Shawn Miller – Terumo Americas Holding Inc.
Science- and logic-minded since boyhood, Shawn Miller figures he made the right choice long ago by opting for technology instead of, say, chemistry.
“Chemistry doesn’t change anywhere near the pace of infotech,” Miller muses. “H2O is always water, H2SO4 is always sulfuric acid, but there’s always something new in our field. It’s constantly evolving and never gets stale.”
He’s been in the right place to evolve with it, Miller having logged more than 30 years tweaking systems and overseeing IT staff for essentially the same company under three names.
First it was a 1992-99 stretch with 3M, which was bought by the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Terumo Corporation, Terumo Medical Corp., manufacturer of injection and infusion devices for humans and animals. Around 2010, the company created Terumo Americas Holdings Inc., a holding company for its four U.S. subsidiaries and where Miller has since served as IT director of infrastructure.
To him, the responsibilities are seemingly modest, ensuring that business applications remain secure and there’s reliable means for virtual communication throughout the U.S.-based offices under this holding company. Then there are business units in South and Central America that also call for his department’s administrative support.
All the better if he can go about this while reducing IT overhead through preventive maintenance and timely replacement.
“It’s about understanding the equipment and making and explaining the plans to replace it before it’s outdated or malfunctions,” Miller tells Toggle in December from his North Tustin, California, home where he’s become accustomed to working remotely.
Nothing last forever
While the need for cybersecurity isn’t as pronounced as it might be for a retailer that accepts credit cards online, Miller reminds how Terumo still has much intellectual property to safeguard. In 2019-20, the company undertook a cybersecurity upgrade, propping up its systems through multifactor authentication, vulnerability scanning and remediation, and internal checks.
“We’ll do phishing expeditions and when someone clicks, we send them to training,” he says. “It doesn’t make them happy but gets them into the habit of being more careful.”
Cybersecurity as well as company efficiency should also be bolstered by the cloud migration Miller also oversees. That too has been an ongoing process with Terumo having been used to storing data on premise.
That migration should benefit another project, as Terumo is expanding an Allentown, Pennsylvania, logistics site to get closer to the lucrative New England market for medical parts. Miller’s been working with the facilities director, ensuring all IT needs are met: redundancies, circuits, firewalls, switches, access points and more.
It’s all part of being an IT leader, says the 56-year-old Miller who hopes to ascend to chief technology officer before too long. In the meantime, he says his present responsibilities are plenty fulfilling.
A team player
“I enjoy interacting with departments and I’ve got a great team,” he says. “The average service credit of my people is over 10 years.”
Only he rarely seems them in person, Miller’s 10 direct reports dispersed nationally to support 35 locations. Whereas pre-COVID-19, Miller often was in Terumo’s California office—the same building for 30 years—he and his team have since functioned remotely and says the only difference in productivity has been for the better.
Sure, he says, it’s nice to pat somebody on the back for a job well done but, post-pandemic, everyone’s gotten comfortable on their own and through Microsoft Teams. That does, however, present another factor to consider when hiring, Miller looking for indications that a candidate is self-sufficient.
“I don’t know if I’m good at hiring or just lucky,” he chuckles. “But I’ve been able to find and keep good people, and they’ve been a big part of my success.”
Miller reckons he’ll be around for another 10 or 12 years. The company’s in expansion mode with innovations on the cardiovascular and neurological fronts, and that means increased vigilance of intellectual properties, as well as sustaining cloud migration and tending to whatever other infrastructure needs arise. Each of Terumo’s subsidiaries expands through growth, mergers and acquisitions, and that necessitates much data integration.
Besides, he and his wife of 30 years have two children in college and a third bound for higher education next September. That alone is incentive to not take early retirement.
Himself a 1989 University of California undergrad with degrees in social ecology and psychology, Miller turned to networking and product development. Then came an IT supervisory role at 3M where his tenure coincided with him earning a master’s in computer science at California State University, Fullerton. He finished that advanced degree around the time when Terumo bought 3M HealthCare, and it positioned him for subsequent roles that continue.
On-the-job demands and the need to self-educate notwithstanding, Miller says he enjoys a sensible work-life balance in southern California, sometimes venturing north to the Napa Valley wine country and otherwise keeping fit through walking and playing racquetball.
“I’m a racquetball nut,” he says. “Racquetball is all about angles and hitting the ball where your opponent isn’t. There’s something about angles that interest me. Not that angles really relate to IT.”
View this feature in the Winter I 2023 Edition here.
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