Lindsay Fleming Avient Corporation

Lindsay Fleming [Photo courtesy of Avient Corporation]

Lindsay Fleming is the Healthcare Commercial Manager for the Color & Additives division at Avient Corporation, a premier provider of specialty polymer formulations, color and additive systems, packaging solutions, and polymer distribution.

She has been with the company for over 7 years and oversees the commercial growth development of the healthcare segment. She focuses on fostering innovation, collaboration, and specification support for polymer color & additive technology solutions to satisfy unmet needs and challenges of medical device companies.

Lindsay received her bachelor of science in engineering and master of science degrees in chemical engineering from Arizona State University. Prior to joining Avient, she spent several years in the beverage manufacturing industry working as an engineering intern focused on continuous improvement initiatives.

What first drew you to medtech? When did you first know you wanted to be in the industry?
Growing up, I was surrounded by family in the healthcare space. I always had a love for science and innovation to improve the quality of life. My undergraduate and master’s education was in chemical engineering and I wanted to be able to use that foundation in my career. I was offered a position at Avient (formerly PolyOne) which immersed me into the medical device industry. I knew I would have the freedom to support the development of material solutions that make a difference in medtech. As time went on, I discovered a strong affinity for supporting the development and specification of materials used to produce medical devices.

What projects, past or present, have made you love what you do?
Fleming: The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly highlighted the importance of medical devices. Respiratory devices, remote patient monitoring systems, drug delivery devices and diagnostic equipment have been critical to patient care and sustaining life for those battling the virus. I take pride in knowing that our organization has supported the development of these types of devices that make a difference and save the lives of others.

What projects are you most looking forward to?
Fleming: I am always inspired by new projects and customers who engage us to innovate and address some of the key challenges facing their segments. From targeting specific efficacy requirements for anti-microbial applications to meeting stringent biocompatibility regulatory requirements, we see it all and are excited to participate in solving some of the most complex material problems. Challenge accepted!

What are some of the barriers women face in today’s medtech industry, if any?
I feel that the challenges women face in medtech are similar to those faced by women in other science and technology industries. More often than not, it seems there are fewer women that you are interacting with on a daily basis, especially in leadership roles, which can sometimes feel disheartening and perhaps lead to fewer women applying for these leadership positions.

It can also feel like the lack of women in leadership roles makes women in medtech feel that their voices or concerns may not be heard.  I think that expanding mentorship programs for women in medtech can help to improve and alleviate some of these issues moving forward.

Describe your biggest leadership challenge. How did you conquer it or resolve it, or what was the outcome?
Fleming: My biggest leadership challenge is probably one that has yet to be conquered. Motivating others and managing stress, especially in the environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been a significant and ongoing challenge. There are so many things outside the control of myself, our team and even our organization, it can be difficult to inspire others to navigate these situations.

Almost everyone has experienced some amount of burnout due to these circumstances, but reinforcing that our colleagues have an experienced team supporting them, and ensuring that they do not feel alone in the challenges they face, we work together to overcome these obstacles. I do all I can to set a good example for my team and be a source of optimism. By modelling the behaviors that will help ensure their success, and appreciating my team for their achievements, I feel that we can work through any challenges that we face.

Talk about your leadership skills. What is the most important lesson you have learned that has guided you in your career?
Fleming: I learned early in my career how valuable it is to build connections and meaningful relationships with other people. Whether it’s an employee, coworker, senior leader, or customer, it is important to value people for who they are and what they do.

Coming into the role, I felt that I needed to know and be able to do everything (and it was a bit overwhelming!).  But, simply by listening to others, I understood how each person contributes to the larger picture and I realized that trust and mutual respect are the key components to every successful team. Everyone you meet knows something that you do not know, so it is important to embrace your colleagues’ skills and knowledge to achieve success.

In your opinion, what more can be done to promote greater participation of young women in the medtech industry today?
Fleming: As Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” That’s not to say that there haven’t been tremendous strides over the past few years with women in medtech, but I think we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.

Starting at a young age, having girls engage in a diverse set of projects or activities is a great way to encourage passion, confidence, and curiosity for STEM related industries. From there, as young women develop through the course of their education, hands-on experiences (internships or co-ops) and strong role models can provide them with motivation, empowerment and a desire to continue to learn and grow.