As a long-time Consortium corporate partner, Danaher Corporation has found success recruiting diverse talent through the organization. However, the company’s focus goes beyond just recruiting these high-caliber MBAs to include an eye for their development and advancement.
We recently spoke with several Consortium alumni who are also Danaher associates, who shared their personal stories connecting with and finding success at the company.
As a college student, Kyle Johnson studied mechanical engineering and subsequently earned a master’s in supply chain management. Until a couple years ago, he had spent his entire career in aviation and power production industries, mainly in the supply chain function. But through those experiences, he discovered his true passion and direction.
“I really found an interest in product management and wanted to close my skills gaps and financial and business acumen to become a product manager,” Johnson says.
An MBA seemed the next logical step and The Consortium the best path. In preparing for the organization’s annual Orientation Program & Career Forum (OP), Johnson discovered Danaher. “I had never heard of them before but was captivated by their offerings,” he says.
Johnson set his sights on the company, and his determination ultimately paid off. In June 2021, he assumed the role of global service product manager for one of Danaher’s operating companies, Pall Life Sciences, in the company’s rotational program. And it all began at OP.
“I was actually able to lock down an internship through the OP conference before I started [school],” says Johnson, who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business this year. “I did my summer internship with Danaher in the summer of 2020 and was able to convert that into a full-time offer.”
His experience as an intern shaped his perceptions of Danaher as a whole and revealed the path that likely lay ahead for him should he continue with the company.
“I think one of the things that I really appreciated about the internship was how real it was,” he says. “I was a member of a team, and my project was specifically related to growing the services side of their business for oil and gas applications. So they tasked me with doubling their service revenue in North America over a three-year period. So that was a pretty interesting, challenging and cross-functional experience that taught me a lot.”
Johnson and his team were able to find a solution that introduced new methods of serving customers as well as expanded upon existing operations. They did so by benchmarking what other successful service businesses were doing under the Danaher umbrella and finding ways to translate those in other areas of the business.
“It was a really holistic experience — from doing research, to being able to work across international borders and trying to figure out what works, what doesn’t work and why different things work in different parts of the world but not others,” he says. “I had full responsibility, and they treated me like a full member of the team — not an intern doing busy work.”
It was this culture of accountability, but also the support and mentorship he received from managers, that led Johnson to accept the full-time position with the company. “I felt like the culture was competitive but collaborative,” he says. “It was one that demanded results but also encouraged teamwork.”
At Pall, Johnson is involved in the design of long-term service agreements that the company can offer to customers — a role in which he says he is leveraging not only the skills he gained from his internship but also those acquired through his MBA program.
“There’s practical application of what I learned in business school,” he says, “but there’s also that on-the-job component of learning from executives who have been doing this for 30 years.”
An MBA graduate of the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business, Anita Gardea began her career in operations in the aerospace industry. In earning her MBA, Gardea hoped to pivot into human resources.
“In my operations career, I realized that some of the root causes of challenges faced by the business could be mitigated through thoughtful succession planning, leadership coaching and proactively managing the employee lifecycle experience,” she says. “I wanted to influence an organization in this way — and realized that this was in the scope of HR.”
Now a human resources business partner at Beckman Coulter, a Danaher operating company, this Consortium alumna (whose mother is also an alumna) has been able to put her new skills into practice. “I partner with associates in Beckman Coulter’s global quality, regulatory and clinicals organization to proactively influence delivery of our talent process to drive the organization’s strategic goals,” Gardea says.
She first connected with Danaher as an incoming MBA at The Consortium’s 2017 OP — a connection for which she says she will always be grateful. Although she recalls being intrigued by the company’s HR Development Program, it wasn’t what initially drew her in.
“Danaher’s support as a top Consortium sponsor motivated me to strike up a conversation, as I was extremely impressed with their commitment to champion DEI as a supporter of The Consortium’s mission,” says Gardea.
Upon learning more about the HR Development Program, she was hooked. A four to six year rotational program, it allows participants to gain experience in various HR functions in roles across Danaher’s many operating companies. “As someone interested in pivoting into HR,” Gardea says “I was highly interested in the program, as it would allow me to build my core competencies in a new area.”
Still part of the program, Gardea remains confident in her decision to earn her MBA and pivot into HR, and encourages others to also consider an MBA or, if they are already doing so, to stay the course.
“An MBA offers you the opportunity to make a major shift or accelerate in your career path,” she says. “Focus on taking advantage of the entire experience — the chance to take classes with amazing professors, build lifelong connections with fellow MBAs, contribute through impactful service and expand your perspective.”
Growing up on Chicago’s West Side, Omar Lopez experienced both what it was like to be low-income and to be more financially sound. “Having seen each of those phases gave me a greater appreciation for the amount of work that my dad and my mom had put into caring for the family, providing for the family, making certain sacrifices,” he says. “That was something that I had to look to and have as an example.”
Motivated to find a good, stable job, Lopez initially pursued engineering but always felt pulled toward business. It didn’t take him long to realize that an MBA would allow him to go in any number of directions.
“[It] was just a matter of taking the business process piece, taking the engineering approach to it and using that throughout my different roles,” says Lopez.
A 2019 Consortium alumnus of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, Lopez was introduced to Danaher, where he ended up interning during the summer before his second year of business school. “My internship was in Pall’s medical business unit,” he says. “I was doing more of a marketing operations type of role, where I was looking to basically improve the connection point between the marketing and sales functions.”
Impressed with the level of responsibility and the focus on leadership development, Lopez accepted a full-time offer with Pall Life Sciences, where he is a field service manager focused on the biotech industry in Danaher’s General Manager Development Program.
“For me, it’s more of being able to have a direct, high level of responsibility, and being held accountable for delivering results,” says Lopez. “There’s a lot of weight given to associates in terms of being able to drive and guide their own career path.”
In his current role, he leads a team of field service engineers for one of the company’s regions in the Americas. However, as part of Danaher’s rotational program, Lopez has the opportunity to jump around between different functions and geographies. His first role, for example, was focused on product management within service.
An additional benefit of Danaher’s rotational program is the peer support it provides.
“It’s a highly talented peer group, and we’ve been able to have this iron-sharpening-iron approach where we all get together and share best practices,” Lopez says. “Most of us are at different operating companies, so we might be working on similar things, and then we can share what’s been going well and what didn’t work well. That network piece alone has probably been one of the biggest benefits of being here, because you don’t feel like you’re alone.”
Another component of life at Danaher in which he has found support is in the company’s associate resource groups. Part of the steering committee for Latinx + Friends, Lopez helps plan cultural events as well as those centered on leadership development and advancement. One such recent event brought together associates and their managers.
“It was a discussion around how the leader has been leveraging and utilizing Latinx talent and how they’ve been able to learn from their associates, as well as learn how to diversify their leadership talent and skill set, just from having Latinx associates on their team,” Lopez says.
In everything he does, Lopez prefers to lead by example — and in this he is succeeding as he serves as a positive and uplifting one for kids in his hometown.
“Now the kids get to see one of their own who made it and got out of this bad predicament, and was able to do something for himself. Hopefully that sparks some sort of hope or some sort of inner drive,” he says. “That’s all I try to do because I’ve seen what my parents did for me, so I want to make sure I can do that for others as well.