [00:05:00] jobs at the beginning.
Joe: Did meeting with the customers for those years really prepare you to take a more active kind of strategic role in any way? In other words, did you have a sense of who they were and did that help you as you grew into bigger and bigger roles at J&J?
Bridget: I think so. I think it’s a great way to start for a lot of people’s careers, you are spending time with the end user, the customer. In our case, it was the physicians on the pharmaceutical side of the business. I think you also hone your communication and influencing skills, your understanding, and your listening skills. What are they looking for? What kind of patient panel do they have? Is it a rural doctor? Is it someone who’s in a city center with lots of specialists to call on? What are their needs? And you have to really pick up your listening skills and your ability to have a strong pregnant pause so you can ask a question and not answer it. Wait till they kind of jump in, and learn that.
I think that’s really important. So some of the things you learn as a sales rep in a sales job, [00:06:00]and it could be in anything, it could be retail, it could be door-to-door vacuums, whatever it could be, I think getting that face time with the customer is really important and it sets you apart as you go along in your business career. I think a lot of people who have been successful have had that same start in business.
Joe: Yeah. At some point you moved to Henry Schein’s Global Medical. How long were you there, and what did you learn there that was different from maybe what you were doing at Johnson & Johnson?
Bridget: Yeah, that’s a great question. I had spent almost 30 years at J&J on the R&D side of things, innovation side of things, and really, really enjoyed that, and this is an opportunity to move into another kind of industry, distribution of healthcare, distribution of these sorts of products, which was a really interesting role with great people.
It’s just another side of the business I hadn’t spent as much time on in the commercial operations roles and things like that. At J&J, it was much more internally focused on those sorts of roles and this is much more about getting the products out to the customer so I really enjoyed that. I led the medical group, and it was just great, great talented people and a [00:07:00] wonderful experience.
Raza: Bridget, let’s talk a little bit about ChroniSense. Introduce us to the company. What is the company? What is the medical device? What does it do, and what are you guys trying to accomplish?
Bridget: I’m so happy to do that. ChroniSense is a company that I joined at the beginning of the pandemic, so right before everything changed for all of us. And in the ensuing time from leaving Henry Schein to joining ChroniSense, I had done some work with the MassMEDIC Association, as you both mentioned at the beginning, and the Canadian Consulate working with small startup businesses and CEOs in their early stages with their strategy and preparing to go to market, and I thought that seemed awfully interesting.
As I began to think about what is it I wanted to do next, I thought maybe I would try my hand at that sort of a thing. I chose this company to take on that first CEO role at ChroniSense at the beginning of the pandemic, and our company is very much focused, as you mentioned at the beginning, on remote patient monitoring [00:08:00] and how to really provide those insights to clinicians, what they’re looking for, to truly manage and monitor their chronic care patients, so whether they’re focusing on hypertension or other sorts of conditions, how can we help support that?
Raza: What measures in particular is this company focused on? Because the general trend of kind of healthcare and maybe the hospital coming to you now, and the pandemic accelerated this, there’s a huge tailwind to that trend. What are the particular areas or indications that this company is focusing on?
Bridget: You’re right, tailwind is exactly how I would describe it, and not knowing that when I took the role in how much healthcare has changed, from us all wanting to avoid being in acute care settings to being at home as much as possible. My own mother, who’s turning 85 in November, does so much of her medicine on telehealth now, and much more than you could ever have imagined she would be doing and all people are looking at care differently [00:09:00] now.
I think the opportunity for ChroniSense, and for other companies who are trying to do the same thing, is How to support that out of the acute care settings into the community-type care, remote care, and how can we help with chronic care support, as I mentioned, in terms of the variety of conditions that need to have ongoing management, which is so important.
For ChroniSense, we’re focusing on things like blood pressure, SpO2, which is oxygen saturation, pulse rate, respiration rate, other sorts of metrics you can glean from a worn device, a wrist-worn device, that allows you to understand what’s happening with your vital signs using an app and a cloud to communicate to your clinician so they can better manage your condition.
I think what sets us apart, which is important, because there’s a lot of wrist real estate out there right now, a lot of people are wearing watches and bands and rings and all kinds of little things around their digits and so on, which is great, finger rings and ear devices – a lot of these [00:10:00] tools are very helpful, they’re health and wellness devices. They’re giving people a lot of understanding for how their trends may be looking for the day or how they’re performing, if they’re exercising and that kind of thing, and all that has some merit and some value for sure.
