INTERNAL MOBILITY

Jennifer Olson, Senior VP and Managing Director, Doctor-Directed Consumer Channel, joined Align Technology in 2002. Over the last 15 years, her role and career path evolved and she shares her vision on internal mobility. 

How would you describe your career path at Align?  

When I joined 15 years ago, I never thought this would be a long-term career move, at the time I thought it was just an exciting sales job! However, as our company has grown, Align has afforded me opportunities that have been so dynamic, fulfilling and challenging at every step during this journey. 

It seems as though I have worked for several different companies in those 15 years, even though I have remained at Align. I started as a sales representative in the Chicago area, bringing on a new channel when we first started to sell the Invisalign system to general dentists. Over the years I’ve held a variety of positions within sales, business development and marketing, and two years ago began my current role of leading our new Doctor-Directed Consumer Channel.  

I believe in looking for opportunities to work on projects that stretch beyond your current capabilities, that quite honestly might make you uncomfortable. Those opportunities come with a commitment to deliver above and beyond the requirements of your current job. In doing so, you are rewarded with a great learning experience, both in your successes and failures, which are invaluable for future career growth. 

Why is internal mobility important?  

I believe it is my responsibility to retain our top talent and I’m committed to providing employees with opportunities to stretch beyond their current role. In my time here, when a member of my team has had aspirations for upward mobility at Align, I’m there to support by providing them stretch assignments and feedback, and also to help hold them accountable for their aspirations.  However, it is the employee’s responsibility to take advantage and to deliver on those opportunities.  In that manner, it is a shared responsibility.    

What recommendations would you have for ambitious individuals who would like to develop themselves in a fast and dynamic environment like Align?  

Don’t be afraid to speak to your manager about taking on extra projects and/or to ask how else you can contribute beyond the scope of your current role. This is one of the things I love about Align. We move fast, but that speed enables our business to create opportunities for you to take ownership of your career growth. I would recommend you put in the time, get feedback from your peers and your manager, challenge yourself, and be open to new opportunities.    

Any last recommendations for leaders?  

It is so important to continue nurturing the expertise in your organization, and to leverage the experience of new people who join the company as well. There is such strength to be had in diverse teams. 

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Territory Manager

Day in the Life

I’m proud to work for a company that is constantly evolving internally and externally with a global footprint. I consult with new customers who are seeking to integrate Invisalign or iTero products into their practice and help them achieve increased patient satisfaction and practice growth. I also partner with our customers to optimize integration of fundamentals into their practice workflow to better serve their patients. We promote this effort through role plays on various topics and company initiatives and strategy sessions to dive deeper into specific topics.    

In addition to interacting regularly with our General Practice and Orthodontic customers, I interact with Align Regional Managers, Area Sales Directors, various departmental managers, and team members. From tech teams and human resources, to inside sales, marketing and clinical teams, there’s never a day that I don’t learn something new from my colleagues. And the autonomy I find in my role is like no other at any job I’ve had before. Every bit of my job description has proven to be true, resulting in a level of loyalty, confidence, and hope in what my future looks like with a company that is truly changing the orthodontic space. I am blessed to have found a place where opportunity exists, development is a standard, and work-life balance is valued by my leaders. I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at in my life right now, and one of the main reasons is rooted in my opportunities here at Align!

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Manager, Sales Training

Singing on the job? That’s right! Rob has had some incredibly unique opportunities while working with Align.  

Rob started his career at Align in 2014 as a Territory Manager in the UK. After successfully growing his territory, Align recognized the need for additional training support for sales and other internal teams. Rob had the opportunity to become Align’s first Clinical Sales Trainer in Europe.    

Today, Rob is leading the sales training team for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region as part of the sales excellence function. His goal is to develop and deliver world-class training programs for sales teams in local markets throughout EMEA. According to Rob, “This is one of the most challenging and rewarding roles I’ve ever had.” 

In addition to teaching and developing sales capability, Rob enjoys working with his team to help them achieve their goals and those of the company.   In addition to his work at Align, Rob has a great passion and talent for singing. He was able to share this talent on stage together with other Align musicians during the EMEA sales conferences in Cannes, France and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Rob described these experiences as, “Some of the happiest and most enjoyable things I’ve ever done”. Rob also enjoys a game of cricket, reading books and watching his all-time favorite sport, boxing.    

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Associate Manager, Clinical Support

In China, a tea-loving orthodontist left his practice and found success advising Invisalign doctors on treatment plans for patients.  

Teddy was born in China’s Guizhou province and moved to Chengdu in 2008 to go to the West China School of Stomatology at Sichuan University. With a Master’s degree in orthodontics, he started his career as orthodontist in a clinic. “During an Invisalign Forum, I realized there is such a bright future for Invisalign treatment. I applied for a job and left the practice”. Teddy explains that this was a very difficult decision to make, as the working environment was completely different. While it was a major change for Teddy to switch and adapt from a practice to a corporate environment, he’s happy with his decision to move to Align. “The best thing about my job is educating doctors about how to use Invisalign clear aligners. I truly believe that our training provides a deeper understanding of our brand and our products, which allows them to provide better treatments to patients”.    

