They say timing is everything. At Starkey’s Hearing Innovation Expo in January 2020, I announced we just hired the hearing industry’s first and only Chief Health Officer. Two months later, a global health crisis was gripping our nation. While we had no idea a pandemic was on our doorstep, what was already an important position took on an entirely new meaning.
Now, more than a year since the pandemic began, more and more American companies are creating a Chief Health Officer or Chief Medical Officer role. While I know firsthand how beneficial this role can be, leaders must make sure this move will actually benefit their company, not just follow the latest business trend. Over the past year, I have learned there are three questions leaders must ask before adding this position to their team.
What is Our Why?
I’m a firm believer in knowing your why and staying true to it. As a leader, your purpose should drive every decision you make. Starkey’s purpose is: connecting people through better hearing. This is why we are in the hearing business. It drives everything we do, including hiring a Chief Health Officer. We are expanding the functionality of the hearing aid to include Healthable™ technology. Dr. Archelle Georgiou was hired to oversee the health features in our hearing aids to ensure Starkey is staying true to our promise of not just helping people hear better, but helping them live better, healthier lives. Since hearing health is an overall health issue, Dr. Georgiou was someone who could educate the public, our industry and the broader health community about the link between hearing loss and health issues like cognitive decline, dementia and cardiovascular disease. A Chief Health Officer should augment your company’s priorities. Knowing your company’s why is the first step to seeing how, and if, this position helps you achieve that end goal.
Is This Person the Right Fit?
In January 2020, Archelle Georgiou, MD became the hearing industry’s first Chief Health Officer, and Starkey instantly became better for it. Dr. Georgiou is a nationally recognized physician, an author and trusted healthcare advisor. She was an already established thought leader in the medical community, and she has a gift of connecting with her audience. Once Starkey decided to create this role, Dr. Georgiou checked every box for the person we needed in this seat.
During the talent search process, there was one point I kept coming back to: knowing your why. But it wasn’t about Starkey’s why, but Archelle’s. Coming to Starkey, Archelle knew a lot about the link between hearing loss and loneliness and cognitive decline. Not just as a medical doctor, but as a daughter. Archelle watched her mother deal with hearing loss and then loneliness. She also saw the difference hearing aids made for her mother’s overall well-being, how they connected her back to the community around her. That personal experience with hearing loss is what fuels Archelle’s passion for being a hearing health advocate.
How is This Role Looking to the Future?
At Starkey, we’re not just looking to the horizon, we’re looking past it. The Chief Health Officer, just like any executive on your team, should help push your organization forward. At Starkey, Dr. Georgiou is involved in the development of new hearing technology. She is working with our R&D team to ensure that the technology we are putting into our hearing aids has a tangible impact on the user’s health and well-being.
The role of the Chief Health Officer has, arguably, never been more important. I’m glad we made the decision to add this position when we did, but it will continue to be a role that is vital for many organizations going forward. As with anything in business, when you are authentic to your business and you are making decisions that directly help achieve your purpose, success will always follow.
If you are looking to add a Chief Health Officer role, find someone who is passionate about your why and who can connect with your particular audience — whether that’s customers, your employees or even the general public. They have to have a purpose for what they are doing and why they are doing it within your organization. Our decision to add Dr. Georgiou to the team has been a win for everyone.