As the new US Director of Sales for Cardiac Diagnostics & Commercial Execution at Boston Scientific, Mario Ball remarks that leading is not something he planned or chose to do, rather he feels as though he was called to lead.
“Leading and living a life of service is something I feel became a part of my purpose at a very young age,” he declares.
Dedicating his life to helping patients get access to medical technology
Mario is an innovative leader and dynamic engineering professional with several years of domestic and global experience in the design, development, and sales of medical devices/technology. However, his life did not start that way.
“I grew up in a small rural town in South Georgia with less than 7,000 people and was raised by grandmother until she passed away from a heart attack when I was 10 years old,” he recalls. Although devastating, it inspired Mario to ask himself three questions: “What could I have done to help save her life? What’s out there that she could have had access to, that could have helped her live longer? How can I be a part of that solution?”
The answers to those questions became part of Mario’s life’s purpose and inspired him to dedicate his life to helping patients get access to the medical technology they deserve. After obtaining a Dual-Degree in Applied Physics and Biomedical Engineering from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech, he immediately began to explore a career in the medical device industry. He has had an extensive career in this space – initially starting as an engineer at NASA Johnson Space Center and Stryker Orthopedics, to eventually turned Cardiology Sales leader at Medtronic and Boston Scientific. In 2018, he completed an Executive MBA from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Business.
Believing that the road to success for any organization is through its people, Mario felt compelled to amplify his efforts and extend his reach through others, despite the success that he had as a sales representative. “I welcomed the responsibility of not only finding the potential in people but also having the commitment to developing that potential,” he says.
As US Director of Sales for Boston’s Cardiac Diagnostics business, Mario is responsible for all Cardiac Diagnostics sales across the entire US and works with CRMDX Area Vice Presidents to maximize sales opportunities and drive sales priorities in geographies across the US. He is responsible for defining and leading the development of strategic plans to drive revenue growth in their Cardiac Diagnostics business.
In this role, Mario strategically partners and develop relationships with leaders in key Boston Scientific functional areas, including but not limited to – Corporate Accounts, Finance, Legal, R&D, and Regulatory Affairs.
Mario has plans to drive more focus and exponential growth in Boston’s Cardiac Diagnostics business by leading co-selling efforts and driving dedicated sales resources to the expanded diagnostics portfolio across all Cardiology Sales, including implantable and ambulatory cardiac products.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
– Pablo Picasso
Transforming lives through innovative medical solutions
Boston Scientific is a world-renowned medical device company dedicated to transforming lives through innovative medical solutions that improve the health of patients around the world. It was formed on June 29, 1979, in Watertown, Massachusetts, as a holding company for the medical products company, Medi-Tech, Inc., and was intended to position the company for growth in interventional medicine.
The founders had a clear purpose to benefit public health by bringing more accessible, lower-cost, and lower-trauma medical options to patients while becoming a leader in all aspects of the industry. Their journey of innovation began in 1979 when their revolutionary steerable catheters were first used in less-invasive procedures.
Boston Scientific eventually went public in 1992 and saw continued growth through the decade. By 1997, it had acquired nine additional companies and reported $1.8 billion in revenue for the year.
The 2004 launch of the TAXUS® Express2™ paclitaxel-eluting coronary stent system in the United States was one of the largest and most successful product launches in industry history, highlighting Boston Scientific as a recognizable brand in the industry.
It demonstrated their continued leadership in innovation, clinical science, sales, operations, supply chain and launch planning. The launch highlighted BSC’s ability to not only produce industry-leading products but also build on those products.
Mario notes that Boston Scientific has been able to maintain a unique and dominant footprint within the medical device industry because of its strong commitment to meaningful innovation. Because of this focus, they have been aggressive at fostering strategic collaborations, both internally pan-BSC and externally, with unique partnerships with other innovative companies like Siemens Healthcare and General Electric.
This dedication to meaningful innovation has allowed Boston Scientific to push specialties, like their Cardiology business, further by bringing something new and novel to the Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) market with their Watchman device. “For example, Atrial Fibrillation patients today are taking anticoagulants to help prevent strokes, but the biggest challenge they have is bleeding. Watchman has revolutionized this space to help prevent both bleeding and strokes,” Mario explains.
