Celebrating Women’s History Month 2022
Takeaway: In honor of Women’s History Month 2022, we sat down with a few members of IDT’s powerhouse of female leaders to learn more about their achievements, why they mentor other women, and how they approach leadership in the life sciences industry and beyond.
Since 1987, March has been designated as Women’s History Month, a time to commemorate and celebrate the many important contributions women have made to our workforce, culture, and communities over the course of America’s history.
As a Danaher operating company, diversity, equity, and inclusion policies and programs have paired well with IDT’s core values to create an environment where women and all other minorities are able to thrive. As a woman, scrolling through IDT’s executive leadership team is empowering, and serves as a wonderful example of how far women in STEM fields have come in only a few decades.
To get an inside take on how IDT executive leaders are overcoming the gender gap, enabling career growth for other female associates, and approaching their roles as leaders, we sat down with the following incredibly successful, intelligent, and inspiring women:
Demaris Mills, President
Demaris has spent her career in the Life Sciences and Diagnostics space, including more than 12 years with Danaher. She joined IDT as the first female president in July 2021 from Phenomenex, where she also served as President. Previously, Demaris served in several senior leadership positions throughout the U.S. and abroad at Beckman Coulter Life Sciences, Leica Biosystems, and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
Christine Boge, Sr. Vice President, Global Operations
Christine was appointed Sr. Vice President, Global Operations in May 2021. Her areas of oversight focus on IDT global operations, including direct oversight for US and European manufacturing, as well as IDT’s supply chain, and environmental health and safety (EHS) organizations.
Hanna Dust, Vice President, Human Resources
Hanna Dust joined IDT as Vice President, Human Resources in January 2021. She is responsible for leading the HR function, including the Global HR Strategy to support the IDT business in acquiring and developing talent, engaging, and retaining our associates. Hanna has more than 23 years of experience in Human Resources.
Liz Chen, General Manager, IDT China
Liz joined IDT in July 2020 as General Manager, IDT China. In this position, Liz is building and leading the IDT China commercial team to develop and execute the Company’s strategy, including market development, channel management, and organization building to expand and accelerate IDT’s growth in the China market.
Sandy Ottensmann, Vice President, Global Services
Sandy joined IDT in February 2021 as Vice President, Global Services, and will provide strategic guidance and leadership to drive a world-class service and support organization at IDT. In this new capacity, Sandy leverages more than a decade of DBS and commercial experience to optimize and strengthen IDT’s global service organization.
Greatest career achievements
While it may be clear how the above roles are critical to IDT’s success, what may not be evident is the time and effort it took for each of these women to make it to where they are today. When asked to reflect on their professional journey and identify what they view as their greatest career achievement, they had this to say:
Liz Chen: “The most exciting moment has been when I was appointed IDT China GM on July 1, 2020. In this role, I can build a strong commercial architecture and restructure the channel partner network to accelerate business growth in China, which is one of the most important IDT strategies for the future.”
Christine Boge: “I consider my biggest achievement the breadth of work which I have done. I have had the chance to hold several senior roles within supply chain, finance, and now operations, as well as leading large IT projects as well as mergers and acquisitions and other initiatives.”
Hanna Dust: “My career aspiration at 29 years old was to be promoted to a vice president of human resources for a Fortune 200 Company. I was 38 when I achieved this career goal. To get there, I had to take on increasing responsibility to gain experience, move across multiple industries to learn business models, and pursue my Global Executive MBA at Georgetown. To date, being part of IDT, a cutting-edge genomics leader with a team capable of helping save lives, has been the most challenging, inspiring, and rewarding leadership experience of my career.”
Sandy Ottensmann: “I’m proud of a process I led while I was at Phenomenex, a sister life sciences company of IDT’s. There, I led our strategic planning process – which was informed by business, market, and customer insights, as well as strategic thinking – to present a strategy that was not only clear, but actionable. The part that makes it a true achievement for me is when we took the strategy and executed it as part of policy deployment the following year. It wasn’t easy and there were bumps in the road, but we were able to shift the organization’s mindset to help sell to a different call point that was part of our strategy. It was rewarding to see the team navigate taking a great strategy to action to yield results and build new muscle in the business, all while stretching themselves in the process to do more than they thought they could.”
Taking and lending a helping hand
A common thread uniting these women, and likely most successful women, happens to be the ability to accept assistance from other female professionals. When asked about taking and lending a helping hand, our leaders shared these unique perspectives:
Demaris Mills: “When Danaher started focusing its energy on driving engagement, understanding the value that highly engaged associates could bring, I was fortunate enough to be working with two amazing leaders—Jennifer Honeycutt and Melissa Aquino. They showed me I could find my own style, my own voice, and that the way I wanted to lead could yield success.”
Christine Boge: “IDT has helped me become the leader that I am by affording me many opportunities. As IDT grew, opportunities grew with it. IDT is still growing quickly and is part of an even larger company now (Danaher). My advice to those I mentor—jump into opportunities, even if you think you might not be quite ready. Raise your hand, put your hat in the ring, and be a vocal advocate for yourself.”
Hanna Dust: “In my career, I was fortunate to have great mentors and advocates. These role models inspired, coached, motivated, and provided “tough love” when I needed it. They supported my development unconditionally. I continue to carry these same practices in my career, serving as a mentor for Diversity + Inclusion Programs for women, as executive sponsor for several chapters within Danaher, and helping create and launch the Diversity + Inclusion Council.”
Liz Chen: “I am willing to listen more frequently to female associates and leaders to understand their career development aspirations and what difficulties they might face. One example is a member of my regional sales management team. I am providing mentorship and support for her current and future roles, but also initiate spare time conversations to communicate and exchange ideas about motherhood.”
Sandy Ottensmann: “Two amazing leaders have had a positive influence on me—Demaris Mills and Bernie Duffy—and helped shape me to become the leader I am today. Both taught me that you can be a strong leader while also leading with empathy, and that caring and developing your team is the most important thing you can do as a leader. By giving people projects and stretch assignments, they are learning and developing, which enables people to build confidence so they know they can do it.”
Becoming the first female president of IDT
While the journey to executive leadership may be arduous, getting there is only a portion of the challenge. What is done with the role earned is of as much significance.
When asked how she developed her approach to leadership, our president, Demaris Mills, had this to say: "Early on in my career, I was often the only woman at the table, and I was constantly made very aware of that fact. On top of my physical “otherness” and the related assumptions I had to navigate, I couldn’t relate to the leadership models around me; I couldn’t see myself in them. Over time, I’ve discovered things about myself and continued learning, and I was lucky to encounter positive role models in my journey. Now, as president, my approach to leadership is simple: It’s about unleashing and enabling the talent on your team. Your people are your most valuable resource. I firmly believe in what we say here at Danaher, that the ‘Best Team Wins’—and it’s critical to live and support that idea wholeheartedly. Bringing great people together aligned behind common goals is step one and enabling everyone to unlock the potential they have within them is where leadership must play a big role. For me, leading well requires listening, empathy, and a commitment to empower your team.”