Mentoring Week Bonus: A Conversation with Radena Salmon Sawyer, Senior Sales Director NE Region Neuromodulation & Interventional Pain at Medtronic: Mentoring and Women In Leadership

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Join me today for the third installment of our mentoring series.  Today I am talking to Radena Salmon Sawyer, Regional Sales Director Northeast Region Medtronic Neuromodulation and Pain Interventions.  We talked about mentorship through the Linkage Women in Leadership program, work-life integration and picking your hard and how the face of leadership is changing.

  • Insights on mentoring for Women in Leadership through Linkage
  • Importance of mentorship in various aspects of life.
  • Building a diverse mentorship circle is crucial for personal and professional growth.
  • Being vulnerable, trustung your intuition and being authentic in a supportive environment.
  • The changing face of leadership, with a focus on diversity and the impact it has on motivation and performance.
  • Carla Harris – Leadership – Linkage WIL
  • Work-life balance and mentorship in the industry.
  • Ownership of their mentorship relationship by setting up meetings and having a clear agenda, and offers advice on how to make the most of the mentorship.
  • The importance of curiosity and asking questions in mentorship.
  • Find what they truly enjoy and are passionate about in your work, as it will lead to fulfillment and happiness in the long run.

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Transcribed by OtterAI with minimal edits:

You are listening to the Its Your Time podcast and I’m your host certified life coach Michelle Arnold Bourque and today’s episode I’m sharing a recent conversation with Radena salmon Sawyer, senior sales director of the Northeast for Medtronic, neuromodulation and interventional pain at Medtronic as part of our mentoring series Week. Welcome to the It’s Your time Podcast, the podcast where busy professionals like you get the practical solutions and support you need to gain control of your schedule so you can strive to be the best in your career, but without the stress and overwhelm. If you’re looking to increase your energy and decrease your stress, you are in the right place.

Hello, hello, hello. Welcome back to the podcast friends. Okay, today, I have another special conversation that I am sharing as part of the mentoring week series. I recently had the privilege to discuss mentoring as it relates to women in leadership, otherwise known as will through linkage with Radena salmon Sawyer. Radena is a Senior Director for neuromodulation pain and interventional therapies at Medtronic. And I will say that is one part of her identity. And you will hear her discuss all the different facets of her unique self when she introduces at the start of the episode. And I just feel so lucky to have the chance to share her story with you today. There are so many gems in this episode. And especially I want you to really listen to how she talks about the importance of ensuring that you get exactly what you need out of your career and how to do that. So without further ado, please take a listen. All right, thank you so much for being here today. This is going to be so much fun. Can you start by introducing yourself in a way that seems fit to you share all the goodness? Sure. Speaker 1 1:56 So my name is Radena salmon Sawyer. And I was thinking about my intro. And I would describe myself as an Olympic. A world renowned Olympic juggler. And, and I say that because I thought about you know, who am I? And so you know, I’m a I’m a wife, I’m a new mom, I have a 14 month old. I’m a daughter, I’m an aunt, a friend, a dancer, a yogi. And I also have had this 20 year career in healthcare. 20 plus year career in healthcare Crazy, right? Yeah, it Time flies by really fast. And so yeah, I feel like I juggle all of those things. And that’s what makes me who I am.

Michelle Bourque 2:42 I love it. That’s so that’s so important. I think it’s so important, especially as women for us to recognize that it’s not just one thing, there’s so many different facets to who we are. And this podcast, or this series, specifically is about mentoring. So maybe we can jump in and talk a little bit about why you think mentoring is important. And maybe like how it has affected your 2025 Plus, right? 

