Chief Digital Officer
Having started his career in the graphical and print industry, MED-EL Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Martin Hairer moved into IT 17 years ago, gaining experience across the spectrum. “During that time, I've worked in many different roles in the field of IT. I began in network and system administration, systems architecture, and later moved on to the engineer and development side, as a full-stack developer, then a mobile developer. Later on, I was a project manager for business applications, particularly customer relations and digital marketing tools.” He explains that propelling his career has been an interest in the possibilities of technology. “I was always fascinated about this synergy between technology and people and how technology can enable people and businesses,” he says. “That led me to 2016 when I assumed the position of Chief Digital Officer at MED-EL, leading all the digital initiatives for MED-EL worldwide.”
His approach to leadership favours putting faith in those working with him. “I believe in people and I believe in trust, meaning I want to give people as much freedom as possible to let them find the best solution for us and our customers. I would say my leadership style is a combination of being strategic, but also transformational. We want our people to be eager to learn. It is a lifelong learning journey, so we have a real focus on an individual’s personal development.”
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has not changed, but rather clarified his approach. “I think the two most important attributes that are necessary during these challenging times are flexibility and agility. Those are two often-used words, but not too often with regards to leadership. How can you lead a huge company and have all of these initiatives while staying flexible at the same time? Only by giving your gifted team the freedom, and the resources they need to find the best solution.”
MED-EL’s culture and purpose have been a natural fit for Hairer’s approach, indeed playing a significant part in attracting him to the company in the first place. “We have a significant impact on people's lives, and it's very fulfilling to know that what we do has a positive effect. A lot of companies talk about the impact of the work they do, but often it's hard to explain to the employees precisely why something is so important. Here, it's always a lived experience. They can speak to one of our patients or our customers and see the effect we have had on their lives, how our hearing implants have changed their life for the better.”
We've now leapt from having a lagging respiratory measurement system to a world-leading capability.