But this is not a consumer device, it’s not a health and wellness device, it’s a medical-grade monitoring device that we will put through the FDA as a med tech device, so it’s a little different and we believe we’re unique in that regard to offer that medical-grade, on-demand, in-the-moment detailed information.
Raza: Maybe talk a little bit about that. This device doesn’t look like that it only measures from the back of the wrist, but it has additional wrist real estate sensor. We can’t show it on the podcast, but we can describe it. But it also uses a very unique breakthrough technology to make those measurements. Talk a little bit about those.
Bridget: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it’s great. Many of the devices we’re using now for wellness devices are taking information from the back of the wrist. [00:11:00] Capillaries there that can tend to be impacted by temperature changes if you’re too cold and so on, and are just not as elastic in terms of the way they operate in your body.
What the early inventors and founders of our business did was to begin taking measurements off the inside of the wrist – on the radial artery – on the inside of your wrist rather than the outside, giving you a really robust signal quality and a good reference for those measurements, and so that is unique and patented and our signal acquisition, our algorithms, are depending on that rich signal from that radial artery from which to draw the measurements, which we believe will give us those can-be-counted-on measurements.
Raza: That’s really why you would be able to measure blood pressure which normally one associates with actual mechanically sensing the pressure on an arm cuff or something, but you will be able to use this technology to measure blood pressure.
Bridget: Yeah, that’s right. Raza. Blood pressure is really difficult to measure. It’s usually done with a cuff on your upper arm, maybe on a cuff-type device [00:12:00] on your wrist. We’re looking to get a device out into the marketplace that is comfortable and easy to wear, sort of like a watch, but it will still give you that medical-grade measurement from the optical sensor on the inside of the wrist.
Raza: What’s the regulatory way for this product to come into the market?
Bridget: We’ll be filing through the 510(k) pathway for some of the parameters we have, which would be things like pulse rate, and respiration rate, SpO2.
Raza: Talk a little bit about the fundraising for ChroniSense, how much has the company raised and are you guys looking to raise more to get this through to the FDA?
Bridget: Yeah, absolutely, and I know this is not meant to be a commercial for my fundraising, but we are beginning that process as we get into Q4 here of 2022. The company has up until now deployed about $20 million very efficiently to create the [00:13:00] first version of our technology; the algorithms, the signal quality and so on that I’ve spoken about as well as the app and the supporting cloud, and we’re looking to raise about $20 million to help complete much of the clinical work and prepare us for launch.
We are set for FDA submission for our first three indications, which are for SpO2, pulse rate and respiration rate, and we’re doing our clinical work now for blood pressure, which we will file next year, so this next $20 million that we’re bringing in will really support us for an early alpha launch and market readiness shortly thereafter.
Raza: Well, that’s incredible and very exciting. Maybe talk a little bit about how the CEO role for ChroniSense came about and how you connected with this company.
Bridget: Yeah, for sure. As I mentioned, we were living in Boston and I had been helping with some mentoring through the MassMEDIC Ignite Accelerator and the CTA at the Canadian Consulate, and it is such a refreshing experience [00:14:00] working with these sorts of small businesses. It reminded me of one of the businesses I ran for J&J, which was an acquisition that we brought in and some of the early experiences of working with companies at those early stages is really invigorating.
I had been looking at two or three different companies who were looking for a CEO that I thought might be interesting for me to consider when I was approached by a recruiter that I had spoken to a year earlier, and he reached out again to see what I was up to and mentioned there was this company that was looking for a US-based CEO. As Joe said, it was an Israeli startup and they had gotten to the point where they felt they were ready for a US market entry, let’s find a US-based CEO who’s got a commercial background who can help bring the products to market here.
I met with the group and I was just really impressed with the investors I’d be working with and the leadership team I would be taking over from, and just great people, great talent, smart, creative, great problem solvers, and a really meaningful technology because I think if we look [00:15:00] at chronic conditions now and how they’re managed, look just at hypertension alone, there’s like a third of the country dealing with something related to hypertension and they probably doesn’t even know they have high blood pressure, and so the opportunity to make an impact there and to do it swiftly was really interesting.
I met them here in Boston. I met them in Israel because I wanted to meet the team and see what was going on there and what they were all about. I signed on and I started in February,2020… and I flew over and had a great 10-day trip and then didn’t go again for two years because of the pandemic.
We managed everything via Zoom four days a week for two years because of course our weekends don’t overlap so we spent Monday to Thursday, most of my mornings, talking to folks in Israel and making progress on things, so it’s really interesting in a kind of a cool way.
