Medtronic profiles some of its many female employees who help strengthen the company's innovative and inclusive culture


Medtronic shares employees inspirational stories for IWD

Medtronic shares employees' inspirational stories for IWD

 March 12, 2020

Gender equality is not a women's issue, it's a business issue. That's why Medtronic works hard to forge an inclusive, diverse, and equitable workplace where women can thrive.

For International Women's Day, Medtronic profiled some of its many female employees who help strengthen the company's innovative and inclusive culture:

Rhea May (pictured above), Global Products Manager, United States

"I have the shoulders of other women leaders to stand on, I live in an era where diversity is valued, my advocacy has been met with open arms," says Rhea.

"So, I see it as my responsibility to continue the momentum in changing perception by showing up, presenting high quality work, making them ask for more, and continuing to step up. To take advantage of safe places to bring awareness to unconscious biases by repeating what was said and simply raising an eyebrow or displaying a gentle smile to highlight the lack of perspective. To recognize that nobody has ill intent and to appreciate my colleagues. To be authentic, respectful, gracious, yet courageous. To recognize and celebrate other women in their success."

Nithya Bandi, Marketing Manager (Minimally Invasive Surgery, Surgical Innovations), Dubai

Nithya Bandi Medtronic

"My mom was a fighter. When she was pregnant with me, she discovered she had rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Her doctors advised her to terminate the pregnancy, but she fought to keep me despite the risk to her life. Six years later, she had open heart surgery. Complications required doctors to operate on her lungs. The recovery was grueling. Still, she never gave up. In 2006, my mom faced her biggest battle yet: lung cancer," says Nithya.

"While my mom’s fight came to a tragic end, mine is just beginning. Since joining the Medtronic Minimally Invasive Therapies Group, I have worked to raise awareness about keyhole surgery(opens new window). Had this minimally invasive surgery been around when my mom was alive, I might still have her with me ... While Medtronic has given me a platform, my mom is still my inspiration. Because of her, my fight continues."

Chika Nafiu-Chima, Systems Engineer, United States

Chika Nafiu-Chima Medtronic

"My husband and I recently welcomed our first child, and after 12 weeks of maternity leave, I returned to work. Prior to motherhood, I was never one to ask for help. I was the one who didn’t have time for self-wallowing or tears. I was always in control and always prepared. Others came to me for advice," comments Chika.

"Upon returning to work, it didn’t take long for reality to set in. Pumping breast milk every three hours and suffering nightly sleep disruptions took a physical and mental toll. I constantly worried that my coworkers would question my commitment on projects. 'Mom guilt' consumed me.

"Since asking for help, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from friends, family, and coworkers. I’ve discovered there is power in vulnerability and humility. It’s the power to grant yourself grace in this season of life, the power to grant others a chance to comfort and encourage you, and the power to let life compel you to relinquish control and trust the process."

Lydia Guo, Vice President (Coronary), China

Lydia Guo Medtronic

"When I was promoted to Business Manager of the China Coronary Team, I was excited to reach such an important career milestone. However, I started to notice that I often was the only female leader in meetings. That was about the time I started to ask myself what I could do to help women at Medtronic advance their careers," states Lydia.

"Then, a great opportunity came along. I was invited to lead the Medtronic Women’s Network of Greater China. I was so excited when we had our first signature event — a leadership summit on Chinese Women’s Day. We then created a program called 'MedTalk', where we invited female managers to share their personal stories. We also launched a national road show of women leadership events at Medtronic offices across China. Everywhere we went, we saw so many talented women leaders who were eager to participate. As one MedTalk speaker put it: 'I used to be afraid to step up and speak out, but now I am not.'"

Fiona Pattiselanno, Marketing Communications & Conventions Director, Switzerland

Fiona Pattiselanno Medtronic

"Today, I lead the Europe, Middle East, and Africa Region’s Marketing Communications team and have done so since the birth of my daughter, Audrey Grace. When the role opened up, I had been working at Medtronic for four years. Quite simply, it was a dream job. However, when I was offered the role, I had just learned that I was two months pregnant — a pregnancy that was nothing short of a miracle due to medical complications. Here I was, a dream job within reach, and a baby on the way. I was happy but still felt that my pregnancy would force me to decline this new leadership role," says Fiona.

"I explained that I would love to take the position but that I was pregnant. I will never forget the answer: 'Wonderful. Congratulations. This is really great news'. And after a moment, 'So are you accepting the job?' It made me realize that Medtronic wanted me for the role because of my skills and capabilities. I started a couple of months after my maternity leave."

Xin Tang, Research & Development Engineer, China

Xin Ting Medtronic

"I joined Medtronic as a medical device toxicologist in the Surgical Technologies business in Jacksonville, Florida. Five years later, I decided to pursue an opportunity in Shanghai, China, where Medtronic had opened an R&D center. Playing a critical role in such an important market for the company was a huge responsibility, but one I was ready to assume," explains Xin.

