Iva Ng loves the challenge of marketing medical devices that treat heart disease
Life is unpredictable – that’s what makes it so exciting. For Iva Ng, as a marketing student, she never thought about working in the medical sector. Twelve years after graduating with a master’s degree in marketing from the University of Western Australia, however, she finds herself as director of marketing for Asia-Pacific at OrbusNeich, a developer of medical devices for the treatment of heart diseases.
“I was actually going to work in a hotel because they gave me a job offer, which was the reason I decided to move back to Hong Kong,” she says. “But then a regular customer at my family’s restaurant in Australia, who worked at OrbusNeich, encouraged me to check the company out because it was recruiting at that time. That was how I started my career.”
With no medical training at all, Ng’s career at OrbusNeich did not begin easily. “My duty was to visit doctors to tell them about our products. The company provided a few months of formal training in medical knowledge and products before I started working as a salesperson. I also did a lot of online research and read clinical reports to build my medical knowledge. I was very lucky that the doctors and my colleagues were willing to teach me and I was very willing to ask questions. It was tough, but I knew I would have to build up my medical knowledge if I wanted to work in this field,” she says.
Ng loves her job because she embraces the vision of the company and the ever-changing medical field. “The company has a long-term vision and is committed to doing what is the best for patients. A few years ago, it developed a new guiding catheter which was approved by the engineering department. But management then decided that it wanted to provide an even better product for patients. As a result, the product launch was delayed by a year for the engineers to further improve it. The company’s dedication towards striving for the best really impresses me,” she says.
Now she finds the dynamic nature of the medical industry scintillating. “I never get bored with my job because every once in a while there will be new products and new changes,” she says.
“For example, we are going to launch a groundbreaking new product soon – the dual therapy stent – which helps to reduce the risk of patients’ blood vessels re-narrowing and stimulates the healing of these blood vessels. I will be in charge of marketing the product in Asia-Pacific. I think it will be the biggest career challenge I have ever faced. In our industry there is always something new,” she says.
Having a team that complements one another, she believes, is the key to being a successful manager. “I think different people have different personalities and it is wise to communicate with them in different ways. Some staff have their own way of doing things, but from my experience I can tell that sometimes their way is not the most effective. However, I will not be in their ear the whole time telling them what to do. I let them find things out for themselves and learn from their mistakes,” she says.
“For soft-spoken staff I encourage them to speak up in meetings and provide ideas. The best ideas are often the result of a team brainstorming together.”
When recruiting, Ng doesn’t mind spending extra time to make sure she finds the best people. “I have a careful screening process to find people who will mesh well with my team. I want outgoing and sociable people on my sales team, but at they same time, they have to be very sincere. Salespeople in the medical industry must not exaggerate products as it is a matter of life and death,” she says.
She agrees that in Chinese society, females have more responsibility when it comes to taking care of family, and she is careful to balance her time between her career and her family.
“Once a week, I have to stay late in the office to have meetings with colleagues from the US and Europe, but otherwise I try to go home to my family on time,” she says. “I also make it a priority to meet my parents once a week and spend all the time during the weekends with my husband. I also take short trips away from Hong Kong once every few months to take my mind off work for a while. Things can be manageable if one is willing to plan ahead.”