Image courtesy of Marissa Fayer. She is a TEDx Speaker (2019 at TEDxLugano), and has been listed as one of the Top 100 Women in Medtech in 2018, a Top Woman Activist to Watch, awarded the 2018/9 Africa Development Award, a Wonder Women in Medtech in 2017, and has spoken at the World Alliance Forum, CapGemini Women of the West Forum, the MPO Summit, DeviceTalks Boston and San Francisco, numerous non-profit dedication ceremonies, and for several Top 500 companies.
Marissa Fayer, a 20-year medtech executive, entrepreneur, and philanthropist stopped in to speak with MD+DI about the changes she has seen in healthcare and how women have helped shaped the medtech industry. She is the CEO and founder of non-profit HERHealthEQ and the president of advisory firm Fayer Consulting LLC,.
MD+DI: You’ve made a tremendous impact in the healthcare industry – but tell me what led you to this field? Also, when you started your career how did the landscape in the profession look? Was it particularly diverse? How has it changed since you first started? You’ve worked with some pretty big players in the industry.
Fayer: I have always been in the Medtech and medical device industry my entire career. I was recruited by a company right after university and never looked back. The industry is always growing, innovating, and changing which I felt was interesting. I also saw the impact of being able to help improve people’s lives in an indirect but meaningful way. The industry has certainly changed a lot, for the better. Healthcare generally does skew towards a more female-focused environment, but that wasn’t necessarily the case in the manufacturing and operations side of the business in a Medtech company. I knew I was always going to be among a small group of women, which was both hard and motivating at the same time. Over the past 20 years, it has changed significantly. There are many more women in engineering and operational positions and women holding executive positions is also growing. We are certainly not at parity yet, but the industry is closer than it was years ago. Significant work and leaps need to be made and with all people working towards equality, I think the MedTech community might achieve it faster than other industries. It’s something I personally work towards and I know many others who are.
MD+DI: Tell us more about the work you’re doing now with both Fayer Consulting LLC and HERHealthEQ. What led you to form both? Are there any particular milestones that you have accomplished in Fayer Consulting or HERHealthEQ?
Fayer: Fayer Consulting LLC is my consulting firm that is focused on the healthcare industry. We focus on helping companies grow with a focus on outsourcing/offshoring and project management focused on large scale global impact, ensuring companies have the capital to grow, and strategic consulting to advance their companies into the future.
HERHealthEQ is a global non-profit and social enterprise that provides medical equipment focused on women’s health in developing countries. We focus on non-communicable diseases that affect women in these countries such as diabetes, heart disease, maternal health, and cancers affecting women and ensure they have the equipment to diagnose, treat, or prevent these diseases with closer access than they currently have. We work with local organizations, global companies and organizations, and governments in order to make a long-lasting and sustainable change for these women’s lives.
I formed Fayer Consulting after getting burnt out of corporate life and being affected by layoffs. I was also always “fighting” the system and then realized that I was supposed to be an entrepreneur. I loved my time in corporate and I learned from it, but I have grown so much further since becoming an entrepreneur. HERHealthEQ was formed after several years of inspiration and investigation. The idea was generated when I was living in Costa Rica and saw the health inequity that was present there, and also while working at a large medical device company that I knew had excess equipment that could be repurposed. I decided to put the two together and HERHealthEQ was created.
With Fayer Consulting I’m proud that we have been able to work with some of the top Fortune 500 companies in the world and also with many smaller companies… helping both achieve corporate growth goals. In HERHealthEQ, I’m proud of all the women we have been able to help to date and will continue to do so in the future. I’m also extremely proud that HERHealthEQ started slow and small so that we could figure out the best path forward and begin to create a better organization with expanding impact.
MD+DI: I want to really dive into HERHealthEQ – starting with the name. Talk a bit about the name’s origins. I also want to talk about some of the things you’ve seen as part of HERHealthEQ. What are some of the barriers to care that women in developing countries might face that might not necessarily be roadblocks in the U.S. What are some of these women facing?
Fayer: The name symbolizes our 3 key values …. HER stands for the women, Health is obvious, and EQ stands for EQuity that is achieved by the EQuipment we provide. Those three are my non-negotiable values we will always be focused on.
The barriers to healthcare these women face are similar to what we in the US would face such as distance, ability to pay, and time. Women in developing countries face additional barriers such as lack of infrastructure to access care (i.e.: no roads or transportation over long distances), no healthcare services within a very long distance (1000 miles), long wait times (days), no one to take care of their children, loss of employment because laws aren’t enforced, and a society that often values men more highly than women. In addition, women have more health concerns due to child-birth complications and many times babies delivered too close together in age because there isn’t the availability of proper family planning services or allowed in the country or per religion.
As similar to the US and other developed countries, women in these regions bear the responsibility of education, parenting, household duties such as cleaning and cooking, all while making a living to provide for their family. And as if those weren’t enough barriers, many countries and regions are in conflict zones so they also have to deal with that added stress and complication. Women are equipped to handle all of that, we are strong, but without their health they are unable to do so. This puts themselves and their children at an unfair disadvantage and doesn’t allow them to flourish or even begin to pull themselves out of poverty. Access to healthcare can give them a chance to change their situation and their lives.
MD+DI: What is perhaps one of the most touching stories you’ve experienced since founding HERHealthEQ. How has it changed your view on healthcare or has it?
Fayer: My view of healthcare refines with every project we implement. Each story deepens my conviction that we have the power to make significant changes to people’s lives globally and each person wants their health, but unfortunately because of where they live, it’s not a priority or even an option.
I’m grateful that so many similar stories often come back to me about how we have saved and impacted their lives. Women have their health which means they are able to work and support their family and send their children to school. That’s the main reason I founded HERHealthEQ. Without the medical equipment we are providing to local clinics and hospitals, they wouldn’t have the access to quality healthcare and wouldn’t have the ability to live quality lives for many years to come.
Every time I get frustrated about the day-to-day realities of running an organization, I remember the women we are working to help. I think about what these women and their children have the possibility to achieve if given the opportunity … the next Nobel Prize winner could be among them, they could develop the cure for cancer, they could be the next big entrepreneur, or they could be the next politician who improves the lives of the citizens in their country. We don’t know where and who that will happen to and it only takes a piece of equipment that would be discarded to allow the future to change.
MD+DI :Also is there any advice that you would give to an entrepreneur looking to get their feet wet in medtech?
Fayer: Do it! I think it’s the most important and rewarding industry to be in and being an entrepreneur in this space is always exciting … And challenging. The biggest piece of advice I can give someone is to make sure you are solving an actual problem. Understand the problem and create a solution for it. The industry doesn’t need more small incremental improvements. Find a hole, a gap, a need and solve that. If you understand the pain-points, you create an opportunity for yourself and your company. And make sure you think globally. The industry isn’t only US-centric and some of the largest opportunities are on a global scale.
MD+DI: Finally, what’s next on the horizon for you? Any huge projects in the pipeline?
Fayer: The future is so exciting. I have a few exciting things I’m working on. The most exciting is that we are working to transform HERHealthEQ into a social enterprise, blending the impact of non-profit with the sensibility of a business. That will allow us to receive investments and create a larger impact on the lives of women on a greater scale while creating sustainable solutions to support our business. It’s very exciting and also timely, as the industry is really changing throughout the world.
I’m also working with some really innovative companies improving the lives of women around the world (Welwaze Medical, Shero Diagnostics, and DeepLook are just a few).
So many exciting projects and I’m focused on making a positive impact in this world. That’s my mission in all that I work on.