My ruminations about Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak's candor seem to have struck a nerve with readers. Judging by the comments left on the blog post, Ishrak is more polarizing than I thought he'd be.

September 14, 2011

3 Min Read
Among Readers, Ishrak Inspires Both Confidence and Skepticism

Some of you were excited about Ishrak's reign. rawfish61, who claims to have worked with Ishrak before, writes that "he's a no-excuses kind of leader who digs in deep... and has the horsepower to gain insight" and "will absolutely drive Medtronic to executional excellence." navinajmera shares that sentiment, writing that, due to the realities of healthcare in developed and developing markets, "companies in the healthcare industry will have to adopt a new economic and business model where the cost of bringing products to market are significantly reduced, profit margins and prices on products are brought down and global access and sales are increased." The commenter goes on to write that while "most companies are in denial" about this, Ishrak at least "seems to be accepting of this new reality."

Some of you, on the other hand, are not buying what Ishrak's supporters are selling. kbrown2005 writes that Ishrak is "just another CEO who sees easy money moving jobs offshore..." Frequent commenter steinp1 is also convinced that Ishrak is simply going to go on with business as usual. "Only innovative products that treat unmet medical needs will save the medical device industry! Not some new talking head!" the commenter writes.

"I can't believe how Mr. Blair has fallen so hard for what appears to be refreshing honesty," steinp1 continues. "Just because Mr. Ishrak doesn't outrightly complain about the medical device excise tax does not mean that Medtronic isn't funding Advamed to do his wailing for him. From what Mr. Ishrak has stated publicly to investors, he has primarily focused Medtronic's future efforts solely on emerging markets...the exact same thing St. Jude Medical and Boston Scientific are doing." Ishrak, steinp1 feels, will continue, with the rest of the Big Three, to cut costs rather than focus on new products and "has carved a path... to lead the continued downfall of the major players of the medical device industry." 

I suppose we don't know if Ishrak's seeming candor will translate into anything new, and there's certainly room for a healthy amount of the skepticism expressed by steinp1 and kbrown2005. It's just easy to hope for the best when a high-level executive says anything that doesn't sound canned. Of course, then comes news, as MassDevice reports, that Medtronic wants to cut about 700 more jobs this year, which would total about 2100 overall positions lost in 2011. The report notes that the move is part of a plan announced in February, well before Ishrak came aboard, and that it isn't yet known whether Ishrak will want to cut even more jobs.

What do you guys think? What would the ideal CEO look like for a major medical device maker like Medtronic? What kind of things should that CEO be doing?

I encourage you to join the discussion. Feel free to comment below. I'd also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that we're looking for guest bloggers. If this or any other topic lights a fire in you, dash off a quick blog post and send it our way.

Thomas Blair

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