Growing up working in her father’s dental practice, Mackenzie Richter never imagined a career in the dental industry. She carved out her own path living abroad in Europe and Asia for several years in her early 20s. Mackenzie returned home the first week of September in 2001, shortly thereafter, 9/11 happened and the world as we knew it changed. She found herself back to work in her father’s practice, where he had implemented several technologies including computer aided design/ computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), thus leading her down the road of joining the family business. She began her career in the dental industry as a CEREC Specialist at Patterson Dental. Adept at identifying market trends and emerging needs along with building the strategic plan to get there first, Richter currently serves as vice president, Sales Development for Henry Schein where she is responsible for strategy, partner relations, business solutions, and training. She joined Team Schein in 1997 where she has served in various leadership positions, including a United Kingdom-based European assignment as general manager.
Mentor spoke with Richter about her successful career.
You have a bachelor’s degree in history and French, and began as a wholesale broker in the finance industry. What drew you to the dental industry?
I saw how technology provided my father a renewed love of his profession and I wanted to share that with other practitioners. I believe at the end of the day we all want to have the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. Throughout my career I have been able to change the world for my customers and my team.
How do you help team members identify and reach both personal and professional goals?
Some of the best advice I have been given is not to look around you to determine where you want to go in your career but to really understand what areas of giftedness you have and how they can advance an organization. In short, know where you want to go, create your own map and do it your way. Last, I don’t want anyone in our organization to be good; I want us to be awesome.
What new products or innovations are you most excited about?
There is no question we are in interesting times in this industry. Health care professionals are understanding more and more about the association between oral and systemic health and the importance of oral care. But for me the answer has been the same since I started in the business — technology!
What is available now is mind blowing. In the past, a dentist would integrate a piece of technology to provide one solution — such as imaging, restorative work etc — now it is all interoperable. The digital workflows we have for implant, ortho and restorative care are a tremendous benefit for the patient and the provider.
What advice would you share with a sales rep seeking a leadership role?
I would suggest becoming a true student of the industry. Understand the dynamics that are important to the customer and to the organization you’d like to join. Identify your greatest skill and learn how to translate that into a benefit for the hiring organization. Work harder and care more than anyone else out there and you’ll have my attention.
How has your travel experience to Lyon, France; Seoul, South Korea and the United Kingdom helped to shape your sales approach to consumers in different countries?
Great question. At the end of the day, no matter where you go, people are people. There may be differing market dynamics but the challenges dentists face are about 95% similar. If you understand what is important to the person in front of you, more often than not, you can help him or her.
What keeps you awake at night?
I sleep very well but I wake up at 4:30 a.m. excited for the many opportunities ahead.
From MENTOR. May 2018;9(5): 34.