In the fast-changing healthcare sector, the ability to innovate is key to an organization's survival. "We constantly have to anticipate, think, change and adapt to the new environments.”

For other alumni in the fast-changing healthcare sector, their ability to innovate is nothing less than the key to their organizations’ survival.

Lionel Viret ’95 is president of Stago, a Paris-based company that produces and distributes more than 350 testing systems and products used by biomedical scientists and clinicians dealing with haemostasis (the stopping of bleeding or cessation of blood circulation) and thrombosis (the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel). His father founded Stago in 1945, and Mr. Viret, who majored in political science and minored in history at Adelphi and worked in the company’s shipping and handling department during the summers, took over in 2007. Only 30 percent of family-owned businesses make it to second-generation ownership, and the challenges facing Stago give a hint as to why that is.

Stago has grown to about 2,100 employees and now has subsidiaries in Asia and in Europe. Yet, when Mr. Viret became president just six years ago, it was organized the same way as when it had 200 employees. He rearranged some departments while making sure that the company continued its tradition of being organized around a common set of values and goals and treating its employees with respect. “If you want to last, money is nothing, employees are everything,” he says.

These days, the haemostasis and thrombosis market is demanding tests that are faster, more predictive and cheaper, Mr. Viret says. “We are witnessing in every country in the world cost-cutting measures when it comes to health expenditures,” he notes. That requires the company to keep developing new products and systems. “The most important part of our business is research and development,” Mr. Viret says. “If Stago does not innovate, Stago dies. It’s as simple as that.”

The company has established some mechanisms to spur innovation. Over the years, it’s nurtured close relationships with centers of discovery like pharmaceutical firms, start-up companies and universities in the united States, Europe and, more recently, Asia and the Middle East. Stago also invites new ideas from anybody inside the company, from the most junior secretary to the president. Every two years, it even hosts an official “internal innovation forum,” where employees can present new ideas.

Finally, Mr. Viret works to foster a climate where people are nice to one another. “I always try to make sure we are working in a positive environment,” he says. “I try to make sure I am surrounded by the right people—those most qualified for the position, the most honest, the most trustworthy.”

“The motto of the company is, ‘Success is not the end of the line,'” Mr. Viret says.

“It is never over. We constantly have to anticipate, think, change and adapt to the new environments.”

Mr. Viret says Stago is playing the long game. “It is a very long journey that we, owners of a family business, try to transmit to the next generation,” he says. “That means that everything is thought, planned and executed with mid- and long-term strategies, even if it means earning less money than usual during a period of time in order to ensure its future.”

This piece is part of Innovation @ Adelphi from the Adelphi University Magazine Spring 2013 edition.


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