Yes. Yeah, I mean, I think mentorship is really essential in any in any fields, whether you’re a dancer, a yogi, a businesswoman, a basketball player, and I think it’s great. I mean, if you go back to when we were younger, you know, we looked a lot to our coaches, and whatever, whatever activity we were doing, to kind of give us give us guidance. But then as we get into adulthood, you know, you have your peer group. And oftentimes people in your peer group can be one of your mentors, they could be on your bench. But you kind of get isolated either with your work friends, or just maybe your friend group from high school or college or mom, group, etc. And so it’s really important to be really deliberate on building your mentorship circle. And that includes not just who mentors you, but who you mentor. I’ve always felt that everyone can learn from anyone. So at Medtronic, even new employees, they always ask me, Well, if I get this role, like, what can I do? And I always say, be hungry and humble. And that balance, what it can look like is if you see an opportunity to do things better share that even though you’re new. So going back to mentorship, I think without mentorship oftentimes, you can feel kind of in a bubble, especially in sales because you’re, you’re, you’re alone on the day to day you don’t have that camaraderie of people in the office. So it’s really important to bounce the day to day ideas or even larger dishes decisions off of somebody that you trust, admire. And that you you would take advice from.

Michelle Bourque 4:58 I think that’s so important that point that you’re making like mentorship can look a number of different ways. And there’s not like a right or a wrong way to do it. But to be intentional about it is like the important thing. Absolutely. 

I have, I think I was thinking through some of the folks that I mentor, and I have people that have, I’ve scheduled quarterly time with them. And then I have people that when they have a life, change or opportunity, they always reach out. And I know life comes by really fast. And we’re all juggling things. So I never get like upset like, well, you you only call me when you need advice. I actually love it. I don’t I don’t mind because I understand how it is. And oftentimes I do the same. So yeah, Michelle Bourque 5:41 and I would like to just take a moment to acknowledge you as a mentor, now that you’re speaking to that, because I think it’s so, so funny. I remember, this was a few years ago, now we were I was coming back from an Aspire in person meeting with some of the folks that worked for you. And you were texting them and asking them like what their biggest takeaways were and how they were feeling. And I was like, Wait a second, she’s asking you how you’re feeling? I’ve never heard a leader ask about that. I feel like you know, especially you know, listen, we go back to the 1900s. As I jokingly say, but I think that’s definitely a change in the face of leadership. I mean, why do you think that’s important to really take that time to acknowledge that, um, Speaker 1 6:20 I think the idea of feeling is a sense that through as we grow older, we’re indirectly taught not to listen to it, right, the either. I remember, my grandmother called it women’s intuition, but people call it intuition or that kind of sixth sense. And I think how you feel, it certainly drives what you’re thinking. And then what you’re thinking ultimately drives your actions, which are good and bad. So I think if you don’t check in with yourself on how you’re feeling, either before or after an experience a situation and encounter, you can often perhaps not make the right decision. Or it like, for example, leaving weaving in that Aspire meeting, you know, I really wanted to understand how people felt because we have to use that, like, if you’re feeling really motivated and really inspired, like, take that with you on those really challenging days, where you’re like, it’s a grind, and nothing, nothing seems to be going in your way. And if you have that really good memory, of feeling really inspired and surrounded by really strong, powerful women, you know, lean into that kind of feeling. Yeah, 

7:40 I love that. And I think to your point, also, it’s so important. I feel like growing up, we are taught and socialized to look to the external things for our validation and trusting like everybody else knows. So I love that you’re putting it back on the individual, like trust yourself to know what’s right. Yeah, 

7:57 what and so just yesterday, with one of the folks on my team, I, we were somebody is leaving the organization. And as the person and I were discussing it, we were reflecting. And we both had the same kind of gut feeling that something wasn’t really right. But everything else seemed to be, you know, to line up for what we wanted. And, you know, in hindsight, you you know, you want to listen to your gut and into your intuition. But you also have to be, you know, aware of bought your own biases and all of those things. But it’s often really good to even reflect on that gut feeling you had why you made the decision that you made. And that’s actually what me and one of my managers discussed yesterday. Yeah, that is

 8:49 such a great point. And I think, you know, that brings us to this idea of like leadership changing right in the face of leadership, changing how we go about interacting with our teams. And you and I just had the privilege, I guess, of attending Women in Leadership Conference, where they discussed this. Can you maybe talk about why you think that conference is important? And maybe really looking at how the face of leadership is changing? Like, what does that mean to you? I guess. Sure.

