I was 19 years old when I first walked into Starkey Hearing Technologies’ All Make Repair and Earmold Lab. My job was to clean up old hearing aids and make them look as new as possible after repair. I also polished earmold pieces.

In 1994, as a teenager still trying to figure out my direction in life, I never would have guessed that in that tiny corner of a growing global company I would realize my life’s passion.

This month, I mark 25 years at Starkey. I eventually moved out of the lab and into sales and then onto a senior management role. Every step along the way taught me more about the ins and outs of the hearing industry and every aspect of Starkey. I learned from anyone who would teach me. The more I learned, the more determined I was to help continue Starkey’s mission of helping people with hearing loss connect to the world around them; the vision Bill Austin committed his life to so many decades ago.

When I took over as President of Starkey in 2017, I felt the full weight of continuing Bill’s legacy.  I was not only responsible for driving the direction of a global company and being a leader for its 6,000 employees, I was now responsible for sustaining Starkey’s commitment to that higher purpose. That’s when I leaned on the lessons I’d learned since my first day at Starkey – it all comes down to people.

As a world leader in hearing technology, we know that hearing is very personal and all ears are unique. And just like hearing aids, hearing loss is an impairment that varies from person to person. That means attention to detail and excellent, individualized customer service are key to a hearing company’s success. People around the world are depending on us to help them connect with their loved ones. In order to serve them, you need to understand their needs and how to solve the problems they face as part of hearing loss. This is why Starkey is so dedicated to innovation and utilizing cutting-edge technology to transform hearing aids from a single-use device to hear better, into a multi-purpose tool that helps them live better. Issues like social isolation, decreased physical activity, balance issues that can result in falls — they are all issues that people with hearing loss face on a daily basis. By dedicating our time and our resources into technology to address those common concerns, we are dedicating ourselves to the patients we serve. With a product like Livio AI, we are continuing Bill’s commitment of connecting people to people. So far, the thing I’m proudest of in my career is being part of a team that is reinventing the hearing aid to deliver on that vision; to help people hear better and live better.

Twenty-five years at Starkey has taught me that everything in business comes back to people — a caring attitude, customer service, serving others, the people it takes to get the job done, the collaboration to make innovation a reality. If your focus in business is that people are the bottom line and build a team of caring people with exceptional talent, success will follow. On this anniversary, I want to thank every single person along the way who taught me that lesson and many others.

At 19 years old, I found my passion. Not many people get an opportunity like that. I have been able to devote my entire adult life to this cause that I care deeply about, and it’s my hope that I can continue doing this for the next 25 years.