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Getting Ahead

How to Grow Your Career Fast, According to a Sales Leader Who’s Done It

four people sitting at a table in a conference room
Inside Philips' Nashville office, as featured on The Muse

Richard Hooper had spent more than 10 years working at Invivo Corporation, a manufacturer of patient monitoring systems, when it was bought by Philips. At the time, Philips was in the middle of its own evolution: divesting from its consumer electronics and lighting businesses to focus solely on healthcare technology.

The merger meant that Hooper finally had a chance to pursue a career in the medical sales field, a sector that had long fascinated him. Today, he’s still at Philips, working as the Diagnostic Imaging Zone Leader for the Midwest.

“The ride has been fantastic,” Hooper says. “Many times, especially in healthcare technology, smaller companies get bought when larger players see potential in a product and/or service and then assimilate them into the greater masses. My work life has been an example of that, and I am much better off for it professionally and personally.”

Here, Hooper shares how he spends a typical day, what he loves about the company culture, and advice on how to get noticed for that promotion you want.

How has Philips evolved since you started working there?

One of the largest transformations began a few years ago when Philips decided to go all-in on healthcare and started to divest of its other non-healthcare, technology-related businesses, like Philips Lighting. It has allowed us to be hyper-focused on our goal of improving three billion lives by 2030. The transformation is ongoing, but the progress we have made has been astounding, with many more exciting things to come.

What are you responsible for as the Midwest Diagnostic Imaging Zone Leader (DIZL)?

The DIZL is ultimately responsible for the business unit’s performance within the precision diagnostic group. In addition to profit and loss responsibilities, my job is to help grow our people, processes, and book of business. Personnel-wise, I specifically lead a group of incredibly smart, technical-based people who support the Midwest account management team.

My day varies quite a bit depending on where we are in a given month or quarter. That said, it usually involves some rotating combination of talking with customers, evaluating strategies and pricing around potential deals, assessing and coaching our talented sales professionals, rolling quarter strategies sessions, and learning. Generally, my job is 50% customer interaction and 50% business execution. I really feel like I get the best of both worlds, which keeps things ever-changing and fresh.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

While Philips is undergoing this transformation around healthcare technology, there is also an additional initiative around precision medicine, adaptive intelligence, and oncology. We’re using all of our resources to help connect the dots between the original diagnosis and customized treatment plans by combining phenomenal technology and patient-specific data. And this is combined with the idea of getting to better patient outcomes at a quicker pace while reducing costs and lessening the burden on staff and resources. It’s really quite an exciting time. We’re on the front edge of helping patients in a real, more accurate, and consistent way with incredible technology.

What do you like best about the company culture at Philips?

I like the intensity and passion of others to continually get better and make this a great place to be. I also love the fact that the projects and equipment we work on help save people’s lives. If you can’t get on board with that, I’m not sure what will make you excited!

Richard Hooper, the Diagnostic Imaging Zone Leader for the Midwest
Richard Hooper, Philips' Diagnostic Imaging Zone Leader for the Midwest

Philips is known for encouraging fast career growth. How have you personally benefited from this?

I’d agree that Philips certainly encourages fast career growth, but I don’t want it to be misinterpreted as a negative if that’s not an individual’s path or if it takes a bit of time. The general encouragement is to put yourself into situations that make you “uncomfortable” (in a good way) to grow professionally and with the intent of showing what you can do. There isn’t an overwhelming feeling of pressure or expectation to either grow fast or fail. It’s more of an encouragement mechanism.

That said, I took the path of choosing to make myself get out of my comfort zone. I knew that I worked best when I was a little bit on edge. This allowed me to get noticed through several projects and initiatives, so when it came time for a promotion, I was used to taking on new things and systematically working through them. Once I learned how to be comfortable being uncomfortable, acceleration and growth happens organically.

What learning and development opportunities are available to Philips employees?

They are as abundant as you want to make them. There are tons of trainings and online courses available internally, a tuition reimbursement program for continued education, and plenty of people willing to mentor and help you find your path. The reality is, however, that none of these things happen without the individual taking the first step. That’s up to you.

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

I have two pieces of advice. The first is, if you so desire, feel free to aspire to and inquire about the next job you are interested in while you are over-delivering in your current position. Those people get noticed.

The second one is go mess something up. What that really means is to jump right in. Take the initiative to find the resources to solve a problem or get the job done. It’ll make all the difference.