So the first part is why the conference is important. I think the conference is really important. So Medtronic has typically a large group at the conference, there’s like 50 people. Well, we have 50 people this year. And then there’s the 2000 other women and some companies have large groups as well. I think Walt Disney had a large group. But it’s really It’s so inspiring. To see other influential, professional women that are driven in whatever they want to do, whether they want to progress their careers into you know, ascension or different roles, or to just be the best that they can be in their role. But it’s all So we’re really great space where you can be vulnerable. And oftentimes, especially in corporate America, and in a white, male dominated corporate America, you aren’t really given that opportunity to be vulnerable. And I will tell you that, you know, being authentic, yes, I, this is a pillar of my leadership. It’s what I want my teams and their teams to be, I want them to be authentic. But we also have, we also have to be cognizant of the environment that we’re in. And so oftentimes, it’s it looks a little different, versus being at an all women’s conference, where a lot of us share the same thoughts, fears, trepidations, challenges, etc. So I think it’s really important to have the opportunity to be in that environment. Because once you can be vulnerable, like that’s when you can really grow. And so I feel that wi ll via linkage is really essential for professional growth. 

11:06 I love what you just talked about how you show up maybe differently, but still being authentic, because Carla Harris was talking about I loved her so much I loved because I think sometimes I think, you know, we show up differently with different people. And are we not being authentic, but I loved what she was talking about. She brings Carla light to some situations and then full frontal, Carla, for the person. I was like, That’s so great. I mean, it kind of goes back to, like, we juggle so many things. And that’s okay. 

absolutely. Absolutely. And the second part of your question is, was like, you know, the face of leadership changing? And I think it’s, I think it’s fantastic. I think I mean, there are endless Harvard Business Review articles, and a ton of research that shows diversity is only only, you know, reaps better bottom line, bottom line, more margin, etc. And we also know that, you know, a lot of women led companies are some of the most successful. So I think, when you have when you see other women at the top, or ascending to the top, it gives you hope, and motivation, or even just, you know, admiration for someone that went through similar struggles, or maybe different struggles, everyone has their own story, everyone has their own kind of pain. But they’ve made it and it’s just very inspiring. And I think having that diversity at the top, not just that kind of the entry level. Makes people push harder. And, and and, you know, if you feel like you have a chance, you’re going to show your best selves all the time. 

Yeah, absolutely. And I think you are so generous with your time I saw a number of people stopping you throughout the four or five days that were there. Do you think there was a theme that people were kind of looking to pick your brain out? Speaking of like, you know, looking at you where you are, and like, how they can maybe get there? Yeah, Speaker 1 13:08 I mean, a couple of things stood out is, I felt that a lot of folks that I had discussions with, they were kind of stuck, they kind of plateaued, and not with kind of their desires, or their performance, but with their leader, right. And so I really talked a lot about how I’m really big on an elevator pitch, kind of who you are, what you do, your success, and that you need to share your elevator pitch with everyone. So when someone asks you like, Oh, Michelle, I haven’t seen your long time, what do you been up to, you don’t just say your recent vacation, you have your like, 15/22 kind of highlight of what you’ve been up to and who you are. And I was sharing with a lot of these women that that elevator pitch should be shared with everyone, not just your manager, but your managers, manager, and the other person the other business leader in, in the in the the neighboring business unit. Really anyone you interact with appear? Because you never know. I know I’ve said this before, you know, it’s not about who you know, it’s about who owns you. So it’s really important to articulate your goals and desires while outperforming your peers. Yeah, Michelle Bourque 14:27 I always share that piece of advice that you gave me because I was like, Oh, right. I feel like sometimes we think networking is like who can I go learn from or find out but it’s really the opposite of like when a position becomes open, that they think of you as a possible candidate.

