For more than 30 years, the Biosensors International Group has been designing, manufacturing and marketing innovative medical devices used during angioplasty procedures and intensive care treatment.
Joining the company 21 years ago while it was still in its infancy, Dan Wang started her journey working with Biosensors, now one of the largest manufacturers and suppliers of cardiovascular stents globally, fresh from completing a master’s program on fluid dynamics.
It was a bold career move, given she lived in Singapore and the role was based in California. However, the opportunity was too good to refuse and she made the move.
“I joined the Research and Development team, which was a fantastic experience because we developed the newest technology in the world at the time – the Drug Eluting Stent (DES) with biodegradable polymer. It really was the most innovative technology in coronary intervention,” Dan tells The CEO Magazine.
This really developed my interest in this field because it’s something that can make a big impact on people’s lives.
While she didn’t run the team at that stage, Dan was responsible for bringing the technology back to Singapore and setting up the production line there. “This really developed my interest in this field because it’s something that can make a big impact on people’s lives,” she says.
Around 2010, Dan also made the most of the company’s leadership development program, which pays for senior leaders to complete an EMBA program.
“I was lucky enough to get into the Nanyang Business School, which was a program partner with the Wharton Business School, Pennsylvania. I was excited to do something new and learn more about managing the business alongside my experience on product development,” she says.
Fast forward two years and the study paid off. Being a leader in the company, Dan was able to apply what she learned directly and quickly into the Research and Development (R&D) and Operations teams, seeing things happen more efficiently. It was at this time Dan was promoted to a broader role as Vice President of Operations and R&D.
Partnerships as a priority
With supply chain issues impacting the medical device industry, as well as the speed at which it is growing, strong partnerships are essential. Dan says one of their key advantages is their long history of working together with suppliers to find solutions.
“It’s not only been these past two years that we have been working closely with our suppliers, and they don’t just supply us with products. They also supply services and are considered our stakeholders,” she shares. “So I want to grow the company and alongside this help grow our suppliers.”
She says this includes investing in supplier innovation processes in order to make Biosensors products safer and more reliable. This investment also enables suppliers to work on automation to make things quicker and cheaper.
“I believe they appreciate our feedback and our good relationship with them. We don’t see them as a supplier, we see them as a working and strategic partner, so we grow together,” she says.
As well as boasting impressive tech innovations and sales, Biosensors was featured in The Straits Times list of Singapore’s 150 best employers in 2021.
Dan says this is likely because as a company they create a lot of opportunities for employees to grow and develop. In return, she says staff are willing to voice their ideas and innovations, which makes their processes faster and more efficient.
We don’t see them as a supplier, we see them as a working and strategic partner, so we grow together.
“We also do an employee survey every year and look at all the responses carefully to determine where action needs to be taken,” she explains. “Communication and transparency within the company is important. People know what the channels are they can use to share ideas or concerns and that we do our best to accommodate or support them.”
The company’s future is both bold and part of an industry highly regulated with a long development cycle.
“We need to invest, and continuously invest in R&D, to help the company create a sustainable future,” Dan shares.
She says they’ve spent much of the past two years focusing on doing so, and they have plans to invest more heavily and speed up the R&D program.
We need to invest, and continuously invest in R&D, to help the company create a sustainable future.
“We learned a lot during the pandemic,” she says. “Because of the border controls and the loss of direct labour personnel at a time when it was not easy to get new staff from overseas, we continuously invested in automating manufacturing processes to make them more robust, and less reliant on manual labour.”
They also learned how to work remotely while still maintaining open communication channels, and how to undertake management and practical tasks that were formerly only ever done in person. Dan says while she prefers an in-person approach, they have spent the last two years refining their virtual systems and improving efficiency to great effect.
“This is life, right?” she smiles. “It makes us better prepared to face any uncertainties, difficulties and challenges that we may have in the future. It’s something we should appreciate.”