Beverly Huss, President and CEO of Vibrynt, joined our Biodesign Women Alumni group for dinner a few weeks ago.Vibrynt is dedicated to creating minimally invasive therapies for patients suffering from morbid obesity. We had a wonderful time learning about Beverly’s experiences, both as a CEO and as someone who has spanned the gamut of leadership roles in a big company, namely Guidant: research and development, manufacturing, sales, marketing, finance, regulatory affairs, quality assurance, clinical affairs, and human resources. Beverly concluded her career at Guidant as President of Endovascular Solutions and Vice President of Guidant Corporation before transitioning to Vibrynt.
People First – Mentorship, Team, & Network
Beverly was enjoying a well-deserved half-retirement when she was asked to be the CEO of Vibrynt.
She did not decide to take the role because she was flattered to be such a sought-after leader – she went for the people. When Beverly joined Vibrynt, the company was still housed within ExploraMed, a medical device incubator, and she appreciated the fact that everyone there was invested in Vibrynt’s success and willing to contribute. During our conversation, Beverly emphasized the importance of the team when selecting a company to work for or invest in and in selecting a new employee for an open position. Beverly also shared her strategy in hiring the right people. She asks potential new hires for 8 to 9 references! She always looks for people who can do more than what she hires them for. Being surrounded by the right people is also important when it comes to leadership at a start-up. Beverly shared her secret weapon: she will often “send out the bat signal” and reach out to her existing network when she has a question, concern, or is in need of advice. Why re-invent the wheel when you know someone who has already gone through the same thing? Her network has always been an essential resource for her in everything from asking day-to-day questions to finding her next position, or looking for and hiring new people. Having a network is even more important now, as being a CEO is by nature a lonely position. Although she may be alone at the top, she often shares knowledge and experience among her fellow CEOs. Beverly even demonstrated her “people first” mentality during our dinner. She expressed a genuine interest in each of us, she took the time to learn about us, and she asked about our experiences with the Biodesign Fellowship. Her questions and interest were extremely encouraging and brought candor and openness to our conversation. It also gave us insight into this fundamental element of the way she works.
Beverly is confident in herself and in her choices. A self-proclaimed technology nerd, she successfully transitioned from a technical role to a non-technical one, where she found “another kind of hard” that she enjoyed just as much. Similarly, she encouraged us to take risks in roles that we might not think we are qualified for.
Beverly believes that working for a large company is an excellent way to “learn the ropes” before transitioning into working for startup companies. Beverly’s career is clearly a successful example of such a choice. A large company can provide the aspiring CEO with many different experiences and allow him/her to have “survived enough,” which seems to be the prerequisite for being a successful CEO. Guidant Corporation was particularly good at grooming its own for greatness: much of medtech leadership today is made up of Guidant alumni. Surprisingly, Beverly expressed that being the CEO of a start-up was much easier than being the leader of a division within a big company, where horizontal responsibilities disturb focus.
Our evening gave each of us a new perspective on what being the CEO of a small medtech company takes and how to successfully grow into that role. Thanks to Beverly for such inspiring mentorship.