“When following in another’s tracks, you leave no footprints.”
– Joel Branneon
A company that’s committed to patient care
Mario points out that, in 2021 alone, Boston Scientific treated 30 million patients with life-changing therapies to address several disease states with their products and businesses – whether it’s in Cardiac Rhythm Management, Interventional Cardiology, Watchman, Endoscopy, Urology & Pelvic Health, Peripheral Interventions, or Neuromodulation.
As a company committed to patient care, the growth of Boston Scientific continues to be led by strategic imperatives that will help drive high performance across all areas of the business. Their strategy of transforming lives across the globe will be fueled by their focus on driving cross divisional and external partnership collaborations, investing over $1 billion annually in Research & Development, investing in their people and communities, and fostering a community of innovation.
In addition, Boston Scientific has aligned all of its cardiology businesses into one Cardiology Group. This decision to bring cardiology together has enabled them to invest differently in this space and make decisions that allow them to expand their reach to improve the lives of more patients.
Mario observes that Boston Scientific now has more focus and collaboration, which helps unlock their ability to have synergies across their cardiology organizations. The things they are doing in Cardiac Rhythm Management can transfer easily over to Interventional Cardiology – and that’s a very powerful thing, as it relates to providing innovative products for all patients.
“Today I will do what others won’t do, so tomorrow I can accomplish what they can’t.”
– Jerry Rice
Creating a culture of accountability and high performance
Mario believes that ensuring a culture of integrity and innovation on any team begins with the leadership of that team. Great leaders drive a culture of inclusiveness and accountability; the right culture drives the appropriate actions and behavior of integrity; consistent and the right type of behavior results in high performance on any team, should you have the right people on the bus.
Mario is guided by a set of leadership principles, the 3 Ps of Leadership – People, Performance, Progress – that have allowed him to optimize the culture and performance of every team that he has led.
His guiding principles go hand-in-hand with the core values of Boston Scientific, which include transforming care, investing in their people, driving meaningful innovation, maintaining a culture of high performance, leveraging global collaboration, leaning into diversity, and creating a winning spirit.
Mario notes something that has always been evident to him is putting the people first – they are the most important asset and the currency of every business. He maintains that people may not remember what you say or do, but they will always remember how you make them feel.
Mario explains that when people feel heard and valued, they are often more engaged and tend to be motivated to perform better. This approach requires you to engage them uniquely and meet them where they are, and it is one of the building blocks of establishing trust. Once trust is established, you can coach, guide, and develop each person towards their true potential.
Mario believes that performance cannot be discussed without accountability and should always be addressed in concert – you don’t get one without the other. While leading teams, he has been successful at creating cultures of high performance and innovation by driving two unique accountability measures: Front-loaded and team accountability.
Front-loading accountability requires setting clear expectations upfront and establishing mutually agreed key performance indicators for achieving success. Mario explains that the team accountability process is often uncomfortable, but effective because it creates transparency with everyone’s performance, business plans, and best practice sharing.
“I help motivate my employees by making sure they feel valued and that they are my top priority. We win with accountability. Creating a culture of accountability and high performance encourages my team to motivate themselves while working with intention and high integrity,” Mario insists.
When you have Active Faith, you know that life is not a solo sport. Active Faith is knowing that you’re on a team even though you don’t know who the players are.
– Simon Sinek
Recognized as one of the best places for women to work
Mario notes that Boston Scientific is constantly being recognized for the great things they are doing in the market, such as receiving recognition for being one of the best places for women to work. Earlier this year, they won the Catalyst Award, one of the most prestigious awards recognizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) leadership and excellence.
Each year, Catalyst recognizes groundbreaking initiatives that have had a measurable impact on the recruitment, development, and advancement of women. Since launching the award program in 1987, only 94 organizations have been recognized.
Mario believes that Boston Scientific is one of the best medical device companies to work for, and he has been very intentional with putting his people first. It is his vision that Boston Scientific not only becomes one of the best places to work for women, but also the top company to work for people of color, engineers, millennials, and leaders in business.