Teddy’s role involves handling clinical-related issues, internal and externally in China. He is also responsible for training doctors. He teaches doctors how to treat patients with Invisalign clear aligners and how to communicate with Align’s CAD Designers. He is also taking care of internal trainings for his colleagues. He works closely with several departments including Clinical, Marketing and Sales.    

In his personal life, Teddy is a connoisseur of tea and is involved in cultural traditions centered around appreciation for tea. Teddy’s hometown in Guizhou is rich in green tea. Teddy grew up with tea and drinks at least one cup every day. “I love how the taste changes, at first a bit bitter and then it tastes sweet”. In China, many people see tea drinking as a social activity- sharing time with friends and having the opportunity to share happiness as well as sorrow. “Tea ceremonies are also common, but I prefer to keep it simple. I feel the atmosphere is more important than the actual ritual”. Reflecting on his love for tea, Teddy laughs and describes how his friends always say he’s full of energy during the day but during evenings they compare him to antiquities, because he enjoys drinking tea and reading books.     

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Customer Success Manager

Day in the Life

I find it exciting to be part of a company that is growing and changing so quickly – there is no place for boredom here! Every day is a challenge because we have very ambitious goals. I am proud to work in a company surrounded by so many talented individuals who encourage you to improve on a daily basis and who are always willing to help and share ideas!    

I am responsible for managing the Customer Care Team, ensuring that our doctors receive effective responses to their questions. Above all, we work to guarantee that their experience with Invisalign products and the support we provide is of the same great quality as our products.    

One of the Customer Care Team’s biggest achievement last year was to incorporate iTero support into our existing workload in Spain. Thanks to the incredible effort of the team, time dedicated to trainings, and meticulous monitoring of each incident, we continued to support customers and to deliver the highest levels of customer support.    

I love my job because in addition to helping our customers, I have the opportunity to interact with many different people, from my own team to sales people, clinical advisors, marketing and office managers, teams at the headquarters – the chance to learn new things is infinite! Additionally, this interaction provides me with a broader view of the company, which allows me to do my job better.   

I personally believe in the power of a smile and that a smile is the prettiest thing you can wear. What a pleasure to work in a company with such an innovative technology that helps people feel happier with their smiles!     

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Associate Manager, Field Marketing

Day in the Life

Working at Align means being a part of something meaningful and exciting! In my role, I help organize educational events and collect market feedback from our customers. Doctors I meet are consistently very interested in learning more about Invisalign treatment. They try to attend every course we offer and ask questions ranging from technical details to how to better help their patients. Their enthusiasm to learn more about Invisalign treatment is motivating, and it inspires me to help provide better options for their patients.   

Each day at Align offers opportunities to provide solution to new challenges. When I hear the positive responses from customers who have enjoyed our life-changing products, it underscores that my job is truly making a difference. My experiences at Align have taught me how to embrace new challenges, while working to help create a better tomorrow.   

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GP CHANNEL

Abhishek Ganguly, Vice President GP Channel of Core Europe joined Align Technology in May 2015 and shares his knowledge on the GP business, needs and strategy of the core European market.  

How would you describe your career path at Align?  

The past two and a half years at Align have been extremely enriching and rewarding for me. There is never a dull moment at Align; there is always plenty to do and lots to learn. That is what I look for when I choose a role or a company. We should never stop learning and joining Align has helped me fulfil that.  

I’ve never managed a sales organization before. Align gave me the opportunity to lead an entire business unit for EMEA without having prior sales experience because it valued the other abilities that I brought to the table vs just focusing on the relevant experience. This shows the development and career opportunities that are available at Align if you’re up for it; if you have the right skills and abilities to support that and the passion to try new and different things. Align is an exceptionally fast growing business and with this business growth comes many opportunities for personal advancement.   

Why a specific focus on the GP channel in Core Europe?  

In our main European markets, which are similar to many country markets across the world, GP and Ortho customers are different, their needs are different and hence the solutions we need to create for them should be different. Straightening teeth is the daily job for orthodontists while this is not the case for GP’s. In an established channel like Ortho, we have to facilitate the choice of the product between wire and brackets and aligners. In newer channels like the GP channel, we have to introduce a new therapy to the doctors. These require fundamentally different approaches and as a result, it makes sense to split these channels in core European markets to accord due focus to this very important nuance. Moreover, both channels have massive potential, which requires us to dedicate focus so we can maximize realization of the opportunities.    

How do we build our presence in the GP Channel in Europe?  

Laying a strong foundation is critical. Any strategy is built on a strong foundation and to me this means having a dedicated team in place as a first. The next step is to have efficiency in the processes we employ. We have to cover lot more customers, across many countries with different cultures which means we need to be much more efficient. Building efficiency is crucial and you do this successfully by leveraging digital technologies and by having an efficient selling process that the Europe region can leverage.    

