Closing Pitch: Leading the Pack

Armed with degrees in biochemistry and business administration, Sarah Anders, BSc, MBA, has demonstrated her knowledge in the medical device industry as she’s consistently climbed the corporate ladder. She recently joined the Henry Schein Canada Executive team to drive their large equipment and digital sales. Skilled in medical devices, capital equipment, strategic planning, dentistry, and business development, Anders previously held several leadership roles at Ivoclar Vivadent. She managed and developed the areas of alloys, metal ceramics, and removables in 2007 as director of Technical Marketing and director of Canadian Operations. During this time, she also launched new all ceramic brands and products such as IPS e.max. As executive vice president and chief sales officer, Anders was responsible for the North American sales organizations in the United States and Canada. She took some time to talk to Mentor about her successful career.

What initially drew you to the dental industry? And what has kept you engaged in this line of work?

When I graduated from college, I began looking for sales positions in health care, focusing on the pharma arena. When I found a great opportunity in the dental industry, I was hooked. First entering the dental space, I loved the balance between my love for science and my passion for sales. Over my 25-year career in the industry, I have continued to thrive on new challenges through diverse product lines and working with multiple fields of dentistry.

I stay engaged for many reasons. The industry is progressive and drives innovation. Further, it cares about the success of its clients and its industry. We continually see companies reinvesting in their business to drive growth for the future. Most important, I love being part of an industry that has such a dramatic impact on patients’ health. We all know there is a strong link between systemic health and oral health, but it goes so much further. I have been lucky enough to hear first-hand the difference a restored smile can make in a patient’s life. It restores health; it restores his or her confidence. I love making people smile.

How would you describe your leadership style, and how has it influenced your career trajectory?

That is a challenging question, as I believe you need to have multiple leadership styles to adapt to various environments and situations. In general, I am very collaborative and I am a good listener. I like to encourage my team to develop strong plans, to push the envelope and create success through the strong execution of a plan. One of the key elements that has allowed me to develop as a strong leader is my ability and willingness to adapt. I like to step back and see the big picture of complex issues, work on an effective solution while still keeping an eye on the details. At the end of the day, people are the heart of an organization. It is important for me to create an environment of growth where people can perform their best and develop their talents for the company and themselves.

How have you overcome challenges working in a male-dominated industry?

In my career, I have always taken the approach of growth, new challenges and new opportunities. My experience in the dental industry has spanned sales, marketing, continuing education, training and operations. I believe in focusing on skill development, knowledge growth and experience and that each individual can create a personal point of differentiation that can help him or her “stand out from the crowd.”

As my career has progressed, I have been more cognizant of the impact gender differences can have. My focus is to build on my foundation of success to create new opportunities for talented leaders and to allow my unique perspective as a female leader to offer new insights and new perspectives to running the day-to-day business.

What keeps you up at night?

I am much more of a morning person. I think having something “keep you up at night‘‘ is a healthy thing and keeps your intensity level high. This, however, should be manageable so that you or individuals who work on your team are not burned out. My personal philosophy is that worklife balance is impossible so you should not be stressed when you cannot achieve it. The balance can naturally tips towards work. As a strong leader, you need to ensure you manage the balance and tip it consciously between work and life, so that you can manage expectations and outcomes for both your professional and personal commitments.

From MENTOR. March 2018;9(3): 42.

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