It is nearly impossible for organizations to sustain great results without alignment among leaders. To achieve alignment, leaders of successful organizations willingly put company and team goals ahead of their own. Aligning leaders and helping them achieve a singular focus is one of the most crucial responsibilities of any chief executive. This focus is what accelerates the path forward to organizational efficiency, effectiveness, and excellence. A common trait among pioneering leaders is the ability to transform the culture of their organization by remaining true to top priorities, which in turn enriches employees, delights customers, and creates value for shareholders.
David H. Mowry is one such pioneering healthcare leader who likes to create a culture where the team is aligned to a singular shared set of goals and objectives. David is the CEO of Cutera and is a seasoned executive with history of success in the Medical Device space and a proven track record of execution and transformational results.
In an interview with Insights Success, David shared about his journey and about his contribution through Cutera.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Please brief our readers about the composition of the leadership team at Cutera.
Cutera is a story about execution, and the most critical indicator of execution is having the right leadership team in place. So, my highest and most urgent priority upon joining was the installation of a reliable and unified leadership team committed to a singular value creation game-plan.
The incumbent leadership structure lacked two main ingredients; 1) technical excellence in several critical functions and 2) leaders aligned and committed to subordinating their personal goals for the benefit of the company’s goals. Since my arrival in the summer of 2019, we have turned over nearly 85% of the senior leadership team. Our focus in recruiting new leaders was first on functional competence and subsequently on collaboration and teamwork. The result of the process has given Cutera an amazing group of committed senior leaders who have earned one another’s respect and who provide commitment and support.
Describe the company, its innovative medical aesthetics products, how it is differentiated in energy-based aesthetics, and how Cutera meets the needs of the customer.
Cutera was founded by veteran laser engineers and the spirit of innovation continues to drive the business. Somewhere along the way, our approach to innovation shifted to that of a fast follower, where our devices brought increased capabilities, but also greater complexities and costs. To correct this, we have made two fundament shifts: first, we innovate to great value – either “better outcomes at same costs,” or “same outcomes at lower cost,” or, most appealing, the homerun of “better outcomes at lower costs.” Our second shift is that we are moving away from over-engineered, fast-follower devices to being first to market for unmet clinical needs.
What were the challenges you came across since joining the organization?
There have been both micro and macro challenges. Certainly there is the obvious macro challenge presented by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Cutera, like others, needed to take significant and immediate action to survive, which we did. Looking back, I am very pleased with our efforts during this time as we not only survived the challenge, but we also emerged leaner, better aligned and more focused on our customers. We strengthened our balance sheet while also upgrading our commercial talent. As for micro challenges, we had weak supply chain and high costs which have been significantly improved through our margin expansion programs, improving profitability and enabling great reinvestment into our business to fuel longer term growth.
How would you describe your leadership style and how is that impacting the people at Cutera?
I spent some time in the Army after getting my undergraduate degree and I learned two things very quickly: first, that it is possible to learn something from everyone. Humility is a catalyst for open exchange of ideas and almost always surfaces the best solution to a problem. The second take-away for me was the value of people. People are and will always be the most critical resource. We should always respect our teams and employees, which includes sharing the data, actively communicating, empowering them, and allowing them to fail from time to time. Some other related leadership style tidbits that guide my style include the idea that you only fail when you stop trying. I also believe leaders should take the time to recognize effort and whenever possible, publicly reward results. Another belief I hold dear is that perfect is often the enemy of good, and that we must take our gains now and keep moving forward.
Describe in detail about the work culture and the values that drive the company
At Cutera, we have adopted a series of what we call Transformative Values with the belief that embracing and incorporating these values into who we are and what we do will accelerate our advance toward our shared goal of “Creating the Future of Medical Aesthetics.” These values are taking hold and helping drive the culture we seek. These values include:
- Aligned – Working as a singular team to a shared set of goals/objectives.
- Bold – Stretching outreach, expanding our impact.
- Data-Driven – Using data versus opinions to settle disputes increases alignment.
- Focus – Doing fewer things, better.
- Fun – Enjoying the work you’re assigned and the people you’re working with.
What would be your advice for emerging business leaders aspiring to venture into the healthcare industry?
I have found my 30-plus year career in medical devices and healthcare to be enriching because of the ability to participate in some small way within the value stream of improving the quality of life for others. We have all heard the phase, “do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” I have found this saying to be true for each of my assignments in the healthcare industry, regardless of sector, business structure (public or private) or company maturity (start-up or large cap strategic company). I can’t imagine leading a company outside healthcare.
How do you sustain in the current unpredictable market and hectic competition?
There is no doubt that this a hectic and competitive environment coming out of COVID-19, but companies and leaders need to stay the course by continuing to listen to customers and employees and providing differentiated offerings that bring value. And sometimes just slowing down and doing what is right can calm the pace, refocus the team, and relieve pressures that are not constructive to the process.
What is future vision for the company? And what would be the best roadmap for getting there?
At Cutera, we have a clearly stated vision, which is to “Create the future of Medical Aesthetics.” This includes being the partner of choice for our core customers, which are dermatologists, plastic surgeons and “med spa” physicians. Doing so ensures we stay focused on the right conditions, we look for first mover opportunities to meet unmet clinical needs, and we provide our offering as a true partner. As we speak, all of Cutera is well along on this journey.