Many people define success in monetary terms; but I think a true definition of success means more than that. How happy are you with your professional role and the impact you are making? How happy are you in your personal life with your family, friends, community? I’ve found that focusing on impact and satisfaction instead of focusing only on financial returns leads to real happiness. I once heard Jack Welch speak at a business forum in New York and was saddened when he admitted that his business took a real toll on his marriage and children. This really stuck with me as I navigated these competing priorities and I was determined to not make the same mistakes.
I had the pleasure to interview Dave Pierce. David A. Pierce is executive vice president and president, MedSurg, at Boston Scientific, a global medical technology leader. In this role, he has direct responsibility for the Urology and Pelvic Health and Endoscopy businesses, Canada and Latin America regions, and Corporate Marketing and Market Access. Prior to his current role, Mr. Pierce served as the Senior Vice President and President, Urology and Pelvic Health since July 2016. In that role, he developed and executed strategies to bring to market industry-leading solutions for treating patients with urological, urogynecological and gynecological diseases. Previously, Mr. Pierce served as senior vice president and president, Endoscopy since 2011, and vice president, Marketing for Endoscopy as well as group marketing director in the Endoscopy business. He joined Boston Scientific in 1991 as a territory manager before assuming management-level positions of increasing responsibility. Prior to joining Boston Scientific, Mr. Pierce also served as senior sales representative for Airborne Express and as a Captain in the United States Army. He received his B.S. in Business Administration from Norwich University and an M.B.A. from Boston University.
Thank you so much for joining us David! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?
Igrew up in Danvers, MA. I am the fifth of six children. My parents both worked full time. They both tried hard to be involved in all of our lives despite the challenges of managing six kids and work. I learned a lot from them in this respect. My parents are both still alive and I appreciate all they did for us.
Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?
I have been fortunate to have many strong role models/mentors in my career. After I had my first role at Boston Scientific headquarters as a product manager, I realized that I wanted to run a business at some point. A series of interactions with a former manager resulted in me creating a career plan that I held myself accountable to and it has been very effective.
Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?
Each year/quarter/month has its own cadence. There are multiple recurring commitments that are plugged into my calendar. Once you get that view, you can plan what you want to do with your unallocated time. I try to visit each global region at least twice per year and to set aside time for domestic customer and business partner visits. When I am in the office, my days are typically filled with meetings. When not in meetings I like to walk around and talk to the team. Engagement with team members at all levels is critical to staying current with the culture and the business.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?
I see not spending time with your children to be a real risk for both the parent and the child. Time and engagement are critical to the development of a relationship. Failing to establish the relationship could result in the child feeling isolated, acting out for attention or seeking validation elsewhere.
On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?
Spending time with your children is important for many reasons. First of all, it’s fun and rewarding for you. Second, it allows you to understand their interests, strengths, weaknesses and hopefully their friends. This is the foundation to your ability to guide, coach, develop and ensure your child is on a good path.
There’s a parallel here to leadership in other contexts. If your only interactions with someone are transactional, you aren’t getting to know them, so you won’t know their strengths — as a result, you’re not the strongest unit. But when you invest in time spent together and get to know each other, you also develop a shared history and language. That makes you stronger together, whether as a family or as a team.
According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?
For me, it’s about finding common interests or activities that you both enjoy as well as finding ways to instill positive values like giving back to the community. I had the opportunity over the course of 10–12 years to coach both of my sons in sports such as lacrosse, basketball and soccer. Driving to and from practice and games is an awesome time to connect and strengthen our relationships. They weren’t usually long talks — but they were talks at the right time, when the boys were a little more willing to open up.
We also volunteered once a month at a food pantry in Worcester for many years. Also, we have been fortunate to be able to take many great and active vacations and share a love for the environment. Lastly, we have a common bond in music that continues to this day and includes my father as well. Even though we are all in different locations at this point not a week goes by without one of the four of us sharing a text about a new song or artist that we have learned of.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention? Please include examples or stories for each, if you can.
The key is to actually develop a strategy and to communicate it with your family and professional associates. One helpful tool I use to manage expectations is a rolling four-month calendar to let everyone know when I had personal and professional commitments.
I also have a few personal non-negotiables such as taking a two week vacation each summer and really disconnecting during this time. I also do not travel on the weekends between mid-June and mid-September in order to maximize my time with family during the good weather. During non-traditional work hours, I let me team know that they can reach me via text or cell if there is an urgent challenge and that they should not expect an email to be returned immediately during this time. This keeps me and my team from being plugged in 24–7.
From a more holistic perspective, I encourage my team to say yes to help. That can take many different forms, but I think about things that can help manage pressures that build up at home so that you can focus your time and energy on what matters most to you. For example, Boston Scientific offers “Workflex” opportunities so that parents can be flexible about when and where their work gets done.
I took advantage of this flexibility when my boys played high school sports. I was committed to attending their games, which often meant being out of the office in the afternoons. That time on the sidelines cheering for my boys was priceless to me — but of course it didn’t obviate the need to execute on my priorities at work. My team knew that I would see things through, but the work would happen at a different time of day.
Many companies like Boston Scientific also offer other more tangible benefits, like a meal-planning service to help with the mundane “what’s for dinner?” When we’re less stressed, we’re more productive — and more fulfilled. So tap into the resources available to you — whether they come from an employer, a community center or your circle of friends and family.
How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?
A good parent provides support and ensures accountability. Support to me means being there to encourage, advocate and guide them on their journey. Accountability means ensuring that if/when they go off course that they understand the repercussions of their actions/inactions.
How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?
“Dream big” has a different definition for each person. I tried hard not to constrain my boys in imagining and pursuing their dreams. My oldest son is thriving out in Colorado balancing work with a passion for mountain biking and skiing. My youngest son is at University of New Hampshire pursuing his degree and working with his fraternity. They both have their individual passions and goals and as long as they are working towards those goals, they know I’ll support them.
How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?
Many people define success in monetary terms; but I think a true definition of success means more than that. How happy are you with your professional role and the impact you are making? How happy are you in your personal life with your family, friends, community? I’ve found that focusing on impact and satisfaction instead of focusing only on financial returns leads to real happiness.
I once heard Jack Welch speak at a business forum in New York and was saddened when he admitted that his business took a real toll on his marriage and children. This really stuck with me as I navigated these competing priorities and I was determined to not make the same mistakes.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
There are so many people around the world that are in need of basic necessities to live. I would love to see a movement that inspires those with more than they need to sacrifice regularly towards lifting up those in need.
As a parent, I tried to instill this in my sons and I’m extremely proud to work for a company that values giving back as well. In 2018, Boston Scientific contributed $81 million to medical research, educational and charitable giving and another $8.9 million in charitable contributions to support communities around the world. When we focus on the needs of others and how we can help, we can make a real impact — within our families as well as far beyond.