Monday, May 10, 2010

Medical Device Competitor Staff Identification - Cardiovascular Device Manufacturer

While recruiting process outsourcing and executive search are Career Solutions Group's focus, we find that sometimes the value of our service is different from our client's perspective.

Take for example what started as a recruitment process outsourcing project for Guidant Corporation (now part of Boston Scientific) and became what we call a "Competitive Talent Assessment".

As with most of our large outsourced recruiting projects, we developed a custom database for the assignment based upon our client's specifications and requirements.

For Guidant whose corporate offices were right across Monument Circle from our office, they asked us to first develop a database of just the names and titles of the sales people at their primary direct competitors, concentrating on the eastern half of the US. We built a database of over 500 salespeople from Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Biotronic, Cook, St Jude, J&J Cordis, and some other smaller players.

Guidant instructed our team of recruiters to work quickly (probably since they knew what would happen in a short time).

When Guidant executives in Guidant Sales Corporation began reviewing the preliminary results of our database, they were surprised and excited. Our staff wasn't just gathering recruiting information and interest, we were gathering extremely valuable competitive information.

In addition to gathering standard candidate interview information about career history and education, we were interviewing Guidant's competitors about the specific products that they worked with (stents, guide wires, pacemakers, balloons, etc.), the number of years they had worked with each product, and whether they were certified or trained in those specific products.

However in a good percentage of the 450 total interviews, we were getting very detailed specifics from competitor sales people about their total sales volume in a particular hospital, sometimes broken down by product, sales volume by hospital or clinic in each territory, what the sales person volume had been over the past three years, and where they currently ranked against their peers.

Within a few weeks, our staff had interviewed hundreds of Guidant's competitors and details from the interviews populated the new competitor database. Medtronic and Boston Scientific's legal departments contacted Guidant's legal department when news started circulating of a retained recruiting firm on Monument Circle in Indianapolis interviewing hundreds of their employees. Their contention? They told Guidant to tell their contracted agent, Career Solutions, that we were unlawfully using their voice mail systems. Seemed a little bizarre. But, Guidant said to wrap up the project.

We delivered the finished product in several software versions and in hard copy in a three ring binder. Guidant's HR team was able to quickly recruit several key competitors over to their team as a result of the project.

We later learned the true value of the information that we had gathered from Guidant's competitors and the strategic value of our initiative. Specific competitive information was distributed internally to Guidant staff who could best utilize it. Guidant stock was trading in the $20s at the time, well below CEO Ron Dollen's comments that it should be near $100 per share. Our competitive talent assessment project was one in a series of salvos shot at higher priced competitors sending the message that Guidant intended to grow aggressively regarless of Wall Street's belief that not having a drug eluding stent would kill the company.

It did not take long for the market and the competitors to react. Through a fierce bidding war, complicated by some product recalls, Guidant was sold for $76 per share months after completion of our project.


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