When former Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) CEO William Hawkins passed the torch to Omar Ishrak last year, he charged him with a mission – to protect company founder Earl Bakken’s message of corporate citizenship and share it with the world.
Ishrak has certainly taken that to heart, spending his days jet-setting around the world (Bangladesh, Spain and Mumbai in the last month alone) – and he’s been Tweeting all the while.
Although things have been quiet for the med-tech titan as of late (Medtronic’s last acquisitions were announced July 7, 2011, about 3 weeks after Ishrak took office, and closed later that year), Ishrak’s been taking to Twitter to share Medtronic’s mission with his more than 1,500 followers.
Medtronic founder Earl Bakken, who started the company with his brother-in-law in 1949 and is credited with developing the 1st external, wearable artificial pacemaker in 1957, developed a 6-part credo that still guides the company today. His vision emphasizes a dedication to patient health and corporate citizenship, including guidelines for making a fair profit and ensuring Medtronic employees feel fulfilled and secure in their work.
It’s a mission that Hawkins reminded Ishrak not to take lightly. Hawkins left Ishrak a parting gift when he handed him the company, a long-running Medtronic tradition meant to serve as a symbolic signpost, a kind of guide to the incoming leader. Hawkins himself received a sword from his predecessor, a reminder to cut through the red tape and take the competition head-on, but he wanted his successor’s vision to reach further.
"I gave him a globe," Hawkins told MassDevice in a wide-ranging interview at our Boston offices last August, one of his first since retiring from the company earlier in the year. "I said it’s all about equalizing health care and the opportunity to extend our mission around the world. When I took over, 70% of our business was in the U.S. When I passed the baton, 55% of our business was in the U.S. – but 90% of the world’s population is outside of the U.S."
Ishrak made emerging markets a focus early on, including a focused push toward India, which he called the “biggest hole” in the company’s global reach. He’s also targeting China and other emerging markets, which he has said may be "potentially less risky than creating new products for the flat U.S market."
In an email sent to employees in the weeks following his appointment as CEO, Ishrak unveiled intentions to to expand Medtronic’s global footprint by creating eight geographic regions: the U.S., Western Europe/Canada, Latin America, Greater China, Asia (including Japan), India, Middle East/Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.
"The biggest long term opportunity will be to meet the needs of billions of people who have no access to healthcare at all," he said in that email. "The population in emerging markets is tenfold that of developed countries. These statistics are further compounded by the fact that U.S. market is essentially flat…reaching the global middle class opens up opportunities to us beyond anything we’ve ever seen before."
Ishrak also took to Twitter this week, as he often does, to reiterate his dedication to Bakken’s mission with a series of Tweets, the most recent appearing on the site just hours ago.