Yellow Folder Interview Series: Mark Sabotti, Chief Executive Officer of Comrad Medical Systems

 

Given the ongoing challenges we’ve all experienced during 2021, Yellow Folder wanted to reach out to a number of executives to understand how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses, their teams, and their ways of working.

In this seventh interview we spoke with Mark Sabotti, Chief Executive Officer of Comrad Medical Systems, to understand how he has led the company through continued change and uncertainty.

 

Question (Yellow Folder): How have you approached transitioning to a CEO role for the first time in your career?

Answer (Mark Sabotti): “I have enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t just a transition to a CEO role, but a transition into a much smaller business than the US-listed multinationals and very large companies I have previously worked with. I am very much enjoying working for a smaller business, it is much nimbler; we get things done very quickly, in some cases within the same day, it is fantastic. We also recently announced a major modern and innovative brand relaunch to reflect what we want to be as a business. We are very excited about it, it is broader than changing a logo, brand, and image, as we re-evaluated our identity, purpose and values as a business and worked with staff to get communal buy in.

Q: What changes have you and your leadership team made to the business to cope with COVID-19 and situations like the current lockdowns?

A: The most important change has been instituting a policy around working from home. The bulk of our staff haven’t been affected by COVID-19 as much as they’re from Christchurch, however this has changed recently and some of our staff have been in lockdown since June. We have instituted some policies around support for our staff, making sure everyone feels cared for. We have also partnered with a corporate wellness group called Benestar that provides confidential counselling support for our staff if needed. We are trying to keep things as fun as possible day to day as well with things like virtual pub trivia, bake boxes with chocolate cake recipes, and competitions.

Q: What have been your biggest successes during the pandemic? 

A: “One general business success we have had was relaunching our brand. This has been extremely well received externally but also internally and we worked very hard to ensure our message reflected what we all wanted to be as a business. Another external positive is that we have been really engaged with the market, both from a sales perspective, but most importantly from a product development perspective. We’re changing the way we work in terms of how we develop products; we are interacting more with the market and we’re trying to get to a point where we almost co-develop solutions with our clients.”

Q: What have been the key messages and feedback you’ve received from customers during the pandemic? Has any of this surprised you?

A: “Although not directly related to COVID-19, our new approach of expanding the partner ecosystem has been very well received. Healthcare sometimes gets a bad rap in terms of technology innovation, and the general consensus is that the health ecosystem is behind in terms of technology, which is not necessarily true. A lot of the reason we’re hearing this is that healthcare by nature is extremely silo-ed, and we probably haven’t been as good as we ought to be at partnering and connecting the dots across the ecosystem.

I have made a point of partnering and working with competitors and trying to open the ecosystem and our role in it as well. We still have a way to go, but it has been very positive, and we are on open technology, we have APIs that we make available, and our customers love it. The days of healthcare technology being a closed shop are over, and we are really keen to participate more openly going forward.”

Q: What about other challenges you’ve had to overcome?

A: “COVID-19 has been the biggest challenge, particularly not being able to see clients face to face. I see articles about the apparent new paradigm we’re facing and that we will never return to the days of business travel like in the past, and I strongly disagree with that. As soon as things open, we will be just as engaged, if not more, with clients face to face, than we have ever been. I think companies that think they can continue to do things remotely will soon change their minds when they see the impacts that companies like us will have by restarting those face-to-face meetings. Business is a personal and human thing, you have to trust and like the people you’re doing business with, and video can only go so far. Internally, we are striving to get everyone back into the office as much as possible, but there will be a greater element of flexibility than existed before.”

Q: What are your other priorities for the next 6 – 12 months and what are you most excited to do when everything opens up again?

A: “Our business priorities are to get our products and solutions that really make a difference delivered on time and on budget. In terms of the internal aspects we have come a long way in reshaping how we see ourselves, but our main priority is to make sure we have best practice product delivery going forward. We are not just aiming to delight our customers but are aiming to make a difference in the way they work, the way they do business, and how it impacts our customers’ customers, the patient.”

 

The Yellow Folder Research team would like to thank Mark very much for his insights, and wish Comrad Medical Systems much continued success.