How do you lead in a new role?  

“Passion for Results, Compassion for People”. This is what I tell my team regularly. My biggest emphasis with my team is on personal accountability. We are leaders of our own functions, while our scopes might be different, we are still all leaders. We need to be accountable for our deliverables and take ownership every day.   

Furthermore, it’s important to build trust by empowering people to take action. You give them the responsibility, you trust them with this responsibility and then you let them run with it but you hold them accountable. I strongly believe that this creates a culture of accountability, self-motivation and trust.    

Can you share lessons learned from leadership approaches you used in the past?  From what I’ve seen and learned in the past, it doesn’t work when leaders don’t make the distinction between delegation and simply offloading work. Delegation is about development, about giving your team something that they can learn from. Leaders can go wrong when they confuse delegation with offloading.  

Another lesson learned is the importance of empathy and compassion. If you treat people with respect, things become easier, and difficult conversations occur less often. No matter what the situation is, never lose sight of the fact that you need to treat people with empathy, compassion and respect.    

Any last recommendations for other leaders?  

Firstly, stay honest and humble and be there for your team when they need your guidance and support. You should make an effort to listen to your team’s genuine concerns and strive hard to have them addressed. 

Secondly, I’d like to share one of my favorite quotes of Stephen Covey: “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall”. I think this is very relevant for all leaders. Leadership is about empowering people and giving them the support to achieve bigger and greater things.  

From an Align perspective, we are demonstrating exceptional performance. If you’d like to think differently, if you are willing to push yourself and you’re not afraid of stretching above and beyond then Align may be the right place for you. 

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HUMAN RESOURCE PERSPECTIVE

Stuart Hockridge, Senior Vice President Global Human Resources, joined Align Technology in May 2016 and shares his experience with the people and environment of Align today.  

What is your HR philosophy?  

I truly believe people can be great at what they do. Our role as HR is to create an environment that allows people to be as great as they want to be. If we do this successfully, then the business will achieve what they want to achieve from a strategic and performance perspective.    

How do you create such environment?  

There are a few key elements   

1. Start with hiring and onboarding effectively. That’s especially true in our business which is focused on growth 2. Understand the capabilities you need at all times in order to be successful in the market 3. Ensure you have the right leaders and managers by focusing on great hiring and great development…when businesses change and when the external market changes then the capabilities that the leaders and managers need will also change.   4. Finally, have a keen focus on organization design. Always look for ways in which work can flow more seamlessly and where things can be simplified and focused    

Everyone in Human Resources, no matter what they do, is involved and instrumental in one or more of these components. It’s impossible to optimize the environment when one of these pieces is missing.    

What does this mean for an employee or a candidate?  

It depends on what motivates them and in what stage of life they are. In my opinion, there are a few key things that make us unique in the medical device industry. To begin with, we are growing extensively in all areas – and that will be new for many employees who join our business. Given our rate of growth, new experiences are being constantly created. It would be difficult to find another company that gives you the opportunity to experience that in the way that Align does. 

In addition, in a sense every job grows with the company. As long as you perform well in your current position and engage with your manager on what you would like to achieve, there will likely be opportunities for you. If you are interested in learning new things and getting new experiences and you take the time to invest in that discussion and dialogue with your manager, then you are likely going to be able to do those things.    

How would you describe Align’s culture?  

There are a couple of things that make Align what it is today. It is a welcoming company. People are genuinely nice. They are passionate about the product and services that we provide because they know it makes a different in people’s lives. With that comes an overall family feel about the business. There is genuine recognition of the idea that we are all in this together and we want to win together. It’s been a legacy, this environment in Align, that I think will continue as the company grows.  

Every company envisions a certain culture that you need to have in order to be and remain successful. In our culture this means you are agile, quick to respond, quick thinkers, focused on customer, and accountable for very high standards in performance. I think we’re in a very good place regarding the culture that we need to have and sustain.    

What recommendations would you have for ambitious individuals who would like to develop themselves in a fast and dynamic environment like Align? 

It’s important to sustain a high level of performance and contribution within your existing job. Besides this I’d emphasize the importance of networking. Make sure you are known by key stakeholders as someone that is good at their job, has a good attitude and is good to work with. What will happen is that managers will think of you when they look for a team member. This doesn’t mean that you will get the job right away, because of course there are internal processes, but it does put you at an advantage. No doubt about it. 

There is also a group of people who are happy to do their job and are less interested in hierarchical promotions. Even in this scenario, you’ve always got to consider what more can you do next year than the year before. If you hold true to the principle that the contributions of all individuals in the company, comprise the overall company performance, we all have to ask ourselves: What can I do to be more effective? How do I do to continue to grow? If you don’t keep growing then the company may grow past you and that’s not in anyone’s best interest.

