Canon Medical Research Europe has over 25 years’ experience in medical visualisation and image processing and has developed technology which is embedded into Canon Medical Systems Corporation’s range of modalities and Healthcare IT solutions. Most recently the organisation has developed a core competency in Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning and has a strategic relationship with the University of Edinburgh where they co-sponsor a Professor of Healthcare AI.
The Canon Medical team in Edinburgh also works closely with clinical colleagues in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to identify new opportunities for innovation and to develop new concepts and technology across a range of diseases.
Due to the pressures on healthcare and an ageing population, the industry is continuing to evolve to focus on precision medicine to improve the efficiency of resources which can assist clinicians to diagnose and treat patients.
Following our annual conference ‘STEM through an Intersectional Lens’, we spoke with Jannine Anderson, Head of Human Resources at Canon Medical Research Europe. We discussed the opportunities for women in STEM, the role diversity can play to create inclusive workplaces and enhance innovation to create products and solutions that deliver better solutions for everyone.
What are the career opportunities available for women in STEM at Canon Medical?
For the majority of our Research & Development (R&D) employees, there are 2 main tracks where they can progress technically or focus on progressing through a management track. The system has flexibility to accommodate different career aspirations.
What skills and talents are you looking for? And how does this reflect the job market and industry needs?
Hiring the right person, based on our culture, is key to our success. It is a very competitive market where the quality of talent is high. Whilst experience and skills are important, we want to hear from a diverse range of applicants who will excel in a collaborative environment, bring different perspectives, and feel empowered to challenge and use their judgement.
You have previously advertised your summer internships on the Equate CareerHub. Can you tell us a bit more about your internship programme?
Each year we run a three-month paid internship programme between June and September. This is an excellent opportunity to gain relevant work experience through joining a dynamic, innovative team developing industry-leading medical imaging solutions.
The students who enrol on this programme are generally in their 3rd or final year of university or early-stage postgraduate students (MSc or PhD) but applications are welcome from candidates who are keen to gain experience in this area. This year, the interns were also joined by high school students for the first 2 weeks of the programme.
What are the main benefits of joining the internship programme?
Students get the opportunity to work with experts in the field and gain the confidence in asking the right questions and learning fast from experienced colleagues. They are also supported by a personal mentor who is there to help and give them advice on their project.
Learning how to work as a team is also another key benefit of the programme. There is a good balance of team meetings to allow interns to catch up on questions and self-reflect on progress whilst giving the intern insights into what the rest of the team has been up to, which problems they face, and how research work eventually ends up becoming part of a future product.
In addition to technical and development support, our interns shared they also benefited from working in a friendly environment (with social outings a big hit when a lot of internship experience is otherwise hybrid), flexible hours, with high degree of autonomy on work activities and whether they are carried out remotely or in the office.
When can students apply to summer internships at Canon Medical?
We advertise our summer internships mid-November each year with a closing date of the beginning of January.
More information can be found here: https://research.eu.medical.canon/recruitment/internships
You are a close partner of Equate Scotland and sponsored our annual conference ‘STEM through an intersectional lens”. How does your commitment to diversity and inclusion relate to your corporate values and business goals?
Our parent organisation, Canon Medical Systems Corporation, based in Japan, has an organisational objective to improving diversity, which we are fully aligned with. We recognise that throughout the organisation we have more men than women working for us, and this is partly due to a smaller proportion of women traditionally opting for STEM related subjects, but this is slowly changing.
We are committed to improving diversity in our staff, because we recognise that diversity in our staff broadens our perspective, can achieve better innovation, and ultimately will help us deliver better solutions for all.
Research shows that diversity fosters innovation and creativity. Why is it so critical in your industry?
The advances towards precision medicine are extremely exciting to be a part of but they also come with responsibility. Innovation in healthcare has put health equity in the spotlight. With all the promises that come with precision health there is a risk of exacerbating inequalities that already exist, especially in underrepresented groups. Women are one such underserved group in healthcare; they have been historically underrepresented in research which has led to a lack of knowledge and ultimately to suboptimal diagnosis and treatment.
To achieve health equity, people should receive the care they need, not necessarily the exact same care. It requires health care to meet the needs of diverse patients, rather than a one-size fits all approach.
What initiatives do you already have in place to attract and retain women?
We regularly review our approach to attracting talent and we have a number of different approaches that aim to improve gender balance. These include: a bursary schemes to support women students at the University of Edinburgh, working with Equate Scotland, a new strategic partnership with CodeClan, and reviewing if graduate apprenticeships offer a more desirable route into the profession.
In terms of retention, it’s also important that people are well supported when they join us. We have many policies and practices in place not only to support women, but all employees, who wish to work flexibly, etc. We also have an excellent family leave policy for men and women. Any parent returning to work following a period of family leave are supported by their line manager and Human Resources.
We are also taking measures to achieve better women representation in leadership roles across the wider organisation.
What advice would you give to women who are interested in starting a career in R&D but not sure it is the right career move?
Greater diversity in tech will help us make better solutions for the world around us. Having a greater diversity among R&D teams is a big need, as it will help us ensure solutions are suitable for the wider society and not accidentally or unconsciously biased to a sub-set. This is one of the stepping stones for health equity. As a woman in STEM, you could contribute by pursuing a career in R&D. Although small representation of women in industry may be slightly intimidating, you will find that all of us, regardless of gender and background want to be part of the change movement and use tech skills for the greater good.
If you are feeling hesitant, remember that innovation needs divergent perspectives and that your unique view of the world will help drive progress. You will find that the vast majority of people are open to learning, especially in R&D. Achieving equity starts with education and awareness so share your views and be open to listening to how others view the world.
Spotlight on STEM women working at Canon Medical:
- Ivona Vickovic, Technical Manager
“I joined Canon and switched to a group management role in medical tech sector after fifteen years in consumer electronics industry. It’s been incredibly rewarding, and my development at Canon Medical, greatly supported by my teams, manager and rest of leadership team. Some of my group members have worked in other roles in the company or switched the career track while with us, for example from engineering to scientific technical track. It’s great to be able to support people pursue their development and career goals. All of this is possible because Canon Medical environment is supportive, fostering talent and cognitive diversity in all parts of the business”.
- Erin Beveridge, Principal Clinical Researcher
“I have been working for the company for 9 years now and as part of our Clinical team. I have a responsibility to ensure our developments are focussed on addressing the needs of both clinicians and patients. I have a particular interest in women’s health, and health equity more broadly, and am eager to explore how we, as a company, can continue to contribute to these challenges”.