Philips’ Carla Kriwet explains how the firm competes with Silicon Valley for top engineers
As CEO of Connected Care and Health Informatics for Philips, Carla Kriwet is charged with many duties beyond recruiting. But recruiting is central to her – and Philips’ – goal of saving and improving billions of lives around the globe. The 127-year-old company, once an electronics conglomerate, needs engineering graduates and other serious talent to further its mission as a global force in healthcare technology.
To compete for such talent, Dr. Kriwet offers graduates more than a chance to advance their careers and accumulate stock options. What she talks about when she talks about recruiting is saving lives. A veteran of the medical devices and medical services industries, Dr. Kriwet spoke with the Review from the US headquarters of Amsterdam-based Philips.
How great is the need for engineers at Philips, and how do you compete against Silicon Valley?
The need is high. We are hiring aggressively. There’s a labor war going on, a war for talent, and what we can bring to the table is purpose.
Our vision is to improve the lives of 3 billion people a year by 2025, and that is not just a vision we put on some PowerPoint. It’s serious. We measure people on it. We break it down per business unit and per market. We have targets which are linked to our incentives systems. And we take action when we think we are not getting there.
One example is that we figured out we’re not growing strongly enough in Africa and Southeast Asia. I’m not talking about “growth” in the financial sense, but growth in terms of saving people’s lives, in reaching that target of improving 3 billion lives a year. So we took countermeasures, like engaging with community life centers to make healthcare more accessible.
And it’s this purpose, and how seriously we take it, that differentiates us from many businesses hiring engineers.
Does that message tend to resonate with engineering graduates?
This entire generation is looking for purpose beyond making money. We get these questions from graduates: “What will be my impact? What project would I work on, and how can I be sure it really has impact?” They want to change the world.
Are tech-savvy graduates your primary target, and if so why?
I’ve been working in this industry for many years and I can tell you it’s very traditional. If you look inside a hospital, many of the processes still work more or less the same as they did 30 years ago.
And it must change. Populations are growing and aging, chronic disease is increasing and costs are increasing. At the same time, affordability and access are declining. That gap is widening, and the only chance to close it, to get good clinical outcomes at affordable costs, is with technology.
One of the reasons we are moving our US headquarters to Cambridge, Massachusetts – which will open Q1 2020 – is to bring us closer to more software talent, to startups, and to the company’s local university and hospital partners.