PM360 asked Martin Madaus, PhD, Chairman and CEO of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics how he tackles business challenges. Here is what he had to say.

I started working with Ortho in 2014, a job that came with opportunity and challenge. The Carlyle Group acquired Ortho in a private-equity buyout from its former parent company. As CEO, my task was to work with great people doing amazing, lifesaving work, mobilize them for success, establish our own operating ways, and grow steadily. Many employees had been with the former parent company for decades. The transformation going forward would be a complete mindset shift.

The Challenge

The biggest obstacle we faced prompted us to take an extreme tack. For 75 years, Ortho had pioneered blood typing and in vitro diagnostics, had been under-invested, in decline, and was receiving low grades from customers.

The immediate task: To create a shared vision reimagining Ortho as an independent, growing company and carving it out of its former parent, while serving customers without interruption. To do that, we amped up investment in our customer-facing organization and R&D, while instituting our own ways to operate.

This was critical, as people’s lives and health depend upon Ortho. As a global leader in immunohematology, the science of matching blood for transfusion, we create platforms and tests. As a top player in the clinical labs market, we produce analyzers and assays that test for a variety of diseases, conditions, and substances.

The Turnaround

We needed a laser-focused strategy. So we doubled down on our core-clinical labs and immunohematology—on innovating instruments, reagents, assays, and immunoassays. About 66% of health decisions are influenced by in vitro diagnostics—that’s a big role we play in the health ecosystem. What we saw throughout: The tremendous commitment of our amazing talent. This team embraced challenge, reimagining what’s possible based on a deep understanding of what lab professionals need now and in the future.

For example, we are the only global provider of dry-slide technology, which, unlike other systems, doesn’t require water to run. This has great importance where the likelihood of poor water quality is high—it could affect results. It’s why our products are found on aircraft carriers and humanitarian aid ships globally.

Another example: In acute kidney injury (AKI), a potentially fatal condition that affects up to 50% of patients in ICUs, which until recently, was diagnosed late. New data show that with a simple test, Ortho’s VITROS® NEPHROCHECK®, doctors can recognize sooner who is most at risk for AKI so they can intervene and decrease the AKI incidence by 30% to 35%—a real shift in intervention.

While our carve-out mission seemed daunting in 2014, our success is undeniably evident: By 2017, we had transferred all Ortho businesses globally under our own management, didn’t miss a beat with customers, and built a solid foundation for future success. Ortho now generates around $1.8 billion in annual revenue and has grown year-over-year in revenues, installed base, and employees. It’s gratifying for our Ortho family to know the extra effort we invested to make that happen was worthwhile for the customers and patients we serve—as well as the long-term business success. This challenge unified us and made us more valuable to patients.

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