To offer award-winning products and exceptional customer service, earning the trust of surgeons and their patients in 40+ countries globally, takes a leader with visionary ideas, which is what François Bopp does as the President of United Orthopedic Corporation.
The company has created high-quality, versatile products and provides greater responsiveness to surgeons’ needs and, in turn, improves the clinical outcomes for their patients. Insights Success caught up with François in our endeavour to find “Most Ambitious Leaders of the Year 2022” and talked about the efforts rooted in care.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Briefly describe your professional journey up until now.
With United, a 29-years old company listed on the stock exchange in Taipei, I started the European branch in 2016 only; We are now the biggest branch in the group, active all over Europe, soon even in Russia, and have just started in the Middle East and North Africa. We will manage the sales in Australia, as well, due to my previous experience.
What challenges did you face along the way?
For those who did it once, the challenge of starting from scratch will mean something. For the others, you can only imagine that the main challenge is brand awareness. When United doesn’t mean anything else than a US airline that only some European surgeons know, certainly not a prosthesis company, you have some work to do.
Besides that, in the initial phase, the fact that the company is Taiwanese, seen at that time as Chinese, raised some concerns. The geopolitical situation and the fact that we could show our high level of quality and close attention to surgeon’s satisfaction over the years makes it easier those days.
What significant impact have you brought to the healthcare industry?
We are one of many suppliers of knees and hips, let’s face it. Also, I started in 2016 in markets where nobody was waiting for us. So, still managing to grow with a rate of around 30% per year means that we have something to offer that makes the difference. I think that the approach that United had from day one to permanently improve the existing products sounds like common sense, but not everyone does it. The regulatory barriers are part of the explanation. Also, to recognize the fact that surgeons are often alone, operating all day, and that they need special care and respect sounds obvious…but again, I wonder why not every player has our level of respect and love for our clients.
Tell us about United Orthopedic Corporation and its foundation pillar.
The company was founded in 1993 by a certain Jason Lin, who still is the Chairman and CEO. We now have branches in the USA, Japan, and Europe, the Headquarters in Taiwan, and a joint venture in China. Since day one, the focus was on knees and hips; We are developing a shoulder those days, and a spine company (A-Spine) was acquired five years ago, more or less.
I believe that in knees and hips, we have a solid offer, completed by innovative “instruments,” even a robot, rapid recovery solution, that really places us on eye level with the major players in our industry.
How does United Orthopedic Corporation promote workforce flexibility, and what is your role in it?
Flexibility is a must in our field of activity, at least for a good part of our employees that are in contact with surgeons. For those active in administration or in production, due to the production shift, flexibility and creativity are important mindsets when facing a problem, but in terms of working hours, it is, of course, a little less flexible. If you’re part of a production shift, for instance, it is key that you are there on time; otherwise, you may penalize the others and all groups.
What is your take on technology’s importance, and how are you leveraging it?
We are in a field where technology is key. In R&D, in production, in logistics, but also in the solutions we bring to the surgeons, it is key to find edges to be faster, lower the production costs, provide the more precise solution for operations, including artificial intelligence, etc.
Everywhere you look, technology is key in our world. In other words, technology is not an option; it is a must. It is part of my job to permanently look at technologies that could enhance our offer in some way.
What will be the next significant change in the healthcare industry, and how are you preparing for it?
Very unfortunately, the most significant changes those days are prices that go down almost everywhere in the world, regulatory barriers that go up, together with the associated costs. We prepare for it by improving our processes and costs.
Besides that, more and more countries have or want access to top-level solutions in orthopedics. Our role there is to provide the last generation of products to those countries and to associate it with the training of the local surgeons. A good example of it happens those days in Irak.
What are your goals in the upcoming future?
My goal is to multiply the size of United as much as possible while, of course, also, and it is actually the most important, improving the bottom line. By doing so, we will be able to reinvest in R&D, possibly also in acquisitions, and play a key role in this industry in the near future.
What advice would you like to give the next generation of aspiring business leaders?
Try to identify what interests you the most. As a father or father-in-law of 6, I can tell you that this is not always so easy. Then, “Just do it,” as they say, but do it with full focus and dedication, do it with passion; love your clients and employees. Then, look at situations the way they are and not the way you would like them to be. Last but not least: never, ever, give up!