Breaking down the culture behind one of Chicago’s top workplaces
How Medline, a family-led healthcare company, maintains an entrepreneurial spirit and bias for action
By Medline Newsroom Staff | November 20, 2020
For 10 years, Medline has been named one of Chicago’s top workplaces. All the while the company has maintained consecutive growth and more than tripled its workforce in the past 11 years.
To understand the keys to its success, the Medline Newsroom turned to employees across the organization to uncover what makes the company’s workplace strong, positive and productive.
An entrepreneurial spirit
Employees say the entrepreneurial spirt at Medline is the catalyst for success. Leaders not only encourage employees to take ownership within their roles but motivate teams to also take action, according to AJ Ford, vice president of national field sales in one of Medline’s specialty divisions. After managing advanced wound care and tissue regeneration product lines for several years, Ford now oversees acute care sales for Medline Skin Health.
“When I started out 10 years ago, right away I felt like I owned my own mini-business. I had my own product categories to manage and I was the key decision maker for those product lines,” he said. “Having that much responsibility right from the get-go is a phenomenal learning experience. It keeps you intellectually engaged, motivated and is incredibly rewarding.”
In a different department, Madison Harris—a new marketing employee—shares a similar experience.
“Within my first few months of working here, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much responsibility I have within my role. I’ve had the opportunity to take on deep, strategic projects and take them in the direction I see best,” Harris said.
Because of Medline’s enterprising nature, the company and employees can take more calculated risks, and be more agile and proactive than competitors, Ford added.
“We’re better at making strategic long-term investments and we can do that a lot faster and with less hesitation because we’re not beholden to public shareholders. We’re in an environment that encourages us to push the envelope,” he said.
“Roll up your sleeves” attitude
Medline encourages employees to roll up their sleeves to do all that they can to meet customers’ needs, even if it means entering new markets or adapting quickly to change. In one example, two Medline clinicians, Barb Pusateri and Jennifer Gassman, were quickly able to use their clinical connections as well as their personal experience volunteering at a COVID-19 test site in Chicago, to inform their teams’ response to COVID-19.
“The conversations they were having combined with their experience gave them insight early on about the use of proning (turning patients on their stomach) as an emerging strategy to help improve oxygenation in COVID-19 patients,” said Emily Berman, a director of product management at Medline.
Recognizing its importance, Berman’s team, which manages patient handling and safety products, mobilized quickly to deliver resources to caregivers on safe patient proning.
“We were able to run a webinar within weeks for the healthcare community helping to share best practices for early mobility and proning, and over the course of the coming months quickly assembled other resources including a new technique to prone patients using a lift that requires fewer caregivers at the bedside,” Berman said.
A ‘can-do’ attitude also helps Berman and her team stay relentlessly curious about how customers operate, what challenges they face and what support they need from Medline.
“Relationships must be rooted in trust,” said Berman. “We get to ask customers as many questions as we answer, and are empowered to use that knowledge to come up with new ways to improve across our organization. We also aren’t afraid to ask for the backing we need to move forward with them.”
For exceptional performers who have embraced the can-do attitude and entrepreneurial spirit, Medline typically recognizes them through its Jim Mills Excellence Awards in a ceremony at headquarters. This year, as a show of gratitude during particularly hard times, CEO Charlie Mills decided to creatively and safely travel across the Chicagoland area and parts of Wisconsin to personally deliver the awards to 13 employees.
Shared sense of purpose
Whether they are managing or developing products, driving sales or providing marketing support, teams across the company say they share Medline’s mission to make healthcare run better. Because individuals in every department understand how their role relates to Medline’s core mission of improving patient’s lives, they can navigate through tough decisions with a shared purpose, and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy, Berman said.
“One of the biggest risks that my team has taken was launching into the new product markets of Falls Management and Safe Patient Handling. Everyone worked tirelessly to make the launch successful and the driving force behind it was the shared mission of making our customers lives better through our offering and support,” said Berman.