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Manager, Simulation Software

Today he has a PhD in Computer Science, but Manlio says, “I never touched a computer until I was eighteen years old.”

Manlio has a PhD in Computer Science, always liked math, but never touched a computer until he was eighteen years old. He knew he wanted to be an Engineer but it took some time before he realized he loved the mix of electrical engineering and software engineering. Manlio really enjoys working in the medical device industry. “It’s a rewarding job, knowing that the outcome of my job will affect people in a good way”. Prior to working for Align, Manlio worked for two other medical device companies. He has experience in automatic detection of cancer and radiotherapy. Why consider a change after nearly ten years with his previous employer? “When I saw the job ad for a research developer, I felt it matched with the next steps I wanted to pursue”.    

After several career growth opportunities within Align over the past few years, Manlio currently leads a team of 3D simulation software engineers. “I never thought there would be so much science behind Invisalign, particularly in the area of simulation. This will be an important part of how products will be developed and that makes me excited about the future with Align,” says Manlio. The team develops orthodontic treatment simulation algorithms, to optimize the Invisalign product and increase the applicability of Invisalign treatment. The team is part of Product Innovation, and works in close cooperation with mechanical engineering, clinical and material sciences teams. Manlio explains that using simulation will allow Align to provide even better solutions for patients in the future.   

Outside the office, Manlio likes to travel with his family and three kids. His wife is Spanish and they visit Europe frequently. “My favorite place is Italy, not just for the incredible architecture but also for food and people”. Today, traveling is more about relaxing and spending time with family. In the past, Manlio travelled extensively, both for work and for leisure. Except Australia, he has been to all other continents. He loved exploring Peru, which he visited when he was younger.

As for travel advice, “Travel by yourself at least once,” Manlio recommends. “When I was twenty-three I traveled for one month around Europe by train. I had a hard time being alone and this trip pushed me to talk to other people,” says Manlio. He learned a lot about himself and other cultures. For him, it was a tremendous opportunity to grow on a personal level.   

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Invisalign Pro Program Specialist

Day in the life

I have been in customer service my entire career, addressing customer issues and creating solutions. Our department focuses on keeping our customers informed about our products and services to prevent any issues or complaints. By forward thinking, we support our customer from beginning to end, ensuring better outcomes and experiences.     

As a supervisor of a fast-growing team, I am focused on developing an efficient team that can effectively meet our customers’ needs. I’m involved in both hiring and training new employees and collaborating with team members on policies and best practices. In addition, I coordinate with our Costa Rica clinical team on scheduling and customer concerns and help integrate iPro technology in all departments. Moreover, we have a culture that really makes us love coming to work. I have heard our team say things like, “I don’t need to rush out of here; I like it here.” I am happy knowing that my team enjoys coming to work. 

Along with incredible opportunities for advancement, Align offers great benefits. With three young children, the flexibility my position offers to me is very important. It feels good knowing that I work for a company that cares for its employees and their families. I’m proud to tell people where I work. I have even recruited a few friends to join me!     

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Sr. Supervisor, Customer Care

Day in the Life

In my role at Align, every day is different. I like to see myself as a facilitator as I work to provide solutions for my team, including scheduling, providing team feedback to assure customer satisfaction, training, and improving our program to meet our customers’ specific needs. Our department maintains an open channel of communication with our customer service team to ensure continued success. Each day I strive to show my team that I care about them. Through their mentoring and leadership by example, I have learned how to do things more effectively and efficiently.   

Align is like a second family to me. It feels like home. I‘ve worked at Align for 14 years, starting as a technician so I feel as if I’ve grown up here. Software now automatically performs time-consuming manual tasks, the manufacturing process is more automated, and processes are more standardized, greatly improving our product delivery time to our customers. It’s a thrill to see some of the changes, and I am thrilled to have the privilege to assist so many people.    

Align has definitely helped me become a better professional by providing the support and guidance to learn how to lead more competently and how to serve others better. I had the opportunity to improve my English when I was younger, which I believe helped create the opportunity to move to a different department. I like the environment and I feel so fortunate to be part of this company. At Align, you will definitely need to work hard but the opportunities are worth it.    

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Accountant

In Gaming and Accounting, Teamwork is a Winning Combination for Ken. 

Originally from Malaysia, Ken is an Accountant for Australia and New Zealand. In addition to managing accounting functions, he is also involved in procedure and system improvements to increase efficiency in the business and streamline accounting processes. “I enjoy the Business Partner aspect of my job, where I work together with other departments like HR and Marketing to discuss cost analysis and budgeting”. Ken didn’t have this opportunity in previous jobs, having worked in companies where departments and jobs were more segmented. When Ken found the posting at Align, he immediately applied. His current manager made quite an impact during his interview process―“When my manager explained his way of working, I was thrilled knowing that I share his vision for what a working environment should be”.    

