President and Founder's Entrepreneurial Story Inspires Students to Pursue STEM Career Paths
While traditional job shadow programs bring students into the workplace, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida’s Reverse Job Shadow Day recently brought our area’s business leaders to Barron High School. Arthrex President and Founder Reinhold Schmieding presented to the school’s 450 National Academy Foundation (NAF) junior and senior students as well as teachers, administrators and community partners.
As the keynote speaker, Reinhold shared his personal experiences by walking students through his background, gave inspiring advice for how to succeed and showcased how Arthrex became the leader in sports medicine it is today.
"I loved sports and lettered in tennis, hockey, soccer, golf and track and field in high school," he said. "That was the beginning of my interest in sports medicine. In addition, everyone in my family has a medical background – most are physicians, so there was an unspoken destiny of the Schmieding family to go into medicine."
While attending Michigan State University, Reinhold played on the varsity golf team, took pre-med, physiology and engineering courses. He said when he went to a career fair, it all came together for him and he discovered his passion.
"I saw a small table with orthopedic implants and I couldn’t believe something that cool could be related to medicine and engineering. I was so fascinated by that. After graduating, I took a job in sales for that orthopedic medical device company and three months later, they asked me to move to Germany. That was my break, frankly. I had that medical knowledge through studying physiology, the work experience and I had learned German in high school and college. All of a sudden, I found myself in Germany as one of three people starting up a new subsidiary."
After building his experience for three years and honing his niche in helping orthopedic surgeons find solutions to difficult cases, Reinhold decided to start his own company out of his apartment in the Olympic Village in Munich.
"This gave me the experience and the confidence to start a new business," he said. "I began Arthroscopy Excision Instruments (before shortening the company’s name to Arthrex) without any outside financing in a market that didn’t exist yet – arthroscopic surgery."
On his drafting table in his apartment, Reinhold designed some of the very first tools to resect the meniscus in the knee without having to open the joint. He says he keeps the drafting table in his office to this day "as a reminder to remain humble and grounded."
One student said, "There were many things that stuck out in Mr. Schmieding’s presentation, but when he spoke about the small desk in his apartment that he started his business on, that really grabbed my attention. It was truly inspiring to hear how far he has come with his hard work and support system surrounding him. It was an experience I am very grateful to have had."
The presentation also helped students understand how products developed in their hometown of Naples are helping their family members and even their favorite athletes recover from sports injuries. Reinhold proudly told the students how Arthrex innovations helped Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, a member of Team USA Hockey, with a shoulder issue, allowing her to continue to play and bring home the gold medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics last month.
Reinhold’s presentation resonated with the students who shared messages of appreciation such as, "I would like to thank Mr. Schmieding for coming to talk to us at the reverse job shadow. It was truly inspiring to hear his story of starting Arthrex and his entrepreneurial success. Arthrex treats its employees with great care. I hope to one day work for a company like it."
Another student noted, "I have always aspired to be in the medical field to help people. Mr. Schmieding’s presentation made me realize that there are many ways to do this, even outside of becoming a doctor. A surgeon isn’t a surgeon without his scalpel and other tools. Someone has to design and create the tools that are used every day in the operating room. I thought every part of his presentation had purpose and gave me more insight into potential occupations."
Ian Sharp, director of the Biomedical Academy at Barron Collier High School agreed, "We were all very impressed with Reinhold’s presentation about Arthrex. It’s so important for the students to see an outlook on other careers in the biomedical industry that play important roles in companies like Arthrex. It’s my job to inspire as many students as possible each day, but events like this help them channel their passion for STEM careers."
The Reverse Job Shadow Day also included a panel discussion in which local medical professionals, a Florida Gulf Coast University pre-med student and Arthrex’s Director of HR and Organizational Development Mike Booseshared advice and answered questions from the students.
Courtney Stahlman, manager of curriculum and instruction for the county’s high schools, said about Mike’s contributions on the panel, "I have worked with Mike Boose before in many different capacities and I always find what he has to say to the students to be extremely beneficial. He emphasizes the importance of foundational skills and how internships, work-based learning opportunities and networking activities really help students gain the skills needed in the work environment."
Sydney Reithman, program manager for Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida, summed the event up best when she said, "What students found most inspiring was hearing the story of Reinhold’s journey to success at Arthrex. Not many students have the opportunity to hear from such a profound business leader that has established such a successful company in their own community, but with this event, I believe it helped students realize just how achievable their goals can be. On behalf of JA, we sincerely thank Reinhold and all other Arthrex participants for taking the time to speak to the students at this JA-sponsored event. We look forward to partnering with Arthrex again next year."