Absolutely. And that’s why mentorship and sponsorship are really important as well. And I mean, ideally you want your mentor or your sponsors to know your your elevator pitch like oh Michelle, she’s fantastic. She and then they go into Basically your elevator pitch. So, you know, I think that’s, that’s something I spent a lot of time talking about. And then something that was really shocking. And it actually caused me to pause is I shared in my introduction, that I’m a new mom. And it’s hard that the transition back to work, and also being like an older mom, in my 40s, first time mother, and a lot of women were so inspired that someone in their 40s cap can have a career, I’m a senior director, and also a family and start family planning now. And I really had to pause because truthfully, I kind of felt like coming back from maternity leave, and I did take advantage of Medtronic six months leave, which I do appreciate. I kind of felt like I had something to prove. When like, I don’t really have to prove anything, I just be, you know, continue to be redeemed. But I kind of it was just just very odd feeling it’s really hard to describe. But after going to, to WRAL this year, someone was like, Wow, no, share your story, because that gives me hope. And I think the person was in her late 30s. And she’s like, I’m not ready, I still want to focus on my career. But this was really helpful to hear. So that was a that was something that was shocking to me, that people were inspired about. 

Right? Isn’t that interesting? Because we have the mindset, probably because you’ve been such a career focused person that the proving is on the career side, when really the proving is like that you can do it all. In a way that the same time that you Yes, exactly in a way that works for you. Exactly, exactly. And I do think that’s so important, especially in this industry. And I remember, like when I first started, and some of the folks that are no longer here, you know, really, like outright told me, this is not a mom job, and like had things to say about being a mom this job. So I think that’s so important for people to recognize that it can be done. It’s just a matter of like, where you prioritize your time at the end of the day, and how you become, you know, able to say no to some things and set boundaries on others, perhaps 100%.

And I always said, you know, I said like, your pain is your pain, like you have to pick your heart. And I knew once I met my husband, I want it to be a mother. And and so prior to that I am a dancer and a yogi, I think most people know that. And I would dance six days a week. I don’t even dance once a month. And quite honestly, it’s a sacrifice, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make to sustain my career, and also to be a mom. Right? Michelle Bourque 17:46 And it might just be the season, right? Like, sometimes we think we’re giving up something, but it might just be in this season. This is how it looks 100% Speaker 1 17:52 Like, once, once once my son gets a little older, and I have spoken to other moms who are mentors, and again, I you know, I mentor people and I have funny mentors, and they said, Oh, I do the same thing when my kids were that young. And they’re like, rodina it’s gonna change. Like, you’re just like you said, Michelle, it’s a season. 

