Whether she’s among employees, clients, or industry colleagues, Alina Urdaneta keeps her ears open for Siemens Hearing Instruments
When Alina Urdaneta asked her colleagues what makes her good at her job as vice president of marketing and education at Siemens Hearing Instruments, many of them gave a similar and simple answer: “You listen.” Urdaneta listens to the 30 employees she oversees, regardless of their position in the company. “I sit down with even the most junior people in the company because good ideas come from everywhere,” she says. Urdaneta listens to the audiology practitioners to which Siemens sells its hearing-aid products and technology. And she listens to the pulse of her industry so that Siemens Hearing Instruments can quickly adapt to changes and stay ahead of competitors. Here, Urdaneta breaks down how she gets her company heard.
Establishing an online presence
Although Siemens Hearing Instruments does not sell its products directly to hearing-aid users, Urdaneta believes it is crucial to market to consumers nonetheless. “It’s important that you establish that connection with the consumer because it builds preference for and affiliation with the brand,” she says. Currently, Urdaneta believes one of the best ways to connect with consumers is through the web because the average age at which a person begins using a hearing aid is now younger and because more seniors are getting online and involved in social media. “We recently launched a brand-new consumer website that has been very successful,” Urdaneta says. “We have almost doubled unique visitors in a couple of months.”
In May 2012, Urdaneta and her team also launched a Facebook page for the company in recognition of Better Hearing and Speech Month. On both the company’s new website and Facebook page, Urdaneta says, the aim is to move beyond simply discussing the technical capabilities of Siemens’ products, but to highlight how hearing aids can change and improve lives.
Up Close & Personal
Getting to know Alina Urdaneta
What motivates you?
Even though I’m an engineer by training what really motivates me is influencing people.
Favorite vacation spot: The Caribbean. A beautiful turquoise sea and warm breeze make for my ideal vacation. Aruba, Cancun, the Bahamas—I love them all.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a surgeon, but that didn’t quite work out. I quickly found out that the sight and smell of blood didn’t agree with me. After doing a presentation where I had to bring lungs from a cow into anatomy class, I couldn’t eat for days.
What advice would you give to young Latinas who want to achieve the type of success that you have in your career?
I would say that you have to have a plan and be persistent. You need to express what your career aspirations are early and often. You should work for what you want and ask for what you want.
What do you like to do to relax or have fun in your free time?
I really enjoy spending time and traveling with my husband and my two children, ages 23 and 26. I’m also a very avid reader. I love period novels about strong women with remarkable lives. I also enjoy gardening and decorating, and I am very involved in my church.
Working with Audiology Professionals
The primary job of Urdaneta’s education team is to train audiology practitioners on the Siemens hearing instruments and technology. Since stepping into her role in 2008, Urdaneta has been striving to offer a training program that exceeds the expectations of the professionals. Urdaneta has also discovered that she can learn much insight from the audiology practitioners, too.
Urdaneta’s team began to organize focus groups during the training programs, which offers the professionals an opportunity to share suggestions and ideas. It was during one of these focus groups that Urdaneta realized the benefit the company’s waterproof hearing aid may provide for people in nursing homes, not just consumers active in water sports. A geriatric audiologist explained that frequently nursing home residents are taken to the shower while still wearing their hearing aids by caregivers who are unaware that the patients wear hearing aids. The hearing aids are thus ruined. “We would have never thought about that,” Urdaneta says. “It’s very refreshing the wealth of knowledge that you glean from these practitioners. The perspective that they bring is extremely valuable for not only product positioning, but also for product development and design.”
Educating Emerging Audiologists
In 2012 Urdaneta and her education team launched Siemens University, a two-day intensive program for top audiology students from around the country who were nominated by their university. The program, held at Siemens’ state-of-the-art New Jersey learning center, covers a variety of topics about the audiology industry, helps students plan their next career step, and even gives them a chance to build their own custom hearing aids. “The feedback was fantastic,” Urdaneta says. “The program raises our visibility among these top-notch students and helps build our talent bench for future hires.”
Making the most of national audiology professional events
For years, Siemens Hearing Instruments has participated in AudiologyNOW!, the world’s largest gathering of hearing-care professionals. This annual meeting gives these professionals the opportunity to explore the latest in hearing technology, and Siemens Hearing Instruments is there to introduce new innovations to the professionals in attendance. But, Urdaneta knows her company needs to do more than simply be present at these events. They need to come prepared with a compelling story to tell about new technology.
For example, at a past show, Siemens introduced new technology that allows hearing aids to emulate natural sound; the more natural the sound, the better the chance of immediate acceptance and adoption of the hearing aids by the patient. “In this past show we had a very, very strong presence, with a very strong story,” Urdaneta says. “We garnered a lot of interest at the booth and we had a lot of lift in the business as a result.”