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“There’s a Higher Purpose to What We Do”: Boston Scientific CEO on Bringing Passion to Your Career

Boston Scientific CEO Michael F. Mahoney always knew he was destined to enter the healthcare field.

“I was inspired by my grandpa who was a pediatric cardiac surgeon. I grew up admiring how he helped so many children,” Mahoney shared. “I remember sneaking into his library when I was a kid. I’d sit in his chair surrounded by all his medical books and dream about being a doctor.”

Mahoney’s childhood aspirations didn’t quite go the way he originally planned — after taking organic chemistry, he had a feeling medical school wasn’t the right fit — but he didn’t let that discourage him from his ultimate goal of changing lives through healthcare.

Today, as CEO of Boston Scientific, Mahoney oversees an organization of 29,000 employees, each of whom is dedicated to “transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world.” After finding a job where he can bring his passion to work every day, he encourages others to as well.

“Find your passion and the industry you love…. When you’re passionate about something, you will do it better and stand out from the crowd,” Mahoney says.

Glassdoor recently chatted with Mahoney to learn more about making a career of your passion, what it takes to be successful at Boston Scientific and how it felt to be named among Glassdoor’s Top CEOs for 2018 — here’s what he had to say.

Glassdoor: Congratulations on the Top CEOs win. What does it mean to you to know that your employees have rated you so highly?

Michael F. Mahoney: I am extremely honored, but I truly see this as a reflection of four key organizational strengths at Boston Scientific:

  • The leadership of our global management team;
  • our company culture and values;
  • a vibrant “winning spirit” across the company that is focused on growth, innovation, agility and accountability;
  • and a shared commitment to improving patient lives.

Glassdoor: When you interview candidates, what do you look for? What questions do you love to ask or what aspects do you like to dig into?

Michael F. Mahoney: Throughout my career I’ve learned that, while skills and experience can open the door, getting the job requires demonstrating character, commitment and passion. When I interview people, I ask what they’ve done to solve challenging problems. I’m looking for people who embrace change, and are willing to “own the situation” vs. blame the circumstance. We’re looking for people who are resilient and willing to try new things.

Glassdoor: Interviewing with a CEO can be intimidating. Do you try to put candidates at ease in any particular way? Or what is your hope for the candidate experience?

Michael F. Mahoney: I try to put people at ease through humor and spending a little time to get to know the individual on a personal level. My hope is that whether a candidate is interviewing with me or others on the team, he or she comes away with a positive sense of the company and an understanding that a career with Boston Scientific is more than just a job. Our products help people live longer and better lives, so there’s a higher purpose to what we do. I want candidates to know that everyone here, regardless of job function, is united by the shared purpose of advancing science for life.

Glassdoor: How do you align the company’s recruiting strategy with business needs?

Michael F. Mahoney: Building diverse, high-performing global teams is fundamental to executing our long-term goals. Our leadership team spends a lot of time focusing on strategy and assessing the skills and capabilities we need to evolve and grow our business. We work to develop these skills internally and proactively recruit those with capabilities to support new and emerging parts of our business, such as digital health and health economics, as well as an ability to navigate the challenges of operating in different regions around the world. We also believe in the value of fresh perspectives, and we challenge leaders to consider talent from different industries and backgrounds.

Glassdoor: Retention is hugely important these days. How do you lead your teams to retain top talent?

Michael F. Mahoney: A big part of this is creating a values-based culture centered on employee engagement. When employees are engaged and feel they are doing meaningful work, they care more about the company. We see more innovation, more teamwork, calculated risk taking, better execution and more global thinking. With greater opportunities for growth, employees are more likely to stay. It is also important that we foster a workplace that supports the growing demands and expectations of a highly diverse, multi-generational, mobile workforce. We provide employees with a variety of benefits like on-site daycare and fitness facilities in some locations, resources for back-up and after-school childcare, flexible work arrangements and meal-planning services to help employees integrate life and work. We understand that our employees are at their best when we can help them manage the pressures of life outside of work and we continually assess our benefits to help meet those needs.

Glassdoor: When you look back over your past year as CEO, can you share how you have navigated a mistake or challenge?

Michael F. Mahoney: In 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico causing catastrophic damage. Boston Scientific has more than 1,000 employees on the island. As soon as the storm passed, our teams reached out to employees to ensure their safety and began providing basic needs like food, water and medication. We soon increased our aid to employees, providing generators and fuel, and converted conference rooms into an on-site daycare. We were fortunate that all our people were safe, but more than 100 experienced significant damage to their homes, including many who lost their homes entirely. As bad as the news reports were, it wasn’t until I flew to the island with members of our leadership team that I fully grasped the gravity of the situation there.

Our employees around the world also rallied to support our colleagues in many ways and we established a Boston Scientific Employee Disaster Relief Fund that provided more than $3.5 million of direct financial assistance for housing, transportation and other needs for those impacted by the disaster. While all of this helped us get our operation fully running, there is a long, hard road to full recovery for the people of Puerto Rico. I’ve never been more humbled by an example of incredible resilience in the face of disaster than I was on this trip to Puerto Rico.

Glassdoor: Now for a few fun ones: What is one book that you think everyone should read? Why?

Michael F. Mahoney: In my spare time, I enjoy reading books based on true stories, and while I can’t recommend a book that will suit everyone’s tastes, I recently enjoyed reading Devotion by Adam Makos. It’s an inspirational story about two aviators in the U.S. Navy – one a white New Englander, the other, the first-ever African American carrier pilot. The book is set during the Korean War and at a time when segregation was still common across much of the U.S. It’s a wonderful book about friendship, resilience and amazing courage. I also liked that Rhode Island, where I live, comes up in the book.

Glassdoor: What is your go-to productivity hack?

Michael F. Mahoney: Exercise. The boost I get from a pick-up basketball game with employees on our campus court or a quick run on the treadmill before the day begins is invaluable to me. Participating in sports has always been a big part of my life. It sharpens my focus and feeds my competitive spirit.

Glassdoor: What is your #1 job search tip?

Michael F. Mahoney: Find your passion and the industry you love. It’s not easy to do and there are many choices, but it is important. When you’re passionate about something, you will do it better and stand out from the crowd. It’s also important to be open to different career paths to get to your goal. I knew from a young age that I wanted to get into healthcare. I was inspired by my grandpa who was a pediatric cardiac surgeon. I grew up admiring how he helped so many children. I remember sneaking into his library when I was a kid. I’d sit in his chair surrounded by all his medical books and dream about being a doctor. After earning a solid C- in organic chemistry, I elected to change course and approach healthcare a little differently. It was a great lesson for me.

Glassdoor: What scares you?

Michael F. Mahoney: Well, I’m the father of three kids, and my youngest is now going off to college, so sometimes that keeps me up at night.

When it comes to work, I think a lot about how important it is that we never become complacent. We should be proud of what we have accomplished but never satisfied. Innovation is our lifeblood and we need to keep challenging the status quo, pushing boundaries and identifying new and better ways to do things.

Glassdoor: What energizes you?

Michael F. Mahoney: I’m immensely proud of the impact of our work — our unwavering focus on our customers and the patients we serve. We’re making a difference for so many patients, including technologies to help those suffering from heart and circulatory problems, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease and addressing infection control, gastrointestinal and urological health. I’m always fired up when I see what our engineers are doing in the lab to bring forward innovation or when I connect with our sales teams and customers. Nothing energizes me more than hearing stories from them that demonstrate how together we are improving patient lives.

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