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Country Manager for a US Medical Device Startup Entering Japan

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1. The Brief

A medical device startup company in the pulmonary therapeutic area from the USA was looking to enter Japan. Where to start? The Japan market was being covered by the Regional APAC Director based in Singapore. Japan needed its own General Manager. The clock was ticking as their new product launch was imminent. The company intended to launch an insertable pulmonary device for the treatment of advanced COPD, with a pipeline of related devices planned for future launches. Therefore, a GM was needed, someone who was bilingual, bicultural, experienced with startups, and successful in the previous launch of a disruptive medical device technology in Japan. Having spoken to several global firms, the client was unconvinced that those firms had local knowledge. They retained Morunda.

2. Execution

We met with the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the company based in Washington DC, and discussed the technology, the needs of the company in the short and long term, as well as the specific qualities he needed to find in a Japan GM. The COO in turn set up meetings for us with the CFO and head of HR. In this way we were able to understand the business from their perspectives, contribute our insights on the Japan market, and enter a deep collaboration on the search. Working with the COO, we crafted and rehearsed a compelling pitch deck that clearly explained the company, the technology, the vision for Japan, and the ideal candidate.

The market was mapped. The focus for the evaluation was to determine whether a candidate could start and grow a disruptive medical technology product company in Japan and achieve COPD physician rapid adoption through medical education and direct sales growth. It was important that the candidate had previous experience successfully launching a disruptive technology in the market.

  • Number of potential candidates identified – 59
  • Short listed – 6
  • Weeks to complete the search – 16

The client moved through the process quickly, they were able to sell and present their firm in great detail and paint a clear picture of what success for the candidate would look like.

3. Result

Within 6 weeks the start up had interviewed and landed their star. Job done!

4. Impact

Great talent attracts great talent. In short order after joining the company, the new Japan GM hired several former colleagues to build his organization, and the company is close to launching their 1st product in Japan.

5. Testimonial

At the successful conclusion of the search, the company COO was very pleased with the result. He expressed his gratitude and applauded his decision to retain Morunda for the search. He credited the close relationship we created with the candidate, and our detailed and effective communication between and among all stakeholders as the key to our success.

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