From digital product launches, to remote working and daily check-ins with staff, Suzanne Moloney talks us through the challenges she faced during lockdown - and the noodles that got her through.
On the challenges of a pandemic...
From a business perspective, I’ve learned that we have an incredible, resilient, team who will work hard from any location. It is important that we can still get HidraWear wound dressings to HS [Hidradenitis Suppurativa] patients despite the pandemic and we’ve worked hard from our living rooms and kitchen to make that happen. Adapting our plans for launching HidraWear in America was by far the biggest challenge. The original launch plan included a five-week tour of the States meeting HS patient groups and clinics. That was planned for April 2020 but obviously had to be cancelled. Instead, the launch was purely digital. I’m relieved to say that HidraWear is now helping American patients as well as HS patients in the UK, Ireland and Europe.
...and the opportunities
With everyone worldwide being home, in lockdown and self-isolating, it’s meant that we have had the opportunity to engage and offer support to more HS patients online. There are amazing communities on Facebook, Reddit, Instagram and specific HS sites where patients talk to each other and look for advice. These communities can be a lifeline for HS patients who are really struggling. The pain and symptoms of HS can really take their toll on patients’ mental health.
On remote working...
We have already decided to opt for a hybrid approach for the whole team. The pandemic has proven that it’s possible to have this flexibility and still be productive.
...and motivating staff
We have a daily check in with the whole HidraWear team which we use as an opportunity to check in with one another as well as discuss our work. I sometimes send random little gifts to the team and we chat throughout the day using teams and on the phone. We definitely have lots of catching up to do when it comes to celebrating different occasions and milestones achieved. Everyone on the team by nature is highly motivated and engaged. I trust everyone to manage their time and plan their days. They always get the job done. I’m incredibly grateful for my team.
On the “new normal”...
I think that we, as a country, will go back to the way it was to a degree. Hopefully though, we have learned lessons from the pandemic that we will take forward with us. The flexibility for staff to work from home is a big one but also the importance of work-life balance for our physical and mental health. Communities have really come together, online and off, during the lockdowns and I hope that that neighbourly lifestyle will stay.
....which will feature Zoom
Both business travel and Zoom are in our future... Business travel to meet international colleagues, and in our case, national and international HS patients will definitely be back on the agenda. Zoom and video conferencing in general have proven their value for team meetings and collaboration.
On personal challenges...
Personally, my biggest challenge was where to live during the lockdowns. I am from Dublin but HidraWear is based in Galway. HidraWear is at an important stage of growth, so there hasn’t been much time for hobbies. The time saved on commuting is ploughed into the business. I did start making my own kombucha though, which is delicious, and I’ve taken a few online courses too.
...and restrictions lifting
I can’t wait to see the whole team together. We are lucky to have such a great group of people who are united in their ambition to help people with HS. I’m looking forward to getting everyone together for dinner or drinks and celebrating the missed occasions, both in terms of business, and outside the office. One of my team graduated from college this year, another moved into his new home and another became a homeowner - all big events that should have been marked with a celebration. Then the company itself has hit some big milestones. Our first product was listed on the Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) this year, and is available to patients through the medical card and drug payment scheme. We also have released three new products this year. This definitely would have warranted a party, so I look forward to celebrating with my team when we can.
On her top takeaway during the pandemic:
I love Jalan Jalan (www.jalanjalan.ie) — their noodles are addictive.
Suzanne Moloney is founder and chief executive of HidraMed Solutions which has developed a novel dressing system aimed at those suffering from the incurable skin disease, Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).