When he joined Align, Ken was singularly focused on learning the job; however, Align has a collaborative work environment. “Today, my colleagues, or some I would refer to as friends, often tell me I talk too much,” said Ken laughing.    

During his time at university, Ken was a video game enthusiast, and was once proclaimed #1 Rogue in Oceanic in the online game World of Warcraft. “I had a YouTube channel where I shared gameplay videos for the gaming community, so they could improve their skills and understand the game better”, explained Ken. In addition to his accomplishments in World of Warcraft, Ken also finished #20 in his favorite video game, FIFA 17 ‘Rest of the World’ leaderboards.     

“I believe all sports, including electronic sports, bring people together. Playing as well as working on a team gives me more satisfaction because of the interaction with others.”    

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ADAPTABLE LEADERSHIP

Yuval Shaked, SVP & Managing Director iTero, joined Align Technology in June 2017 and shares his personal story of adapting to a new leadership role in a new company.  

Why did you choose to work for Align? 

There are a several reasons. The first being the company’s growth potential. Throughout my career in leadership, this is the first time in which I feel we are still just scratching the surface in terms of our market penetration and customer adoption of our products. 

The second is the culture. When I met the team for the first time, it felt open, enabling and inspiring. After being here for some time, it has further reinforced my assessment.   

The third is the size of the company. In larger companies, there is often too much complexity and too many layers. With smaller companies, you don’t always have the resources to do things. At Align, we are right at a point where we have the resources to execute better and more broadly.   

How would you describe your leadership style?  

My leadership style is to adapt to the situation. In areas where I feel like we have the right capabilities in place, I’ll be an enabler and a coach, helping the team process situations and remove roadblocks. In areas where we don’t yet have the right capabilities, I would focus more on the details, acting more as the driver while helping to build the needed capabilities.  

In terms of inspiring a team, I like to encourage people to think big. I ask my team: ‘What would it look like if there were no limitations? If we have a vision, and we take out the limitations, it gets much easier to see the bigger picture. Thinking and dreaming big is part of the culture at Align. 

Being new to the business gives you a fresh perspective. Can you share some of the challenges you face?  

Trying to learn a new culture, processes, team dynamics and people is always a challenge when joining a new business. Specifically, the iTero business has grown significantly in the last few years, which is amazing. At the same time, the challenge is scaling. How do we keep the good things in our DNA that brought us here? But at the same time, how do we make the changes that are necessary to get to the next level?    

Can you share lessons learned from leadership approaches you used in the past?  

I think it is very important to tailor the solution to the situation. There is such a high risk if you try to copy and paste a previous approach which was made for a different organization with a different culture and environment.  

I also want to make sure that we have the right capabilities and the right culture. My leadership approach when coming into a business is setting the strategy and clarifying priorities and then building the right capabilities and team around it.     

Could you share any tips or cautions for other new leaders or experienced leaders who are new to an organization? 

It is important to watch and listen in the beginning. Try to absorb and learn before you draw conclusions. Specifically, at Align, know that everyone is willing to support you in getting to know the business. People want to help and make you successful, so I would recommend to take advantage of this and enjoy the ride.

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Sr. CI Program Manager

Day in the Life

Problems are opportunities for improvement. As a Sr. Continuous Improvement Program Manager, I serve as a facilitator for change within operational and clinical improvement teams. The focus is to improve organizational goal achievement in customer experience, quality, employee engagement, and waste reduction. I also collaborate with organizational leaders to encourage employees to generate ideas that improve our process, methodologies and protocols. We develop new alternatives that help us to find better ways to do things. Our customers can see the value of the product we create and every effort we make to positively impact the customer experience.   

I love my job because every day I build upon a new perspective, which forces me to seek personal improvement. Each day, my position shows me that change is good, and we should strive to be better. Align provides the opportunity to learn, develop skills and access the support I need to be successful. The company also provides me with a stronger self-awareness while enabling me to develop many of the current positions and processes within the business. I’m just so amazed with the leadership and team members. Their dedication and talents are all truly inspirational!    

When I arrived at Align, I thought of staying just a few months until I found a “better” job. Today, I can’t even begin to describe how grateful I am to continue with this company. These 15 years have definitely been the best of my life.     

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Fellow Platform Architect

A passion for desert tranquility and a love for applied mathematics and programming? You really can have both.  

In the last sixteen years at Align, Adi has seen tremendous transformation both within Align and in the industry. Adi has a background in applied mathematics and has loved programming since he was around twelve years old. This is a powerful combination, and he used these skills to specialize in 3D programming. It sounds strange now, but Adi learned about Cadent (acquired by Align in 2011) through a job ad in a newspaper in 2002. Back then, he only had seventeen colleagues.    

Now, he has over 10,000 colleagues around the globe. Adi describes Align’s acquisition of Cadent as a great benefit for Align, Cadent, customers and patients. “It’s amazing to see Align grow, to see improvements in workflows and benefits for our customers and patients”. Adi decided that after doing mathematics for fifteen years at Align and having experienced the growth of the iTero business, it was time for a change.    

