By Abigail Lander, Senior General Manager UKI, GP Channel, Align Technology

The medical technology industry is shifting. Companies operating in the space are looking to create an environment that fosters innovation and allows people to share new ideas and drive forward digitally driven healthcare. To achieve this, a diverse workplace is fundamental.

The rise of technology in the world of orthodontics

Over the last few decades, we have seen the medical industry adopt digital practices and processes to redefine the patient experience. Technology has the power to strengthen the customisation of products and experiences and to adapt to the differing needs of each patient.

This is why technology underpins exactly what we do here at Align Technology. Twenty-six years ago, Align was a start-up that pioneered the clear aligner market with the Invisalign clear aligner system. Today, Align is a global medical device company, working with dental professionals worldwide to transform the smiles of more than 15 million patients.

In orthodontics, using advanced solutions such as digital workflows, computer-aided design, and computer-aided milling (CAD/CAM software) provides a better patient experience that can ensure a more predictable and faster overall result. From reducing treatment times to increasing quality of care, digital workflows enable dentists and orthodontics to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to further optimise patient results.

The drive for innovation

The MedTech industry continues to strive to evolve patient care through new innovations. For innovation to flourish, an environment that allows people to share new ideas and unique perspectives is crucial.

It’s widely acknowledged that diverse workplaces are proven to perform better – and by creating an environment that allows more women to lead, we can bring those unique perspectives to the decisions that will continue to shape the MedTech industry to be as diverse as the patient population it serves.

Looking specifically at the dental industry, over 50% of dentists in the UK are female, and this percentage is increasing*. It’s important for Align, and other companies in this space, that this is reflected in our leadership teams to ensure the work that we do best supports and reflects the needs of our customer base.

Embracing equity in the workplace

It’s no secret that the tech industry has not historically had as many women in senior leadership roles. There are fundamental differences in how women lead and bring a different perspective to certain situations. The individual strengths and unique qualities of women are something that should be encouraged in leadership.

At Align Technology we are working to offer increasing opportunities that encourage growth for our diverse global team and continue to create development opportunities for women in tech positions. A couple of years ago, we launched a Talent Management programme that included a “Women in Leadership” online course from Yale University’s School of Management. This programme created a space where women could share their experiences in the industry, future aspirations and career goals in a safe environment. We’re proud to say that in the last five years, the number of women at the management level across our EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) commercial organisation increased by 56%.

To embrace equity in the workplace, we need to get comfortable talking about it. Broadly speaking, we can’t be successful from a diversity and inclusion perspective if we aren’t thinking about equity. It’s critical that companies build an inclusive and safe environment where people are able to share their wants and needs.

Advancing your career in the MedTech industry

My main piece of advice for young women in the MedTech industry is to be yourselves. Be authentically yourselves. Don’t try to be someone else. If you find yourself in a male-dominated environment, don’t feel the need to take on ‘male traits’ to try and fit in – being a woman brings so much value to the industry.

It’s really important to also use your network as a young woman in tech. Look towards people who are in more senior leadership roles and ask to be mentored – there’s so much you can learn from others around you. It’s important to remember you’re not on your own.

For example, we have a “Women at Align” employee resource group. This programme provides opportunities for women in senior leadership roles to mentor early career colleagues who are looking to progress in their careers.

Finally, it’s important that you take every opportunity that comes your way and use this as a chance to strengthen your skills. By being in a senior leadership role at Align, one of the main things I’ve really embraced is public speaking. This was not something I had to do regularly during my career, and I have started to become much more comfortable talking to large groups of people in a variety of forums from podcasts to summits, proving to myself that I can both do it and enjoy it!

The MedTech industry is reaching new heights and transforming patient care. To continue making this positive difference in people’s lives, innovative and diverse minds are needed. Embracing and enhancing your skills as a woman can really transform the industry.

*ADA research, 2021

About the author

Abigail Lander – Sr. General Manager GP Channel UKI

Abigail Lander joined Align Technology in September 2019 as General Manager for the Ortho channel. Appointed Sr. General Manager for the GP channel UKI in July 2022, she is responsible for the business strategy and localisation efforts to meet local market demands, simplifying the Invisalign and iTero digital experience for the General Practitioners customer base. Prior to joining Align, Abigail worked for over 20 years in Smith & Nephew, where she held a variety of leadership roles in marketing and sales, including Senior Director Franchise marketing for Europe and Canada. A British national, she has a BSc in European Studies and languages from the University of Hull and a MSc in Business from the University of Warwick – Warwick Business School.