That’s so funny. My i Someone told my sister when she had her second baby, and she was like, out of her mind that the days are long, but the years are fast. Yes, that is true. So enjoy it. I think also, if you are able to share, you know, someone might look at you and say like, I don’t know, like how would I reach out to someone at that level to ask for a mentorship? Like what would you suggest to people who are maybe intimidated, or just not even sure where to start? Sure. Speaker 1 18:39 Um, so I would a couple things I would think about who you admire. If there’s someone that you’ve seen, you heard about, maybe you saw in a newsletter. Think about somebody or maybe even someone in your business that you admire, remember mentorship can come, it can be in your peer group, it could be a colleague, direct colleague. And you could want either reach out directly, or to have somebody introduce you if you know somebody that may know that person or be in that business, etc. Ask them for an introduction. And I can understand how it may be intimidating. You’re like this person doesn’t know me, are they really going to commit? You know, I like to do if I have a serious mentorship, one meeting a quarter and it’s 30 minutes. And but you may be asking yourself, this person who’s so busy, are they going to really have time? And I will tell you, more likely than not people are going to say yes, they’re going to be humbled and flattered and excited to talk with you. Now if someone does say No, I wouldn’t take it personal and I bet they’d offer someone else for you to ask. And if they don’t then ask them well, is there somebody else that you would suggest? And then once you do have your manager have shipped you know, that first meeting can be really intimidating. So just think of it as an intro meeting like kind of speed dating, you know you share about yourself. So have something prepared. This is where your elevator pitch comes in. Or, and then also ask them about yourself, ask them about their journey. And just I mean, you’d be surprised how fast 30 minutes goes by, you know, you have to three questions, your 30 minutes are gone. And then I think the subsequent meetings, you can figure out what you want to focus on. And as the mentee, you should own that you set up time on their calendar or ask their admin to set up time. You only agenda if there is an agenda, or if you want something specific, but really take ownership of that mentorship relationship. Michelle Bourque 20:51 I love that that has for sure been a theme with everyone that I’ve talked to you in this series is like people want to help you. And I think also to your point earlier, like you might be helping them right also as far as being a new person or questions that you’re asking or excitement that you have around things. So I think it’s important to come with curiosity. Absolutely. I also love what you said, you said it at the meeting, and you just said it again, in this conversation. It’s like you pick your card. And I think that, you know, we talked about how mentorship can look different ways. And I think sometimes people don’t even realize that their mentors to other people. And I think that was an example. When you said that I was like, Oh, that’s so true. Even if you think like, it’s hard to be a rep and be taken call or whatever. And then you say like, I don’t think I could be a DM though, because I can’t deal with the personalities like, whatever that looks like for you. Right? It’s like you have to just stop and think about what is it that you want? Yeah, for sure. 

And that, that that, you know, what is it that you want is a question that I often ask people that I do mentor crystal say I’ll ask them, you know, they want to ascend to another role. And I’ll ask them what they want to do. And oftentimes, it’s a specific title. And I’m like, okay, so what about that title excites you? Right? What are you looking what’s going to be fulfilling about that title, because I’ve, I challenge people to find the role, like, find what you really love to do, because let’s face it, we’re with inflation, too, we’re gonna be working for a really long time. Like, find what you like to do. And there’s going to be a core role at Medtronic that has that function or activity as like their core function. So don’t chase title so much, like, Chase what you like, what makes you feel good, what excites you, for example, a lot of people want to be a rap. But if the number doesn’t excite you, and like chasing a number, and the pressure doesn’t excite you, and you, you instead get like a pit in your stomach, then sales is probably not for you. 

Exactly. Think about that, which I think that kind of brings us back to the beginning of like trusting your intuition and not always looking for the external light going within to figure out what that all looks like. Unknown Speaker 23:04 Absolutely. Absolutely. 

It’s so much fun. Have we missed anything? Oh, no, thank Unknown Speaker 23:09 you, Michelle Bourque 23:11 is the best way to connect with you like on LinkedIn, Speaker 1 23:14 LinkedIn would be the best way to contact me. If you’re internal to Medtronic, you can certainly send me an email and in the subject line, just to be very specific, like looking for mentorship, or looking for advice on who to be a mentor, just be very specific, because I don’t want to glance at it and think it’s spam, I get bound

23:37 to get lost. Thank you so much. Unknown Speaker 23:41 Thank you, Michelle. Thank you. 

Thank you wasn’t that great? You know, I have to tell you, after we stopped recording, we continued, you know, kind of the conversation around the importance of making sure people know that you might not feel like a hero every single day. We want to normalize. There are days when you might feel like you are a rock star and just getting everything done. And then there are days when you’re like, Well, what is even happening right now, right? But then you know what, you always have the opportunity to start again, tomorrow is another day. And that commitment to starting over again to what Radena mentioned, staying humble and hungry. That’s where you will find the winds to keep going. Okay, friends, remember Check her out on LinkedIn. Also, I highly suggest that you check out linkage and see what they have to offer from a developmental standpoint. And of course, you can always feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Let’s touch base again tomorrow for the next part of this amazing series but for now, make it a great day. Take care Did you know you can take this work to a deeper level with me one on one goat to MichelleBourquecoaching.com and click on get started to begin

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