"I am happy to say that I am one of many female scientists and engineers who work at the Medtronic Technology Center, where over 40 per cent of employees and 47 per cent of managers are women. This is no accident. It’s a reflection of the vital roles we play in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math functions within the medical technology industry.

"I feel empowered working at Medtronic because it provides an inclusive environment for both men and women. Building such an environment brings us one step closer to true gender equality."

Mariana Cestau, Senior Business Unit Manager (Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure), Chile

Mariana Cestau Medtronic

"At the age of 23 I was working as a sales representative for a prestigious pharmaceutical company in Uruguay when I got a call that would change my life. I had been promoted and given five direct reports. Even though I had earned the promotion, I could tell that some of my colleagues were skeptical because of my age. In fact, my boss looked at me somberly and said, “You will have to convince me this was a good decision," reflects Mariana.

"Today, my former boss is one of my mentors. So is the human resources manager who believed in me when others had doubts. I share my experience with younger colleagues in hope that it might help them someday. As the leader of the Medtronic Women’s Network in Chile, I am particularly interested in helping my female coworkers succeed.

"Years ago, I was challenged to prove that I could be a successful leader. Today, my husband and I challenge our children to listen, learn, and find their own mentors. I am so grateful for my mentors and the role they played in making me the leader I am."

Pranjini Sadananda, Business Development & Strategy Manager, Australia

Pranjini Sadananda Medtronic

"I took some time off work recently to arrange a very special journey — a trip to India to introduce my two-year-old daughter to my grandmother. A woman of extraordinary strength, my nan raised my mother and my aunt by herself. She did this in a society where, at the time, not having a man around was considered a curse. Her resolve to educate her daughters, encourage them to explore the world, and maintain her own independence has been a source of incredible motivation for me, and I hope, for my daughter," says Pranjini.

"Now, as chair of the Medtronic Women’s Network’s Australia Chapter, I am more passionate than ever to continue to build on the previous generation’s push for equality. By showcasing women who have pushed the boundaries (like my nan) and provided women with the tools and the platform they need to shine, we can commit to building a world where women and men are considered equal. Every little bit, in every which way, counts."

Amanda Miranda, Biomedical Product Engineer, United States

Amanda Miranda Medtronic

"My son, Jonathan, was born with a congenital heart defect called hyperplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Shortly after he was born, I had to leave my job to take care of him. Over the next four and a half years, through all the hospital stays, surgeries, and doctor visits, I never really quit being an engineer; my mind still geared toward problem-solving. But there was one problem I couldn’t solve — time was running out for Jonathan," Amanda shares.

"After the loss of my son, I wasn’t sure how to move forward and how to honor his memory. But 18 months later, I was given a special opportunity to be a part of the Careers 2.0 program which helped me get my engineering groove back. One person in particular took the time to really understand why I wanted to return to the engineering world — Senior Principal Product Engineer Juan Caballero. With Juan’s help, I increased my confidence and became a productive team member of the Medtronic Sourcing Organization. This mentee/mentor relationship has helped me broaden my horizons as an engineer, and, in turn, honor Jonathan’s memory."

Pilar Garcia Sanchez, Strategic Business Development Manager, Netherlands

Pilar Garcia Sanchez Medtronic

"Shortly after I joined Medtronic, I learned how employees can have a profound impact on the lives of patients. At the time, I was a professional translator for the company. I was told there was a patient somewhere in the United States who needed an informed consent document translated into Spanish before undergoing an urgent medical procedure. I stayed late to make sure the Spanish text was ready. It was the first time I helped a patient as a Medtronic employee, but it wouldn’t be the last," says Pilar.

"Fast forward several years when my mother was hospitalized in Spain. In the room next door was a British woman who barely spoke Spanish. Once again, I was presented with an opportunity to help a patient overcome a language barrier. That was a turning point for me. I realized the importance of communication, resilience, and empathy. And it helped me redefine what patient care can look like. At Medtronic, I’ve been given a platform to use my language skills to help patients. Here, I feel valued as an employee, as a leader, and as a woman."

Violeta Tramutola, Principal Training Education Specialist (Cardiac Rhythm and Heart Failure), Argentina

Viioleta Tramutola Medtronic

"Nothing can adequately prepare you to learn that a loved one is seriously ill. But that’s what happened in 2017 when I discovered my mother needed a pacemaker. Doctors eventually implanted a Medtronic pacemaker, making her one of the millions of people who had their lives improved by one of our devices," says Violeta.

"I am incredibly proud to work for a company that can have such a profound impact on global health. Likewise, I am incredibly proud to work for a company that supports women in the workforce.

"Six years ago, I joined the Medtronic Women's Network. After two decades at Medtronic, I am still passionate about the work we do and look forward to the journey ahead."

Read the full article via Medtronic's website or check out the company's IWD Influencer Statement.

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