Raza: Bridget, that’s great. It often is about finding a match when finding a CEO and we’re so glad that you found ChroniSense to be a good match for leading the company.
Bridget: Yes, thank you. It really was, yeah.[00:16:00]
Joe: Let’s talk about your board. How many members are there?
Bridget: We have five positions on the board; four are filled, myself, two representatives from Rainbow Medical who are our main investors, and we recently, this spring, added on an independent board member who’s taken on the chair role at our board, and there’s one opening depending on fundraising.
Joe: Let’s talk about the fact that the investors were wildly supportive of bringing in an independent to chair the board. I think that’s somewhat unusual, but I think it’s a terrific way to go if you have the right person. How did it come about and what were those conversations like?
Bridget: I think you nailed it when you said the right person, so the intention originally was to find the right independent, so let’s bring someone on who’s going to be a good fit for our board and help build our culture, who would have the right background to support me in terms of a good medical understanding, not necessarily to be a doctor, although this person is a [00:17:00] doctor, but a good medical understanding. Ideally, someone who’s been an entrepreneur, raised money, advised… so we were looking for a lot in one person, and we found this really strong individual who we thought would be terrific, and when we approached her to join the board as an independent, she was excited, so that was great. We had her on the board which was fantastic.
Then I spoke to the two Rainbow investors and said, “We’ve got a really unique person here – a terrific woman who’s an MD, holds an MBA and MPH, who’s raised money, been an entrepreneur, is on other boards, is an advisor from the local area – easier for me to get to and talk to for different things. We’re meeting tomorrow for coffee on a few things. She went to Harvard, and is a terrific person.” And I said, “She’s a woman. Obviously, I am. Wouldn’t it be great to lean into that a little bit and name her as the board chair? I think it would be terrific. I think she’s already going to add value for sure in her independent role, but making her board chair [00:18:00] I think could be really terrific for our business.”
I didn’t even have to get all the pieces out when they were nodding their head and basically saying they were in full support of me, which I’ve always appreciated. If you think that’s right thing for the business, Bridget, then that’s what we’ll do – that’s how they’ve approached it. We’ve had lots of good dialogue and debate. We do debate, trust me, and we do dialogue and lots of challenge back and forth, but in many ways, if they think I’m steering us down the right path, then they’ll go along with it, which has been great.
Joe: Great relationship to have with the investors. In terms of having an independent board chair separate from you, we’ve talked a lot on this show about the growing trend to have the CEO and chair separate for a whole bunch of reasons, but I’d like you to talk about what advantages it has proven to have for you.
Bridget: That’s great, and it’s funny you say that because when I was asking these two board members from Rainbow Medical to consider [00:19:00] this concept, they thought I was leading up to that I wanted to be the CEO and the board chair, because that’s often something that’s been done, and I said, “No, that’s absolutely not what I want to do.”
I do want to do what you said, Joe, and that sort of separate the board chair from the CEO, and I felt that it would just sort of… just diversify responsibility. It’s a good check for me. It’s a good check and balance to have the CEO have a separate board chair to oversee, to challenge, to support, to help ignite things that are important and help move us…break down barriers and support me on those things, or to help put the brakes on if they think I’m going too fast on something.
I think that’s really an important element of this split out between the CEO and the board chair. Without necessarily having delved into some of those newer trends, I sort of learned that as we were going through this, I believe that’s what’s happening more and more, and I have a couple of advisors I brought on board – who are not on the board – but [00:20:00] advisors to me as a first time CEO, woman raising money in a challenging market. I wanted to have good advisors around me who’ve done it before and can help me skip through some of the pitfalls that could occur and they really applauded it and encouraged this approach to having this separation of the board chair and the CEO and felt that when it comes to VCs looking in at what we’re doing, they would also appreciate that kind of governance and that check. So it just worked out really well all around and I think it’s been well received and the new person coming in has also really embraced her responsibilities. It’s been great.
Joe: When the chair and CEO are separate and they are great partners, it can really work, so what makes your board chair a great partner?
Bridget: That’s really a good question. When we met at the beginning of the year – it sort of started I think in the January timeframe shortly after the holidays – we were [00:21:00] introduced by another advisor that we both know and worked with. This individual was trying to help me find the right independent board person, and I described what I was looking for and I said that at the end of the day, all those skills and experiences and life events are important, but the person has to be someone I can connect with and work with and be a true partner with, Joe, like you said, and so this person who connected us said, “I think I’ve got a person in mind who would be terrific for this, but let me think about it.”
