Careers

May 14, 2018

Work at Philips and the life you save might be your own

When you work at Philips, you’ll often find unexpected and meaningful ties between your work and your personal life. Here are 5 heartwarming stories that will make you think twiceabout a career in health technology.

Estimated reading time: 2-4 minutes
Call it the ‘Philips circle’: we create meaningful innovations that improve peoples’ lives; and the health challenges we’ve experienced personally inform and inspire our work. And so it goes for manyof our employees, every day.

In good hands

Saskia at home with her daughter
Saskia at home with her daughter

When Saskia Nijs, Philips’ Head of Strategic Operations, brought her then-10-year-old daughter to the hospital for surgery, something surprised her in the waiting room.

 

“At first, [my daughter] was really afraid and crying,” Saskia shares, “but then she saw televisions with the Philips logo: Philips equipment. She turned to me and said, ‘mum, I’m not scared anymore. I’m in good hands.’ She knew I worked at Philips.”

 

Stories like this happen every day at Philips, where work and life intersect in unexpected ways.

The long flight home

This is especially true for Mark Groves, our Group Press Officer, and the story of his first born son. It was six weeks before his girlfriend’s due date, and he’d been invited to be best man at a good friend’s wedding overseas. 

 

“We discussed it at length, and ultimately decided that the likelihood of her giving birth so early was very low, so I would go,” says Mark.

 

“At around 10:30pm on the night of the wedding, I received a text message – “please call me.”

 

Mark immediately jumped to a conclusion that turned out to be the right one: his girlfriend was going into labor.

 

“Within a few minutes I was trying to get home, but in the end I had to wait – the first flight I could get home was the following evening.”

Mark’s first-born Ben
Mark’s first-born Ben: ‘It’s hard for me to imagine a more important place to find a Philips innovation that matters to me.’

It was a tortuous 36 hours. By morning, the labor itself still hadn’t started, and it looked like he would make it home before the birth. As the day wore on, however, things started to move much more quickly. After a short labor; little Ben was welcomed to the world at 8:05pm.

 

“I was a proud father, tears rolling down my cheeks, phone in my hand and getting strange looks from the other passengers waiting to board the plane,” Mark laughs.

 

Six weeks premature, Ben was quickly taken to the neonatal intensive care ward, where he was given help with breathing, keeping warm and getting enough nutrition, among other things. "Everything was as ok as it could be given the situation. But I still hadn’t seen my son. Luckily, a close friend of my girlfriend was able to take some pictures and email them to me."

 

For the long flight home, Mark had four pictures of his son to treasure.

 

“Around his tiny leg was a sensor measuring the oxygen levels in his blood. It’s part of a Philips neonatal monitor. It’s hard for me to imagine a more important place to find a Philips innovation that mattered to me at that point,” says Mark.

Breaking out of the cancer cell

Then there’s our Design Lead Christine Welsh, whose experience as a lymphatic cancer patient earlier in her life led her to join Philips and design software languages for hospital equipment interfaces.

 

“The nurses . . . were like family,” Christine remembers of the year she spent in hospital. “That year was life-changing in so many ways.”

 

The most important was that, despite coming close to death more than once, her doctors were able to save her life – she’s been free from cancer for over a decade now.

Really small things can mean the difference between life and death"

The entire grueling chapter “gave me first-hand experience of life as a patient and showed me how really small things can mean the difference between life and death,” says Christine.
Christine eventually joined Philips
Christine eventually joined Philips so she could have a direct impact on the doctor/patient journey.

“Something as mundane as the beeping of a machine saved my life as it alerted the nurses that I was in trouble.”

 

Christine eventually joined Philips so she could have a direct impact on that doctor/patient journey.

 

“Making lives better with machines is so close to my heart: because they’re just real people who try to do a great job with very sick people, and they often don’t get a lot of thanks.”

A creative response in Emergency Response

Philips Engineer Harold Hovagimian has a similar story to Christine. It was an unexpected hospital visit due to a collapsed lung that led him to uncover his own passion for healthcare technology.

A creative response in Emergency Response

With plans to be a mechanical engineer, Harold had never considered working in healthcare until he was hooked up to a faulty machine.

 

“It would spill a little bit . . . and the readings weren’t quite right, so I started playing around with the valves on the back and trying to make it work,” Harold explains.

When your son’s hooked up and it says Philips on it, it just really hits you"

“Without realizing it, I was reengineering the device that was attached to me, that was helping me breathe.”

 

One of the doctors that was overseeing his recovery came in and asked him what I was doing.

 

“He said, ‘Oh! What med school do you go to?’ And I said, ‘Oh no. I don’t go to med school.’ He said, ‘If you’re not in the medical field, you should be’” . . . so Harold re-enrolled in college as a biomedical engineer.” Since he started working at Philips, Harold has also experienced the impact his work has on the people closest to him.

 

“My son has had his ER visits, and I was working on a device that’s a child’s size, but when your son’s hooked up and it says Philips on it, it just really hits you,” Harold says.

Signs of life at a moment of life – or death
Christine eventually joined Philips
An ultrasound saved my son’s life.

The health of our loved ones clearly plays an important role in our passion for the work that we do at Philips. And it was the start of CK Andrade’s son’s life that changed her own.

 

After the happy news that she was pregnant, a week later CK found out that that she would miscarry. Fortunately for her, a young resident doctor wasn’t prepared to give up that easily, and wanted to do some tests.

 

“I remember that moment like it was yesterday when we were looking at the ultrasound and it showed his heartbeat,” reflects CK.

Ultrasound-giph

 “An ultrasound saved my son’s life,” Andrade admits, “and technology became part of my life, as well as the realization that it can be a very personal part of everyone’s life.”

 

CK worked for many years in a number of companies as she looked to build the ultimate healthcare platform. But it wasn’t until a former colleague invited her to join his new product management team at Philips that CK could find her dream career as Director of Product Management.

 

“Along the way, my son has inspired me. In the same way that he went from being a speck on an ultrasound to a real person, my dream to be able to connect people with providers is real now.”

Improving people’s lives is the ultimate feel-good/do-good career move, and many a life-altering health crisis has inspired talented professionals to work at Philips, determined to give back and make a difference.

 

It’s no secret that we’re working hard to improve the lives of three billion people through innovative health technology. From a distance, this may seem like an abstract corporate concept or dot point, but when we look closely at the stories of many of our colleagues, we’re reminded that what we create has an impact on so many lives, including our own.

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