Successful tech leader Liat Ben-Zur has always been passionate about bringing technology to life. Little did she realize that at Philips, she would end up helping to create the very solution that she had so sorely missed herself as a parent.
Liat Ben-Zur had been working at the forefront of Silicon Valley tech innovation for over two decades and co-founded the AllSeen Alliance – one of the largest open-source IoT alliances in the world. Then Philips reached out to her to see if she could help lead the transition towards a more digital company.
“I’d spent a lot of time driving the technology vision of tomorrow: creating the home of the future, or the phone of the future, but Philips was an opportunity for me to really take the technology that I was so excited about and bring it to life.”
The idea of bringing technology to life for the end user was something very close to Liat’s heart. Before joining the company, she had given birth to a premature baby and spent three months living in a neonatal intensive care unit. Her son was still quite sick, with problems eating and sleeping, when they could finally go home. “We downloaded every single app we could to try to track what was going on with him on a day-to-day basis. Every time we went to a different doctor we presented them with the same data. The information was never shared. It was a disaster. As the parents we were the ones that had to connect all the dots. It was very stressful,” Liat says.
At Philips, her personal experience and professional expertise seamlessly came together. Now, she could actually lead the team developing the very type of connected technology that she had so missed as a consumer and parent. Nothing illustrates this more for her than uGrow, Philips’ parenting app.
"I enjoy working on solutions that I can relate to, helping to build solutions that make a difference"
“uGrow is an example of how we can start to leverage a solution at home that mums and dads can use to track their baby's development to really deliver personalized insights at the right time. Insights that not just present a summary of the data collected, but that make the most of clinical expertise to provide meaningful guidance specific to a baby's needs,” she says. “When your baby has a fever at two in the morning and you don’t know what to do, uGrow provides guidance. These are the types of things that we see really changing healthcare in the future.
Being able to put innovative tech with a lasting impact on wellbeing in the hands of the consumer was a deciding factor in Liat’s decision to swap the sunny US West Coast for Philips HQ in Amsterdam.
“The chance to build these patient engagement solutions that allow patients, parents, consumers to go home and use devices that they use every day already, whether it's smart home gadgets or mobile phones, to collect data and share that with doctors, spoke exactly to the experience that I had. I think we're just at the tip of what we can do to really change
Liat’s is driven by a sense of making a meaningful contribution: “I enjoy working on solutions that I can relate to, helping to build solutions that make a difference.” uGrow is just one of them. Sonicare connected children’s toothbrushes are another. “A child picks up their oral healthcare habits for the rest of their life by age ten. So if we're able to really help children develop strong oral healthcare skills early, that will permeate for the rest of their lives. Sonicare for Kids has proven to really make a dramatic improvement.”
Now Senior Vice President, Digital Transformation Leader at Philips, Liat has never looked back. With a history that goes back 126-years, Philips may seem a world away from the fast-paced tech hubs where Liat spent most of her career, but innovation has always been a hallmark of Philips and still is. She has been given full scope to power the innovations necessary to reshape the company, developing IoT solutions and partnerships.
"Philips was an opportunity for me to really take the technology that I was so excited about and bring it to life"
Philips is in a truly unique position, Liat explains: “It is one of the only companies in the world that addresses a strong consumer experience and a highly regulated healthcare experience. I think that bringing that together is the future of healthcare.”
She has a clear vision of the role Philips can play in paving the way forward: “We need to stop thinking about healthcare as this thing that happens when you’re in the hospital, or as what your doctor tells you to do. Healthcare needs to be turned on its head. It should be what we do in our day-to-day lives. I see Philips as being at the heart of that new future.”
But this cannot happen without the right talent: “We need people who are hungry to make things happen as we shift from traditional ways of building products towards agile software and lean teams,” she says. The massive shift towards transformational healthcare currently underway marks a new age of opportunity for people now joining the company to lead change and impact strategic decisions that will benefit generations to come.
Liat is proud of all she has been able to achieve within Philips since her arrival in 2014, building up a whole new organization within the company. It’s been a surprising journey, rich in challenges and learning experiences: “I spent most of my career really deep, deep in technology. Where is mobile going? Where is wireless going? Coming here, building a team, it’s incredible how much more energy goes into creating a mindset and driving things differently.”
But, doing things differently is just what Liat relishes. Especially when it means you can push the envelope of health and wellness. “What we’re doing in healthcare with patient engagement is really making a difference for a lot of chronically ill people. It feels great to be working on those types of products.”
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