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Lisa Schilken

Lisa finds new and better ways to run a biomedical company that manufactures surgical instruments.

Lisa has always been athletic. Running down the basketball court in a tournament game her freshman year of high school, she suddenly found herself sprawled on the floor—her knee, shoulder, and neck badly injured. Doctors repaired her knee through endoscopy, a minimally invasive form of surgery that uses miniature medical devices. A tiny camera even took pictures inside her body. On the edge of the photos was the name of the camera’s manufacturer: Stryker. 

Firsthand Experience
It was a name Lisa was to remember when she attended a career fair in college. “There was a booth for Stryker Endoscopy, and I thought, ‘Hey, their devices did surgery on me!’" Lisa ended up with an internship at the San Jose, California, branch of the biomedical device company, working on the manufacturing processes for its miniature cameras and other instruments.

Streamlining and Troubleshooting
Lisa joined Stryker full-time after finishing college. As an industrial engineer in the video unit, she helps figure out how the products can be manufactured in the most efficient, cost-effective way to ensure the highest quality. “I make sure there’s minimal waste, that we get the devices out the door fast, delivered on time, and with high customer satisfaction.” Lisa likes the way a bumper sticker from the Institute of Industrial Engineers sums up her job: “Engineers make things . . . industrial engineers make them better!” 

Understanding People
But Lisa isn’t just concerned about Stryker’s products. She also looks out for the welfare of Stryker’s workers, and asks herself on a daily basis, “How can I make this easier for people? How can I make sure that the work is not hurting them?” One way she achieves this is by designing ergonomically sound assembly lines, set up to prevent employees from suffering repetitive motion injury. Working with people is one of the most rewarding parts of the job for Lisa. “I was really surprised by how much of engineering involves communication and leadership, and an empathy and an understanding of people.”  

More Surgery
Lisa’s surgery during high school was not her last. In fact, after giving up basketball for the supposedly lesser-impact sport of water polo, she reinjured her shoulder. But endoscopic surgery—again using Stryker instruments—made Lisa's recovery time much faster than she would have experienced with traditional surgery. “They reconstructed my entire shoulder through four little holes.” 

Her recent life has been marked by three more trips to the operating room. So much time spent in the hospital did have its lighter moments, Lisa recalls. “My doctor videotaped one of the surgeries, and he would stop and wave the tools around in front of the camera, saying ‘Look, Lisa—Stryker!’”

Helping People Get Their Lives Back
Lisa loves working in the medical world. “Even though I’m not a doctor,” she says, “I have some of the same impact because we make the equipment that’s in the doctor’s hands. Knowing that we make things that give people the opportunity to get their lives back is amazing. I’ve experienced that firsthand.”