- In 2016 Stryker was voted the second best place to work in Australia in the Great Place to Work awards
- Stryker has enjoyed 36 years of uninterrupted growth
- In 2016 McCarthy received a Gallup award as a Global Great Manager finalist at a Gallup conference in Nebraska
Photography by Andrew Ratter.
Ryan McCarthy CA is a winner in management as well as in the boxing ring.
Before stepping into the ring for his first boxing fight, Ryan McCarthy CA was more nervous than he’d been in his entire life.
For nine months he had been training and his goal was to win. But it was more than that. He wanted to show “the best version” of himself “...in an incredibly confronting situation”.
That was back in 2012 when McCarthy, financial controller at leading medical technology company Stryker, was finishing an emerging leaders programme. While his peers chose to stretch themselves by building houses in Fiji or trekking to Everest Base Camp, he committed to two boxing matches.
“When you’re preparing for fights and you are in the ring, you have to be there 100%. It’s very rare that in ordinary life you are truly present in every fibre of your being and I found boxing did that for me. I was then able to bring that back into my work.”
Aside from the hours of training, McCarthy needed to master the technical element of the sport. Mental courage was required.
“You don’t know if you are going to get your head punched in,” he says, “so I was pretty excited when I won. It was a perfect measurement of success.
“As accountants, a lot of what we do is supporting other people. We give advice, we keep control of a business, but it is typically someone else’s big moment when they hit their number. Whereas when I won that fight it was incredibly primal and very satisfying. It was my moment.”
Since joining Stryker seven years ago, McCarthy has advanced smartly up the ranks and has just become managing director at Stryker Medical.
It’s probably no coincidence that in May 2016 he received a Gallup award as a Global Great Manager finalist at a Gallup conference in Nebraska. Over two million participants enter into the award and according to Gallup, the ten finalists have to be consistently in the 90th percentile or above in overall engagement and to have shown high levels of consistent performance.
Stryker was voted the second best place to work in Australia.
On the awards night McCarthy wasn’t nervous.
“I just felt incredible peace. I had already won when I worked at an organisation where people care about me so much that they had done the nomination for me. There was no pressure to come first in the world.”
Last year Stryker was voted the second best place to work in Australia in the Great Place to Work awards. McCarthy puts this down to top-down policies, combined with a detailed multi-year plan initiated in 2014 and employees “knowing how their performance connects to that plan”.
It helps that healthcare is a thriving industry and while other businesses face disruption, Stryker is working to become the disrupter. In 2015, for example, they launched an orthopaedic robot.
Growth in spades
Globally, Stryker is a Fortune 500 company with 36 years of uninterrupted growth and A$13 billion in revenue; in Australia and New Zealand there are around 500 employees with A$500m revenue.
Previously the Australian business had used some of the global Stryker leadership programmes, but in recent years, it has created equivalent local programs. The result: employee engagement has gone up year on year.
In practice, this means that “a work friendship at Stryker is somewhere between a best friend and a colleague,” says McCarthy. In November, he heard how a team member, Asmah, was working late one night. It was 7pm and a colleague, Kyle, asked her if she was going to be leaving soon. When Asmah said she was going to work for another 30 minutes, Kyle offered to sit with her and help her finish her work.
Stryker is a Fortune 500 company with 36 years of uninterrupted growth and A$13 billion in revenue.
“Kyle is in a different team,” explains McCarthy. “Instead of him just leaving, he stopped to help Asmah so she could leave earlier. There was nothing in it for him but this is common at Stryker: the sense that we are all in it together.
“Culture is the sum of all the little things you do and the big things. [It’s also about] being purposeful about your people development, your accountability processes, your talent management… this is ten years’ worth of investment.”
And underpinning it all is the Gallup strengths-based approach that has been embedded in Stryker for more than 30 years.
This is part one of a two-part interview with Ryan McCarthy CA. Read part two now.