He decided to introduce us with an eight-paragraph note. Four paragraphs, there’s a lot of thought put into this, four paragraphs for why I needed this person on the board very much for the skillset that they had, but also four paragraphs on why this person would benefit from the opportunity and role to work with someone like me at the stage the company that we’re dealing with and so on, and so forth.
He set up a bit of a [00:22:00] match made in heaven with our different skill sets, what we both benefit from with this, and then sort of threw us together on a couple of calls and quickly we realized it was a good fit from a personality perspective. We both wanted to learn and grow in our roles and see the success of the company together.
From the very get-go, it was with a shared common goal that she took on this role and that I welcomed her to the position, and I think if we didn’t click, that would’ve been challenging because I think it’s important in a role like this – a small board…there are four active people, but two in Israel, two here, fundraising, lots of work, a small business, lots of things to consider – you want to make sure you can have someone to turn to who is in your corner, and that was really important for me.
Joe: It’s great that you had someone that really had the insight to match the CEO and the board chair, and it really has come together.
Bridget: That was incredible, and when we think about giving back in ways to make connections on other people, he could have just said, “Here, people, meet each other. [00:23:00] Here’s an email, you’re connected. Here’s each other’s LinkedIn profiles, good luck to you.” But no, he took some time. I literally counted the paragraphs because that was a very long effort, and it was quite an impressive effort on his part, for sure.
Joe: Are you letting him buy stock in the company or something like that?
Bridget: Yeah. Yeah. We’ll think about it, right?
Raza: You are also a board director at LeMaitre Vascular. Tell us about that company and how that role came about. It’s a publicly traded company, but what is LeMaitre working on?
Bridget: LeMaitre is a vascular surgery company. They are in the Boston area – originally, a family company that has now, as you said, been public on NASDAQ. A great company, executive team with strong financial acumen across all the key leadership positions, with good controls of their business, great commercial mindset, in particular, great on strategic acquisitions for growth – and they’ve done a lot of that over the years very successfully, tucking businesses in and bringing them in to their own [00:24:00] manufacturing and so on.
It’s been really a pleasure meeting this group. I met them right around the time I joined ChroniSense in the late winter of 2020, and when this opportunity came about, I wanted to make sure that I could tackle both my first board role and my first CEO role because it was sort of happening at the same time, and luckily, my main investors appreciated the value of their CEO having other responsibilities like this, other networks, other learnings and so on, so they very much supported the opportunity for me to join LeMaitre.
In meeting with the LeMaitre team, I was very impressed with their professionalism, their board, how efficient and how well they run things. It’s a really fine tuned machine in terms of how they work, and it was a real privilege to be asked to join.
Raza: It is often wonderful if both parties or both companies benefit from [00:25:00] having on one side you have the CEO perspective that you’re bringing to that board and on the other side, you’re getting benefit from the perspective of the board.
Bridget: Right, I mean, at the time when I joined LeMaitre, everyone in the world was dealing with this pandemic, what to do, what’s going on? And I had a bit of a unique perspective to be managing a new company out of Israel, and they were, as you remember, kind of cutting edge in terms of what’s happening with vaccinations and how they were managing controls with their employees there, so there was a lot of shared learning at that time during the pandemic. My background was steeped in med tech and some of their board members have different backgrounds, so I was able to offer some of that on that board (LeMaitre) and have enjoyed that opportunity.
Joe: So tell us a little bit more about the board. How many members and what does the board look like, if you will
Bridget: Sure, absolutely. There are three internal members of the board. There’s the CEO / chairman of the board. There’s the CFO and the president of LeMaitre, all on the board, and [00:26:00] then there were three independent Board directors. I’m the fourth of the independents, so there are seven of us when I joined and a board secretary who’s incredible.
We met over the course of the pandemic all virtually, of course, until I guess it was last summer… I met people for the first time in person shaking hands carefully outside with masks and so on in the summer of 2021, and we actually have just recently increased our board, so we’ve just added a new board member. Her first meeting will be in a couple of weeks, in middle of October, and yes, I said her, – we’ve added another female to the board, so the first six individuals on the board are men, I was the only woman, and we’re adding a second woman now.
