Destined for a career in medical device engineering
Meet Erin Mortenson, a New Product Introduction Engineer at Smiths Medical, and Interim Programme manager in the Covid-19 SWAT team during the coronavirus pandemic.
Like mother like daughter
Erin and her mother joke that she ‘was destined for a career in medical device engineering’, after following in her footsteps. While many other kids grow up playing with lego or dolls, Erin loved playing with the sample devices her Engineer mother would bring home. Starting her desire to understand how things work from a very early age.
“It’s actually great to have a mum whose dealt with and understands my challenges. I can ask her: How do I navigate this situation? And learn from her experience.”
Erin is driven by her interest in anatomy and passion to help people, always aiming to keep patients’ needs top of mind. After studying Kinesiology (the study of body movement including physiological, biomechanical and psychological principles), Erin began her career at Smiths Medical moving across a range of roles.
“I’ve had wonderful opportunities to explore a variety of roles during my five years with Smiths Medical. After beginning as a Technician, I was given the opportunity to embark on an 18 month rotation across R&D, Lean and Continuous Improvement, New Product Introduction and the Quality team.”
She is also keen to expand her education and is currently studying towards a masters in Manufacturing Engineering and is due to finish next year.
Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Erin was working on introducing new products into the market, understanding how to meet customer needs by working with the R&D and Marketing teams. Because of the pandemic, she was asked to help with paraPACTM plus ventilator production.
“I received a call from our Smiths Medical CEO JehanZeb, talking about the need to set up the SWAT team and would I be a part of it. Increasing ventilator production at this scale is a large task and involves multiple workstreams spanning across divisions, countries and even companies. I help to connect all these multiple workstreams, facilitating across time zones, legal agreements, escalating issues and responding to production requirements.”
“Smiths Medical has set up entirely new supply chains as well as new manufacturing lines. It has been a huge collaborative effort, using our cross-functional expertise to ramp up production and distribution quickly and at scale.”
“Medical device production is more complicated than many others, having to incorporate quality and regulatory teams to ensure all products are safe for use.”
It’s been a huge learning curve and great experience. I tell myself, if we can get one more ventilator out, that can save or help just one more person, then all our efforts will be well worth it.”
Looking to the future
Erin continues to push herself and reflects on her career so far and future at Smiths Medical.
“I won’t be in this role forever and will at some stage go back into the NPI team. Whatever I am doing, I hope to always stay in touch with the products and remember what they are there for – to make a difference to the lives of human beings. It could be my mum, partner or future child. And I try to put that energy into whatever I’m doing and maintain that focus and passion.”
“I believe in the power of what we are doing to benefit people, not just now, but to help us to respond to future pandemics or different viruses and illnesses. That’s what medical devices are about.”
It’s a team effort
“Nothing I do can be done in isolation. I really want to recognise my co workers and the people I work with every day who are truly amazing. I have some great friends I’ve grown with over the last five years. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work at Smiths Medical with colleagues who do such incredible things every single day.”