“It is my hope that Boston Scientific gains category leadership in all of its business, but especially in its Cardiology franchise. I believe Boston Scientific will continue to lead in innovation and become the number one medical device company in the world,” he declares.
“The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately.”
– George Koufalis
To create change, you have to become the spark
Mario observes that to create change, you have to become the spark; and that he is influencing the next generation of leaders by living his own life on purpose, full of service, and by leading from the front.
“I would encourage the upcoming generation to focus on three areas: definiteness of purpose, expect to win, and lift as they climb,” he states. “Favor and people will follow purpose. It is easy to establish an expectation to win when you work hard and prepare for it. The belief in their purpose should be as certain as a farmer preparing for harvest. Whatever you make room for in your life, you empower it to grow.”
For Mario personally, some of the best feedback he received that made him proud as a leader came during his first leadership role. He recalls that he had a person on his team who was not performing to expectation, but he knew they had tremendous untapped potential.
Although Mario was grateful for the perspective he received on this person from previous leadership, he decided to engage this person uniquely and from his own lens. He was able to meet that person from where they were and establish trust by showing up and being very honest with his feedback.
Over time, this person started to open up in taking more initiative in their business. Week by week, their performance got even better, eventually taking them from the lowest performance to now being the highest-performing rep on the team. Over that year, that person went on to become the 2nd highest-performing rep in the country and achieved President’s Club status.
“When that person came to me in private and thanked me for changing their life, I was confused and humbled at the same time. It was then I realized that when you engage or coach someone authentically, the impact is not only felt in a professional setting; you’re igniting change in all areas of that person’s life,” Mario reflects.
This feedback reminded him that leaders are defined as anyone who takes the responsibility for not only finding the potential in people or processes, but one who also has the courage and commitment to develop that potential.
“God doesn’t give us maps to follow – He gives us people to go with.”
– Bob Goff
Success is always achieved over time, not overnight
Working in a demanding industry and company that provides products to help save and extend quality to the lives of patients across the globe, Mario is honest in admitting that work-life balance is still a struggle for him, and something he has to be intentional about every single day.
“Accepting that true balance is unrealistic, I strive to find harmony between my schedule at work and personal responsibilities at home,” he says. “Not sending emails after 8 p.m. sets a tone with my team that my family time is off limits unless it’s something urgent. In addition, when I’m home with my family, I try not to be on my phone or check emails after hours unless necessary.”
“One of the things that helps me create harmony is my wonderful wife, Monique Ball. She has sacrificed her career trajectory so that I may excel in mine. She has selflessly moved with me across the country, enabling me to explore opportunities to grow and develop further as a leader. In addition to managing almost all responsibilities at home, she takes special care of our 2 little girls, Emery (6yrs old) and Oaklynn (2yrs old).”
Mario believes that success is progressive and that to progress and find your way to success is the debt that you owe to your life. However, he points out that everyone wants to taste success until they know the cost. But true success is expensive, and it requires that you pay the rent in advance every single day.
Mario explains that it is normal for most people to focus only on their goals as a metric of their success. Although establishing and executing those goals is an important part of it, true success is obtained when you are not solely focused on reaching the goal – success is reached and sustained when you fall in love with the process of reaching the goal(s) you’ve set.
“It requires that you fall in love with the process of ‘chopping the wood and carrying the water’. Success is always achieved over time, not overnight,” he observes.
Mario leaves us with these inspiring words of wisdom for aspiring leaders: Focus on the hard times ahead with the thoughts of those who came before you. Focus on the mission ahead with thoughts of your role as a leader in your community. Focus on the obligations of your family with thoughts of their needs first, and your own needs last.
Focus on the future of your people with thoughts of your course of action to make their dreams come true, by any means necessary. Focus only on your possibilities for success, not your potential for failure. Focus on moving forward in your leadership journey with more FAITH than fear – when you approach any obstacle with more faith than fear, the weight of that obstacle falls away.
When you approach a situation with more faith than fear, the weight of that situation falls away and there’s no situation to face.
– Mario Ball