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A medical technology CEO on why every workday should feel like a ‘home game’

How do you know when you’ve found the right job, at the right company? It’s simple, says Stryker CEO Kevin Lobo (MBA ’95), It should feel like you have the home field advantage, every day.

“The ideal work environment is one where you don’t feel the need to change the way you act or speak. You should feel comfortable, like you are playing a ‘home game’. That’s when you’ll be at your very best,” he explains.

Lobo knows the importance of finding an organization that fits. He spent over two decades working at various companies and across several industries — including packaged goods, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Though he learned a great deal and had some positive experiences working at these organizations, he never truly felt at home until he joined the major medical technology company Stryker, where he currently serves as CEO.


“The ideal work environment is one where you don’t feel the need to change the way you act or speak. You should feel comfortable, like you are playing a ‘home game’.”

-Kevin Lobo (MBA ’95), Chairman and CEO, Stryker


Looking back on his 30-year career, he’s learned that this concept of having people feel like their best selves at work comes from advocating for diversity and having strong leadership. And it starts with knowing yourself well.

Knowing yourself

Lobo’s own journey in discovering who he was and what would feel like ‘home’ to him began years ago, when he was a part-time MBA student at Rotman. He still recalls one important moment during his program, when he had to watch a filmed recording of one of his class presentations.

“When I watched my video, I was disgusted with what I saw — I didn’t look like me. I came off very aggressive and too forward. It didn’t fit with who I was,” he says. “I realized that I had been changing to fit the culture of the companies that I had worked for, and it wasn’t right.”


“A workplace where everyone feels comfortable expressing who they are has obvious benefits. More than that — it’s the mark of a truly diverse and inclusive environment.”

-Kevin Lobo (MBA ’95), Chairman and CEO, Stryker


The experience opened his eyes to how an individual’s personality and values should align with one’s work life. At the same time, organizations have a responsibility to create spaces that welcome people of different perspectives and backgrounds. This is where pushing for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace makes a difference.

“A workplace where everyone feels comfortable expressing who they are has obvious benefits. More than that — it’s the mark of a truly diverse and inclusive environment.”

Feeling at home, at work: pushing for diversity and inclusiveness

Creating the type of work culture where everyone feels comfortable requires strong leadership.

“Leaders need to set the tone for the organization. Start by talking publicly about making diversity a priority, and keep repeating that message. Then, you need to follow it up with action.”

In Lobo’s case, he’s backed up his own goal of increasing the number of women working at Stryker by demanding that recruiters present diverse candidates when he is hiring new talent. In his past three years as CEO, the organization has steadily increased the number of women in leadership and sales roles.

When it comes to changing the status quo, there needs to be transparency.

“You need to have an open environment, where people feel free to speak up and question management. And give them the freedom to act and to champion changes,” he emphasizes.


“Start by talking publicly about making diversity a priority, and keep repeating that message. Then, you need to follow it up with action.”

-Kevin Lobo (MBA ’95), Chairman and CEO, Stryker


He’s been pleased to see the increase in employee resource groups that are focused on building an inclusive culture. Recently, based on feedback from one of these groups, the company implemented new U.S. parental leave programs for new parents.

Lobo knows that there’s still work to be done — and he admits he’s still learning —but he feels they are moving in the right direction. And he’s constantly reminded about the importance of fostering diversity in the workplace.

“When people look up and around at the organization, they want to see a mix of backgrounds, experiences and a bit of themselves reflected back. That’s how you’ll get this feeling of being at home, at work.”


Written by Rebecca Cheung

About Kevin LoboMBA 1995

Class

Class year

MBA ’95

Industry

Industry

Medical Devices

Job Title

Current Position

Chairman and CEO, Stryker

Previous Work Experience

Previous Employment

Various roles at several organizations including Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods Group, Unilever, KPMG

Previous Education

Previous Education

B.Comm
McGill University
Montreal, QC


Kevin Lobo will be sharing more ideas about diversity in the workplace at Reunite@Rotman 2017


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