Today, Adi is responsible for software architecture at Align. On a daily basis, he’s working on distributed systems, with diverse inquiries like opening a treatment planning facility in a new location, exploring data flows and looking at the ways we store data. “This role has pulled me into a whole new world of software engineering”. Adi explains that every few years, he feels like he needs a new challenge. To him, this means that change now and then is a good thing and so far he has been satisfied with the opportunities that have come along to further develop professionally. “This is my main reason for staying with Align”, states Adi.   

One of Adi’s favorite things to do outside work is to travel to the desert. The southern half of Israel is desert and it’s a great getaway. Sometimes Adi follows a guided meditation class. “When the guide says I should imagine a place where I’m happy, which is perfect, the only place that comes to my mind is the desert”. Adi describes the desert as a peaceful place, where it’s quiet and you can feel the emptiness.    

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Associate Manager, iTero Training

Day in the Life

As a market leader, Align Technology’s cutting-edge technology provides me, as an employee, the opportunity to help change people’s lives through a better smile. In my role, I provide product training to our customers – primarily dentists and dental assistants – to demonstrate how the iTero scanner can help them develop and further expand their practices. As a professional trainer prior to joining Align, I thought the training program at Align would be no different from any other.  I have discovered, however, that customer training here is just as innovative as our products. For example, Align uses virtual classroom training for its iTero intraoral scanner. We make full use of the digital technology available today to assist doctors in implementing iTero scanners in their practices. Hearing about our customers’ positive experiences encourages me that this is an effective platform for training.  

With increased business growth, my role has expanded from regional marketing activities to supporting dental labs as well. I have opportunities to understand the industry, interact with our customers and help the business grow. I love sharing our technology, products and new developments which are impacting everyday dentistry with our customers, and enabling them to help others achieve a better smile.     

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Customer Experience Manager

Day in the Life

Working at Align has provided me with a great learning experience. As a Customer Experience Manager, I continually focus on improving our customers’ overall experience with Align. I actively work with the commercial and operational teams in Europe and the Middle East (EMEA) to understand all customer interactions with Align. I request and utilize direct customer feedback and leverage this information into knowledge, insights and actions. My team strives to provide a great experience for our customers, earn their trust, and ensure their satisfaction, so they will recommend Align products and services to others.

My work challenges me to become the best version of myself because I’m always learning something new. The company’s rapid growth, success, and vision of enhancing people’s lives through beautiful smiles make me very proud to work for Align. 

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NURTURING TALENT

Kamal Bhandal, VP, Global Brand & Consumer Experience, joined Align Technology in 2013 and shares her vision on the importance of nurturing talent in today’s competitive professional world.      

Why is nurturing talent important?  

I believe this is the most important thing we need to do as leaders. At the end of the day, employees are the ones that set a company up for future success – our company. As leaders, we need to help people discover their potential, listen to their ideas on what’s working and how we can improve. We need to ask ourselves: how do we unleash the talent that we have and provide a culture for them that allows them to learn and grow? How do you maximize their strengths?  

The other important piece for leaders is not only to look at people as individuals, but to nurture your team as a whole. Leaders often think about talent on an individual basis, but it is more expansive than that.     

Is there a particular skill set or approach you see as critical to being successful in nurturing talent?  

I would say the most important thing is that each leader needs to understand how important team success is and the positive results it will bring to a team, to the department and in the end, the entire organization. To me, it’s a belief. It’s how I personally try to operate every day.  Often times, as leaders we can underestimate the power of team success. Everyone is busy with competing priorities, and focus on the team can slip. I’m guilty of this myself sometimes. Though allowing this to happen as a leader will be detrimental to the team as well as to each individual. 

A second critical skill would be to identify when chemistry within a team is not quite right. Leaders should diagnose what the personal differences or possible issues are and act immediately. If you don’t recognize how your team interacts…if there is a chemistry problem, in time, it could harm your talent and team. It is so important to diagnose and remedy this.    

What change have you seen over the last few years regarding nurturing talent?  

Over the last 4 years, Align Technology has grown significantly. It has become clearer that our focus on our people is critical. We have continued to mature in how we operate, and we are maturing spotlighting our people better. As a company, we have very ambitious goals. We have seen that the success that enables our future growth, the key to our success, will lie in the talent, efforts and ambition of our employees and how strong and successful those people are.     

What would your recommendation be to other leaders?  

People, and especially talented individuals, can choose to work anywhere. For us as leaders, the most important thing that we can realize is that we all have the power to create an environment where work can become more than just work...we have the power to create an environment that talented individuals want to be a part of. I think that happens when you are focused on nurturing the talent you have, both at an individual and at a team level. We have the power to create an environment that, if done right, can have a greater purpose. We may not be able to achieve it every single day, though we should try. People can choose to work anywhere and it’s our job as leaders to ensure that we create a culture where the most talented people want to work.    

