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Finding Unity Through a Common Mission

Alignment
Mission / Vision / Charter
Goal Setting

21 July, 2021

Sameer Khanna, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Pager, talks about one of the most influential turning points of his career: leaving the frivolous world of e-commerce in order to make a difference somewhere more important.

Problem

I work in health technology. I joined my current company for a lot of reasons; one of those reasons was the desire to have a more tangibly positive impact on our world as a professional. I wanted to get away from e-commerce, which was the industry that I was a part of for the first half of my career. Working for a company that addresses a real need is very motivating for me. A lot of my colleagues joined for the same reason.

As engineers, we all want the same thing: a strong company culture that leverages all of our talents for the sake of the greater good. We are drawn to companies that offer this because they give us a chance to be a part of something larger than ourselves. We want to develop our technical skill sets to the most advanced degree in order to do the greatest amount of work possible for others.

Actions taken

Before the pandemic, our healthcare system was already broken. The telehealth industry is getting a lot of attention right now, in the aftermath of the pandemic. Healthcare technology is already a naturally mission-oriented sector to be a part of; our current socioeconomic climate is only adding fuel to the fire. More than just a niche idea reserved for a very small demographic of clients, now, people are able to relate to these telehealth products that we’re trying to build.

Our mission is to change the way that all people access healthcare. All of us can relate to what we are putting out there for other people. All of us are humans. All of us are patients at some point. We all get sick. Being familiar with these common frustrations helps us to relate to our customers. We improve the user experience of millions of people in this area. Knowing this resonates deeply with the entire team, including myself. We are unified in this mission.

Just as important as the mission itself is the mission’s scale. How wide is your intended blast radius? Healthcare is bad enough in the United States; the problems in this area that the rest of the world has to deal with are even worse. To limit our scope to only our country would be to selectively deny these solutions to many of the most vulnerable and underserved communities in the world. On the other side of the coin, we bring in talent from everywhere in the world, too. We find that, even across international borders, this underlying desire to contribute positively drives people to excel.

When you’re surrounded by extraordinary people and you’re all moving in the same direction, finding your mission becomes a natural thing. Deciding whether or not a goal is worthwhile has a lot to do with personal belief. Many of the people who join my company come with a story already in progress, some experience that has shown them the value of services like ours.

I, myself, was always very curious about this industry. For me, it was always either going to be the medical field or computer science; I actually became a trained EMT in order to gain some insight from the side of the healthcare provider. I can safely say that my technical knowledge is what has allowed me to do the most amount of good for others, however. I’m grateful to be a part of this movement. I look forward to the work that we do together.

Lessons learned

  • If you still need to find your mission, take some time to think about the parts of our world that are dysfunctional. Who are you interested in helping? How will you improve this area of life?
  • All businesses need to achieve economic stability before being able to serve, which is always something to keep in mind. This does not preclude the need, however, for a higher-level goal — the organization’s ultimate net impact on society.
  • A lot of things are going virtual right now. There are a lot of solutions that still need to be built in support of this transition. This is a very exciting time for any engineer who wants to change the world.

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