patrick sullivan

5 Questions with Patrick Sullivan, BS 2014, Director of Sales at CD Leycom

As Director of Sales at CD Leycom, a company that provides the world’s only human-use pressure-volume loop system and other cardiac monitoring devices, Patrick Sullivan uses engineering and business skills he flexed while a student at UT Austin. In addition to earning a B.S. in biomedical engineering, Sullivan also received a Business Foundations Certificate and participated in four summer internships. These experiences paved the way for determining what type of career he would be best suited for after graduating. We chatted with him while he was traveling in Panama, where he was supporting a clinical research study with a small start-up company using CD Leycom’s technology to better develop their own therapeutic heart failure device.

What do you at CD Leycom?

I manage CD Leycom’s North American business, which is mostly US-based. CD Leycom provides the world’s only FDA approved pressure-volume loop system, called the Inca (IntraCardiac Analyzer). This is a comprehensive hemodynamic monitoring tool that provides crucial information to better diagnose cardiovascular diseases and optimize other medical devices, such as heart pumps and heart valve therapies.

My primary role is sales-oriented; I increase our market share, install base, surgical case volume, and educate the masses on pressure-volume loop hemodynamics. I train physicians on how to use our devices within a catherization lab or operating room environment and work with interventional cardiologists, heart failure specialists, cardiothoracic surgeons, nurses and technicians. Being part of a smaller company, my responsibilities are broad and include aspects of sales, marketing, finance, supply chain, and clinical support.

How did you get involved with business side?

As a student, my goal was to secure an internship and gain hands-on experience. I was able to partcipate in four different internships and learn about various functions within the medical device industry.

My first two internships were extremely technical. I did a lot of data crunching and technical projects as an R&D engineer with Alcon Laboratories (Ft. Worth, TX). The experience was valuable in that I learned about the ideation and validation process for Class III medical devices on a large-scale. I also learned that this type of work wasn’t something I was passionate about.

From there, I secured a third internship with Alcon, but worked in Cork, Ireland as Alcon’s first expat intern to assist with the implementation of a new manufacturing line for prototyping intraocular lenses. Working in a fast-paced manufacturing environment was exciting, but I still didn’t quite find my “fit.”

My fourth internship was with a company called Emergent Technologies in Austin, a small venture capital firm focused on fundraising for preliminary medical devices and biotechnologies. I was a business development intern and did entry-level sales duties: cold calling, developing business plans, and working to form partnerships that would assist with the commercialization of early-stage technologies. I loved the hunt involved with that type of work and enjoyed interacting with many different types of people.

From there, I knew I wanted to take my technical background and passion for business development and turn that into a career.

After graduation, I started as a Territory Business Manager for a small Texas-based company called Millar (Houston, TX). Millar is known for providing the “gold-standard” in cardiac pressure monitoring for decades, and I was responsible for growing their clinical cardiac catheter business. I worked with Millar for almost five years, eventually managing a team as their National Sales Manager, before transitioning to my current role with CD Leycom.

How did you decide to go into sales?

Sales was the number one path for me. It’s a business function that requires a high-level of self-efficacy, resilience, selflessness, and passion, while allowing me to assist physicians in the “heat of battle” and ultimately see a technology benefitting patients firsthand. It’s the best! I enjoy the ability to “create” my own future, network with different medical professionals, and help an organization achieve a challenging goal on the front-line.

A quota may scare some away, but it is a clear, quantitative goal that successful and competitive sales leaders are addicted to crushing. As I learned early on from one of my sales mentors, “shy salesmen have skinny kids.” Instead, get out there and make it happen!

Why UT Austin?

Growing up in Texas, you’re either going to see burnt orange or maroon. Most of the people I grew up around were UT Austin alumni and still bleed burnt orange to this day. Purely from a career perspective, the Cockrell School of Engineering and McCombs School of Business are both strong and reputable organizations that produce amazing talent year after year. Compared to other engineering schools that I considered, UT Austin offers the best balance for a high quality of life from social clubs, educational programs and resources, a killer sports program, and a positive, inclusive culture. Living in Austin itself provided a variety of festivals, restaurants, and outdoor activities that are unrivaled in Texas and many other places in the US. UT Austin is the full package.

How did your time in the Department of Biomedical Engineering prepare you for where you are today?

Two courses stick out to me. BME 102, was such a great introduction to the “real-world” of biomedical engineering. During the course, the department provided an overview of what BME is and could be, which is reflected in the different BME “tracks” and course curriculum. Additionally, different people from industry were invited to talk about the scope of their jobs, day-to-day duties, and how their companies are working to make patients better. As a wide-eyed freshman, this was helpful to remove any fears of “what the heck do I do with this degree” or “what kind of jobs are out there.” The department did a great job showing students of what awaits us on “the other side” and allowed for us to network with Texas-based companies.

Senior Design was the most important snapshot of what I could do with my degree. Working with a team is key, which is the foundation for this course. Identifying who has what skills, how we could leverage different team members’ abilities, determining how to split a workload—we had a job to accomplish, and it felt like we were running a business. My team worked closely with Dr. Ken Diller and James Tunnell, who are both great mentors and brought in real-world business challenges for us to tackle. Exercises like learning customer needs, developing prototypes based on these needs, and conducting clinical research are still actions I perform today and are absolutely vital to our industry.