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10 Things You Didn't Know about Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak

Omar Ishrak is the incumbent CEO of Medtronic, the world’s leading medical technology company. The firm pulls in about $29 billion in annual revenue, while focusing on fulfilling its mission to “alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life”. This directly ties in with their overall modus operandi – they create technology with the goal of reaching quantifiable outcomes for patients across the globe.

Ishrak started at the company in 2011, transferring from his position as President and CEO of GE Healthcare systems. He had also worked at Diasonics/Vingmed, as well as Philips Ultrasound. This Bangladeshi-born CEO is more than just a paper-pushing suit, though. He has a distinct style and sense of purpose not commonly found in mega-corporations like Medtronic. If you want to learn more about this medical tech executive, read on to learn Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Omar Ishrak.

He Engineered a Huge Merger

Medtronic acquired Irish tech firm Covidien in 2015, under the meticulous guidance of Omar Ishrak. The merger came at a cost of $49.9 billion – making it the largest med-tech merger in the history of the industry. This also allowed the corporation to move their legal address to Ireland, saving money on taxes. Though this move was controversial, even leading to the company being removed from the Fortune 500, Ishrak defended his choice. The money he saved was used to reinvest in the state of Minnesota, where Medtronic’s functional headquarters exist to this day.

He is One of Two Outsiders to Become CEO

The last time an outsider was hired as CEO of Medtronic was in 1985. Pillsbury CEO Win Wallin transferred over – and proceeded to greatly increase profit margins and distribution of Medtronic products. Though Ishrak had a lot to live up to, as the second outsider, he pulled it off. Medtronic has seen sizable increases in profits, as well as several key mergers that allowed them to corner the medical technology market.

He is Modest

When one reporter met Omar Ishrak in person, they noted that he dressed informally (no suit or tie). He also had a modest air about him, never giving off any vibe that he felt superior to this reporter. He didn’t even mind switching seats to ensure better camera positioning – and he was a natural on film. Plus, he was very straightforward with negative facts about his business; it is rare for an executive to admit failures or flaws.

He Once Hitchhiked Across the States

In his college days, Omar Ishrak crossed the entire United States by the power of the thumb. This wasn’t a mere vacation, however. He planned his route so that he would pass by every university that had an ultrasound unit, with the goal of meeting professors that could help him work on his thesis. This experience was likely crucial to his management style and life knowledge, which led the company to the prosperous position it is in today.

He Promotes Diversity and Inclusion

Following the 2016 presidential election, concerns among Medtronic employees (and frankly, everyone else) were running rampant. Omar Ishrak crafted an e-mail to send out to his employees, alluding to President-Elect Trump’s racially-charged campaign. He ensured them that diversity and inclusion were to remain an “irrevocable priority” for Medtronic.

He Has a Personal Commitment to Health Solutions

Back in 2011, Omar Ishrak was asked about the artificial pancreas. At the time, he recognized the business impact of such a device, but expressed more of an interest in the human factor. He stated that this device could “cause a revolution in healthcare”, and it was “absolutely [Medtronic’s] responsibility to fund it”. Omar doesn’t tell lies. In 2017, the first artificial pancreas designed for sufferers of Type I diabetes officially debuted on the US market. Only a few years separated Ishrak’s commitment and the end result, showing that he agrees with Medtronic’s mission of creating quantifiable outcomes.

He Always Uses Unbiased, Scientific Evidence

In an interview with Matthew Herper, Omar Ishrak talked about the importance of gathering accurate data and evidence for the proper functioning of Medtronic products. He showed an acute fondness for making use of renowned educational institutions (such as Yale) to study Medtronic products. This ensures that his company provides the solutions they promise – or can fix any problems that their products might have.

He Was Nominated for the NAAAP Top100

The National Asian American Association for Professionals is a group that seeks to help Asian-American individuals achieve recognition for their work in the community. The 2016 ceremony took place at Caesar’s Palace. During an interview on-site, Ishrak stated that the nomination was a huge honor. He also talked about how he agreed with the organizations goal, and just how important these types of societies are.

He Pushes for Simplicity

When asked a question about how Medtronic could help their products succeed in low-income markets, Omar Ishrak placed special prominence on the idea of simplicity. Not only will a simple installation open up less-experienced medical professionals to the product, but it will make it less expensive overall. Then, since more people can afford the product, prices go down naturally. This allows an essential health product to easily spread across a country – even one like India, where only 10-20% of people can afford a device like a pacemaker.

He is a Fellow of King’s College in London

The Medtronic CEO was granted this honor in July 2017 for his work in medical technology. He attended King’s College for some time, earning both his bachelor’s degree and his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the school. Thus, he is not solely a businessman – he is a trained engineer. This allows him to more effectively run his company, and it really shows in the profit margins that Medtronic has pulled in since 2011.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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