Academics

Laurence Birch, Imparts Knowledge

10/16/2017

By Maci Killman

Alexandra and Laurence
Alexandra Hendrickson with Laurence Birch

Laurence Birch, founder and, until recently, CEO of Evolve Audiology Group, spoke on Oct. 4 at the Global Speaker Series. Describing himself as a “finance guy,” Birch has spent a lot of his career as a serial CEO of healthcare and medical technology companies. He attended the University of Illinois and received his MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School before joining Baxter Healthcare. Birch compared Baxter Healthcare’s culture and values to a fraternity or sorority; Baxter Healthcare and other large companies have the opportunity to “bring people together.” The company accomplished that and helped him jump-start his career.Birch

As Birch acquired different careers, he came to the position as CEO at DataTrak and it was able to give him new challenges from reconstructing the company to doing a 180 turn, and getting it back on track in the business world. Different employees will cross your paths and when one says “I didn’t sign up for this,” get far away from that person, said Birch. Those words are what not to say if you want to step and be a leader. To be the leader, you have to step up and take charge, said Birch. Unfortunately, with being in charge and taking responsibility you will get blamed, but putting the interest of others before you will benefit in the long run, said Birch.

In his various CEO roles, Birch has learned important leadership lessons. To be the leader, you have to step up and take charge, said Birch. Unfortunately, you will also get blamed, but by putting the interests of others before your own, you will benefit in the long run. “When there’s a challenging situation, you either step up, or step out,” said Birch. 

A challenge from Birch appeared early in his career when he had to take a company that wasn’t producing and reconstruct it so it could get back on its feet. The company had 225 employees that’s job was to create, market, and do all the things necessary to sell a product, but there was no product, said Birch. He came in and reconstructed the company to around 25 employees and hired some new people who valued what the company was producing, said Birch.

Being CEO gave Birch many challenges, but when unsure of what to do Birch said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” because you’re never sure of the opportunities it may bring.