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Director, Strategic Sourcing and Category Management

Day in the Life

 I am responsible for our Indirect Strategic Sourcing group, a small but growing team within the Align supply chain that supports all non-product or non-material supplier requirements (e.g. IT software, marketing agencies, etc.). When a need arises for an external (supplier) solution, my team identifies potential suppliers, evaluates them, and negotiates pricing and contract terms. We also help manage the supplier relationship once we’ve initiated a project. I spend the majority of my time interacting with our internal business partners to understand their priorities, and with suppliers to manage their performance, develop bids, and develop our sourcing skills globally.    

I love my role because we support all the functions at Align. We must understand what our business partners and company do and need in order to communicate this information effectively to the supplier base. This critical understanding provides us with an opportunity to touch and influence a wide portion of the company. I love working at Align Technology. Rarely does one have the good fortune to engage in such interesting work within a company growing at such a rapid pace, where everybody is incredibly energized and willing to help each other.    

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Country Manager Turkey

Going the Extra Mile at Work and for Animals in Need.  

Evren joined Align Technology as Country Manager for Turkey in April 2018. He has worked in similar size companies before but “starting up the business in Turkey for Align has been a completely different experience”. Evren found that he has the opportunity to make his own decisions even if they are different from what Align has done in other locations. “There is a huge opportunity. Every market is different and we need to localize our global strategy”.    

Evren describes the size of Align as a global giant, but the mentality and spirit is very different: “Align feels likes its very young and in a development stage. The company is eager to do different things but also open to learning. It’s an ambitious company that gives employees positive motivation to move forward and empowers its people to be agile. What is not changing is the change itself”. Evren has experience working in the medical device industry and learned more about Align while conducting market research. He always thought Align would be an interesting company to work for, but it took a few years before Align launched direct Sales in Turkey and the right job opportunity came along.    

One unique aspect of Evren’s role is that he has the opportunity to influence company culture in Turkey as the organization grows. Evren’s colleagues describe him as an ambitious, positive thinker who always asks, “Why?” On the other hand, his family describes him as less serious as they have watched his passion for his career at Align grow. “I’m willing to go that extra mile as I really want Align to be successful”.    

On a personal note, Evren is a true animal lover. He is a volunteer for animal rights and helps stray animals wherever he can. “I carry extra dog and cat food in my trunk. Whenever I come across an animal in need I like to help them”. Evren explains there are different needs in different times. Some days he goes to the shelter to feed animals, and he personally supports animal rights efforts. He also uses his network to help find adoptive families for animals that are brought to shelters.    

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MANUFACTURING EXPANSION

Emory Wright, Senior Vice President Global Operations, joined Align Technology in 2000 and has been at the forefront of our manufacturing expansion.  

Can you share some of the milestones we had over the last two years regarding manufacturing expansion?  

In addition to our facility continuing to expand to support greater capacity and manufacturing close to 300,000 custom aligners each day, we also opened a new order acquisition (OA) and two treatment planning operations, one in China and one in Germany – all of which were big milestones for us and “firsts” in over 15 years. Moving resources, technology, and processes closer to our customers and improving their experience is at the center of our expansion efforts.  

Our first Order Acquisition operation, located in Mexico, receives incoming physical PVS or “putty” impressions that get scanned and form the basis of our Invisalign digital treatment plans. In 2016, we opened a second Order Acquisition operation in Amsterdam. Adding a central European location is designed to provide a better customer experience, eliminating the long transit time in shipping a physical PVS impression from an EMEA-based Invisalign provider to Mexico and shortening the cycle time for our customers.  

An even bigger milestone was accomplished this past June (2017), when we opened a Treatment Planning and Training Center in Chengdu, China, the second location outside our initial Costa Rica treatment planning operation. The new operation in Chengdu provides treatment planning and digital case setups for orthodontists and dentists in China who prescribe Invisalign clear aligners, clinical and customer support, as well as training and education. Later in September, we opened our third Treatment Planning facility in Cologne, Germany to support our EMEA customers.  

Our operational expansion initiative is enabling us to better support our growing global customer base by providing a better customer experience, more localized support and overall service. We are still working towards completing the expansion and fully transitioning processes at the China and Germany locations, but we have received positive feedback from our customers to date. It is tremendous to see our global vision being realized.   

Is there a particular skill set or approach you see as critical to being successful in our aggressive global expansion?  

In my view, the most critical skill sets are knowledge and experience within a region. It is critical for us to hire people that have a deep understanding of their region. It is also critical that we pair new leaders with internal people who have a deep understanding of our technology, products, and process. During the expansion efforts, we ensure our new leaders spend sufficient time learning our operations and business, and we connect them with teams of experts to ensure we can be successful in the technology transfer to a new team. Given that we will naturally run into unplanned obstacles, these efforts require our new and existing teams to be flexible and agile.     

Can you share your vision on the transition to a global company? 