We made a position. We didn’t have someone leave or change seats as it was in my case, where I replaced somebody who was on the board who had unfortunately passed away. I joined that seat. In this case, we’re actually making a board position for this new person to come on, so I’m [00:27:00]really excited to welcome her, and as you mentioned, I’m chair of the nom and governance committee, so it was really wonderful to be part of that whole process, a great learning, and really wonderful.
Joe: Terrific experience. Did you add the seat to add diversity or was there some other reason?
Bridget: Yeah, a combination. We really looked in the last year or so what our near and longer-term goals are for the company and our board skillset and thought we could probably do with looking at our skillset, and are there some areas maybe to shore up here and there that might warrant us looking at another individual who had some background on the commercial side, med tech side, some good quality and regulatory experience, and that sort of thing. And yeah, in terms of diversity…diversity of thought, and skillset, and background, and so on, was also important and a big consideration for us to look at welcoming someone new on the board and everyone embraced it and it was really a priority for all of us.
Joe: You are the CEO of a small, obviously private [00:28:00] company or very early stage, but you’re on the board of a publicly-traded company. What kinds of issues are discussed in the boardroom of this public company that you don’t really encounter at the company for which you’re the CEO?
Bridget: Right. That’s a great question. When I think about the agendas for both meetings, much of it is the same in terms of the formalities of resolutions and things like that, the financial summaries that are going on, how we’re tracking the budget and all those things, are you meeting your goals and so on.
The bigger difference, of course, with LeMaitre is focusing on the communication outside of the company as it’s a public company, and for us it’s obviously a little bit different. We’re still trying to make sure we’re managing and having good financial controls. It’s just a different audience for that, and that probably is one of the…the bigger things to think about.
Then of course, as you can imagine for a public company, there’s more of the bigger board conversations, whether it’s around ESG and other sorts of things that are trending, or diversity, or larger acquisition [00:29:00] – things that can take on a whole life of their own in terms of a greater conversation – whereas in my organization, we might go deep on the clinical trial, and we get a little more tactical on my board, so we all have objectives…financials to meet…goals, but we’ll go a little more tactical on my private company board than we will obviously at the public company.
Joe: Why did they decide to make a relatively new board member the chair of their nom-gov committee?
Bridget: That’s a good question. I started in April 2020 and at that time I was part of the committee. And at that time, one of the other independent board directors was chairing that committee on an interim basis. The person I replaced had been the chair before, and I was there for about…I want say six, seven months or so, which would’ve taken us into the end of 2020, and looking at just how things were going, they probably thought, Well, this is working out pretty well. She’s a good addition to the board and has [00:30:00] a lot of energy around how we do things, are we functioning well? Are we checking what we’re doing?
I ask a lot of questions, but not an inordinate number of questions, but I’m interested and I’m bringing some new thinking, a new perspective, and I was the first diverse candidate that they brought in, and assuming of course, that that had worked out well, they may have thought, Let’s see if we can add to that.
I think it’s just really about assessing my performance on the board and my fit with the board and my willingness and want to see the company grow that made them enthusiastic to make that decision and everyone had to vote on it, of course, so we have all the normal procedures to do so, and I was delighted to be asked and accepted the opportunity.
Joe: Sounds like it’s been a pretty wild couple of years in your professional life, and really good ones.
Bridget: Yeah. They really are. It’s funny because when you mention Fuqua in my introduction – I was there last week I’d been asked to guest lecture their second year students of the Life [00:31:00] Science [MBA] sector at Duke, and the last question I was asked by the last person… before it’s over, the person said, “What were you most surprised about when you took on these two roles, as CEO of ChroniSense and joined the board at LeMaitre?” And I said, “I guess I was just really surprised at how much fun it is to learn these two different things I’d never done before…how much I’m enjoying it, how much I’m looking at it as yet another chapter, and how you can have so much joy in every chapter of our professional life, whether it’s being a second year student as an MBA here at Fuqua School of Business at Duke, or whether it’s… carrying a bag for the first time, managing people for the first time, moving to a bigger country or a bigger role as a global role, leaving a company, going to another company, all these things can be so interesting, but they are just other chapters in your career and I guess what I found so amazing is how much I’ve learned and how much I’ve enjoyed the different opportunities I have been [00:32:00] afforded.”
Joe: Fantastic. Bridget, it’s been great speaking with you today. Thanks so much for joining us.
Bridget: It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you both for welcoming me.
Joe: And thank you all for listening to On Boards with our guest, Bridget Ross.
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Joe: Please stay safe and take care of yourselves, your families, and your communities as best you can. And we hope you’ll tune in for the next episode of On Boards. Thanks.