Press Release

Southern Region

Driving a High Performance Culture in HR

4 November 2015

Southern Region Boston Scientific 4 November 2015

Barbara O'Gorman, HR Director, Boston Scientific Ireland; Margaret Collins, CMCIPD, Vice-Chair CIPD Ireland Southern Region; Liz McAvoy, Area Manager, Junior Achievement Ireland; Ann Butler, MD, Junior Achievement Ireland

CIPD Ireland Southern Region was delighted to hold our recent Driving a High Performance Culture in HR event at Boston Scientific Cork on Wednesday 4 November, with Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) also participating in the event. Between both organisations, it was an evening of very impressive statistics.

Subsequent to Margaret Collins, Vice Chair CIPD Ireland Southern Region, opening the event, Boston Scientific Cork’s Seán Gayer, Vice President of Operations, and Barbara O’Gorman, HR Director, welcomed the crowd. In advance of a company overview and site tour that would validate the high performance culture Boston Scientific is driving, Barbara introduced JAI’s Ann Butler, Operations Director, and Liz McAvoy, Area Manager. Barbara also reminded the room that corporate social responsibility involvement drives employee engagement, which in turn drives higher performance.

To a large attendance of engaged HR Leaders, JAI Operations Director Ann Butler explained that Junior Achievement Ireland’s ultimate purpose is to teach STEM, business and life enterprise skills, with a dual goal of students staying in school longer, and maximizing their opportunities. Twenty years in existence in Ireland (15 of which Ann has been with the initiative) saw JAI interact last year with 600 schools, 63,000 students, 200 organisations and 3,100 volunteers, through six regional offices and 25 staff. Per Ann, Junior Achievement Ireland is strategically low-profile as it is all about students from senior infants to secondary, partner companies, the 16 structured sequential programmes, and of course the volunteers for whom involvement constitutes personal development and engagement, as validated by 98% of JAI partner organisation survey responses.

Junior Achievement Ireland Area Manager Liz McAvoy, subsequently confirmed the relevant numbers for Cork: 89 schools, 12,000 students, 35 companies and 433 volunteers. Liz also highlighted the following JAI ongoing initiatives:

  • Pepsi’s Challenge Science involving 4 schools, 150 6th Class students and 16 volunteers.
  • Kerry Ingredients’ Dragon’s Den involving Carrigaline Gaelscoil and fun food experiments.
  • Janssen’s International Women & Men’s Days aimed at Transition Year Students hearing inspiring career stories.
  • Tomar Trust’s My Future, My Business involving 10 DEIS schools, 863 students, 37 in-class programmes, 36 company visits and 150 volunteers.

To conclude the Junior Achievement Ireland section of the night’s event, Eilish Walsh, HR & Recruitment Coordinator, Boston Scientific Cork, delivered a passionate speech about Boston Scientific Cork’s involvement with JAI since 2007. Eilish really validated the positive personal impact of CSR involvement in such a fantastic initiative.

Following the above, Boston Scientific Cork’s HR Director Barbara O’Gorman provided all with a company overview. Boston Scientific is at the forefront of the medical device sector in the development, manufacturing and marketing of medical devices. With 24,000 employees, 13,000 medical device products, annual revenue of $7.4 billion, #1 or #2 in 75% of markets, and 18 manufacturing sites, conditions of heart disease, chronic pain, cancer and lung disease are treated. The company is founded on a commitment to pioneering, innovating and advancing science for life, as espoused by its mission statement, Boston Scientific is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world. In advance of showing a patient video featuring Dr Martin Buckley of The Mercy Hospital, Cork, Barbara shared with the room as to how she is moved every day by the company’s mission, and the video shown certainly resonated similarly with many in the audience.

Next up was a corridor site tour that included both cultural and product focus, and for this ex-pharmaceutical Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, fascinating insight into how Boston Scientific Cork is ingraining continuous improvement, absolutely including HR.

Opening the Driving a High Performance Culture in HR presentation, Cathal Reilly, Engineering Director, and Noel Russell, Quality Director, reiterated the company mission statement, and explained how the core values of the organisation - Caring, Meaningful Innovation, High Performance, Global Collaboration, Diversity and a Winning Spirit - infuse alignment with the commitment to continuously improve patient care. Cathal and Noel proceeded to explain that since 2012, the Cork site has embarked on a journey towards operational excellence, embedding a culture which moves beyond the traditional alignment of lean systems and tools, to also focusing on behaviors, attitudes and values.

Members of the Boston Scientific Cork HR Team Liz O’Keeffe, Deirdre Lee and Claire Hughes subsequently talked us through how the HR department is driving a high performance culture within their area. We were shown the tools they use, how they apply those tools in practical terms, and in turn, how they are embedding a sustainable lean culture within the department.

They begin each day with a 15-minute ‘stand-up’ meeting, and track day-to-day deliverables on an accountability board. This allows the HR team to focus on priorities for the business - Safety, Quality, Service and Cost - and track how they are doing on the day, within the week, and how the monthly team metrics will look. The team also dedicate a few minutes at their Friday meeting to celebrate the week’s successes.

On a weekly basis, they use a simple process to identify and implement improvement ideas called a Continuous Improvement Board, whereby all submit improvement ideas on cards, and the team reviews the progress weekly. We were provided examples displaying how this engages and drives all employees to solve problems and improve performance. All employees on site generate at least 4 improvement ideas every year.

We were then brought through the HR department metrics, which reflect the key areas of its contribution to the success of the business. The HR team discussed how monthly reviews allow them to ensure the current state of the process is always known. They gave examples of how analysing the department metrics have identified areas of improvement, and initiated large process improvement projects in both recruitment and absence management.

Liz, Deirdre and Claire concluded with outlining that the important piece of their improvement initiative is ensuring the effort is sustained, by embedding continuous improvement in everything they do. All of these efforts have lead this department to a position whereby they are executing projects and realising the benefits, having already achieved double this year’s cost reduction/avoidance target. Such an impressive story, I for one will definitely be back to hear much more!

To bring to a close, Margaret Collins, Vice Chair, CIPD Ireland Southern Region, sincerely thanked all at Boston Scientific Cork for their involvement in hosting the evening’s engaging event, and presented HR Director Barbara O’Gorman with a gift to mark the occasion, kindly sponsored by The Irish Examiner.

For further information, please contact

David Barry
PRO, CIPD Ireland Southern Region
David A. Barry
M. 087 2804753

Conor O’Connell
Chairman, CIPD Ireland Southern Region
M. 086 8303843


Speaker biographies

Boston Scientific

Boston Scientific, one of the world’s largest medical device companies with a presence in over 40 countries worldwide and total employees of approximately 24,000, produces over 13000 healthcare devices. Boston Scientific is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical devices that improve the health of patients around the world. At Boston Scientific Cork, we are committed to helping patients live healthier, longer lives. Since its opening in Cork in 1997, over 820 people are employed at its site in Cork. Boston Scientific is committed to providing an environment of continuous improvement, knowledge sharing and positive supports for its staff. Boston Scientific Ireland employs over 4000 staff and produces innovative medical devices including stents, pacemakers and catheters.

Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement works in partnership with companies to complement the school curriculum by bringing the world of work into Irish classrooms. Junior Achievement recruits, trains and manages business volunteers to work with students to inspire and motivate young people to make the most of their education. 63000 primary and secondary school students participated in Junior Achievement programmes in Ireland last year in disciplines such as enterprise, maths, science and life skills. Junior Achievement’s twin aims are to encourage students to stay in school and to maximise the opportunities that their education provides.