In the past, most of what we did from an operations perspective was viewed through a North American lens, where we are headquartered and started our business. Even though we support a growing global customer base, much of our thinking has historically centered around a North American perspective. Over the last few years, our efforts to get closer to our customers and move our processes closer to our global customers has broadened the team’s perspective. Moreover, it has enabled a significant amount of learning and change which has led to an appreciation for the differences in the regions, countries, and markets. This education has enabled us to think differently about what we do and how we support the different customer needs, and has driven significant change in how we approach our different customers.    

What change have you seen in the leadership team over these last years?  

In my ten years since joining the executive team, we have placed a much greater emphasis on the global nature of our business. The executive team routinely travels to different regions to talk to customers and meet with local teams to see and learn what has worked, and what challenges and opportunities for improvements are present. By visiting the regions often, we know better how we can direct investments and resources to better support and enable our global business. In addition, we have a diverse team with different international perspectives. I believe that the global mix of the executive team helps drive the acceleration of change in our business.    

Can you share lessons learned from these manufacturing expansion experiences?  

In retrospect, I would have hired the leaders in local sites much sooner. When we started planning and executing our expansion efforts, we were organizing our local leaders simultaneously which, in hindsight, may have started us out at a slight disadvantage. It would have been great to have them come in and be trained earlier and be more involved in the initial planning stages. 

Another lesson we learned was to have more extensive contingency plans. Planning the transition of our processes and workflows and that of our doctors from one place to another and how to ramp up in one site and ramp down in another was a known challenge. Yet, even with all the planning that took place, it was difficult to fully anticipate all possible scenarios. We learned from our first transition with the China based operation and made improvements with our Germany operation. Overall, what is key to success is improving with each step. Knowing there is always room for improvement, especially with our customers. 

I am glad to share that we are seeing the benefits of our expansion efforts. We are seeing faster lead times and better customer interactions with the local operational teams. And we will continue to improve and better connect with our customers to provide the highest level of service.     

What would your recommendation be to other leaders?  

Be open to opportunities that aren’t comfortable. Be willing to take career risks that might be uncomfortable. Make it a priority to work hard for the company.     

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Associate Director, Portfolio

Whether it’s moving to a city sight-unseen, finishing a running event or branding a new product, Rachel loves to find success in new challenges.  

Rachel has moved several times in her career journey between Japan and Australia and has extensive experience in both pharma and medical device industries. “I already knew some people at Align, and when this career opportunity came, I thought – this is perfect”. Rachel’s decision to move to Align wasn’t just a career move. She decided to live in a city that she had never even visited. “I experienced culture shock in Japan but I knew I would be okay in Europe. You never hear anything bad about Amsterdam, and I was convinced that making my next move there was the right thing for me”. Rachel has settled in, bought a bike and made good friends.   

Since joining Align, Rachel has learned: “You need to be willing to fail. If you are used to an environment where you have a lot more time to perfect things, you will need to learn how to adjust”. Additionally, you’ll constantly need to keep learning on the job. Certain projects force you to learn because you need to become an expert. “It’s such a fast paced and growing company, a great environment for career growth”.    

Rachel works with brand management, which consists of many different elements. “Align recently launched a new version of Invisalign Go and we are releasing innovative updates regularly, which requires extensive planning. We’re working with European countries on commercialization and training to ensure we have created sufficient momentum in the local markets to ensure our customers know what’s available to them,” Rachel explains. Another part of her job is overseeing planning for big events, such as the International Dental Show (IDS).    

Outside of the office, Rachel loves running, yoga and crossfit. She started running when she was in university and still goes for a run every week. “The best thing about running is that you can do it anywhere, even when you’re on a business trip”. She is the type of runner that goes out no matter the weather. “In Japan I was part of a running club – we would even run in the snow”. Rachel ran 8km as part of the Amsterdam marathon together with other Align employees. She worked on the planning to organize the run and get Align employees involved as well. “I’m happy with my run. I enjoyed the support of colleagues and the crowd. I will definitely train properly for the next one and we’ll start recruiting for more Align participants for sure”.    

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Territory Manager

Day in the Life

At Align, each day offers something different – new customers, challenges, technological innovation, and company changes – all of which are very exciting. Every customer I meet is unique, which requires customized planning to meet their needs. On a daily basis, I interact with our Customer Care and Clinical teams and work to ensure the continued success of our customers through the support we provide them. At Align, our support network is unique – the entire team works together like one big family. The customers have noticed how well we collaborate with each other and have expressed their appreciation of how well we work together to support them.   

I love my job at Align! While the work is fast-paced and sometimes unexpected in nature, I have learned to adapt to achieve my goals. Align offers the opportunity for growth, while challenging you to become the best at what you do. The opportunities here have benefitted both my scope of knowledge and my life outside the company. I look forward to future opportunities to continue learning and know that other opportunities await.    

Customers always ask me, Why am I so passionate about our products? The simple answer is: Because I believe in our products.     

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