This interview is the third in a series of ‘Just do It!’ interviews with inspiring leaders.
Leontine Westerbroek is the HR Director Benelux at Mediq, and Ashmita Krishna is the Finance Transformation Officer at Mediq. Mediq is a Dutch healthcare company that provides hospitals, medical centers, healthcare professionals and patients at home with medical products, devices and services. The company is active in 13 European countries and employs around 2.500 people.
What is your purpose in life?
Leontine: I am very passionate about working with people, challenging if they truly live what they aspire. I very much believe in taking ownership and responsibility for your own health and well-being. Last but not least, you can only learn and grow if you are allowed to make mistakes.
Ashmita: I feel strongly about social justice, equal opportunities and creating communities of inclusion. My goal is to make a positive impact on the life of others.
How would you describe the Mediq company culture?
Leontine: Our basic attitude is to welcome and value everyone, regardless of background, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, etc. We also live our company values in a visible and practical way. We call them the 3C’s; Caring Heart, Customer Drive and Champion spirit. The heartbeat of our company culture is to provide healthcare for everyone. Call it our DNA. Our customer always comes first, whether this is a patient, healthcare professional or a healthcare insurance company. This shared purpose provides a very strong basis of belonging to unique company culture.
How does your company culture transform customer experiences?
Ashmita: An example that I am very excited about is our Meer Mens or More Human campaign. We have made a series of products for healthcare workers that support people with an illness or chronic disease. The idea is to find answers to questions like how to give people the right kind of attention or help them to manage their own health. The quality of interactions has great bearing on healthcare outcomes, which inspired us to zoom in on humanity: taking care of a human being instead of treating a disease or chronic condition. This is a new and direct way of interacting with our customers.
How important is D&I for Mediq?
Leontine: Simply put, we believe that a diverse workforce brings different perspectives to challenges and solutions. It boosts our creativity and innovation. Although we are not yet where we want to be with D&I, we do make steady progress. For example, we actively apply Spiral Dynamics across the organization to help build diverse teams. We deliberately mix teams with junior and senior talent, including people with a distance to the labour market, employ pensioners (65+) and people with a disability. Our patients and customers are by nature diverse, so we want to make sure our teams are diverse as well.
Can you tell us a bit more what Disney Rooms is all about?
Ashmita: Disney Rooms is a technique and example of cognitive diversity to stimulate diverse contributions in team dynamics. Essentially it consists of 3 phases: (1) have group fantasize and dream. No ‘but’s’ are possible in the discussion, only endless opportunities (2) Re-examine the idea & do a reality check: how can we make this happen? (3) Criticize surviving ideas; what can go wrong?
Walt Disney used to say of himself ‘there were actually three different Walts; the dreamer; the realist and the spoiler’. The idea of setting a thinking place for each stage in the method is to prepare the team mentality to switch thinking modes from one to another. It allows everyone to contribute, use each person’s strength and make better decisions together. I can recommend it to every team to include diversity of thought and opinion!
How do you integrate D&I within the Mediq Employee Experience?
Leontine: We don’t, to be honest. We want D&I to grow organically. Most important to us is to recruit and develop employees with a positive mindset. If you bring that, anything is possible at Mediq. I already explained that we deliberately recruit people from different backgrounds. Through our ‘Better Human’ campaign, we collect stories of people which we actively share with our employees and stakeholders. We believe this is the best way to integrate D&I within our company culture and employee experience.
Has Covid-19 in any way contributed to D&I?
Ashmita: I would say, time will tell. There are two different ways to look at this: you could say that with video conferencing and peeking into each other’s houses, an increased understanding of each other’s informal life has led to more inclusion. On the other hand, being less in the office affects our mental health and wellbeing. Having said this, I do think we should look at this as a great opportunity to make D&I a core value on the (virtual) work floor.
Have you been inspired in any way in your life related to D&I?
Leontine: I am a mother of two daughters, both playing Waterpolo sports at a high level. I am the team coach and fortunate to coach a very diverse group of girls, with different backgrounds, interests and ambition. It’s a humbling experience to see what a group of people can achieve if they have the same dream and aspiration.
Ashmita: My latest inspiration was triggered by the book ‘Rebel Ideas’ by Matthew Syed. With an open mind, you can set the first step in creating a positive change for yourself and others. I have a strong passion for this topic and am always looking for opportunities to educate and develop myself by being aware, non-judgmental and working on my own unconscious biases. We all have them.