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Focusing on education for better dentistry

Simon Campion, President and CEO of Dentsply Sirona. (Image: Dentsply Sirona)
Dental Tribune Middle East

Dental Tribune Middle East

Mon. 8 July 2024

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Simon Campion spoke with DTMEA at the 2024 DS World Dubai earlier this year to discuss insights gained from his first year as President and CEO of Dentsply Sirona.

Reflecting on your first two years as president and CEO, can you share some of the highlights and challenges?

Let’s start with the highlights. We have a great group of people at Dentsply Sirona – 15,000 employees who are committed to making the company more effective and to continue to deliver great solutions for our customers.

Another highlight is the comprehensive product portfolio assessment we completed in late summer last year in which we surveyed 2,000 dental professionals in the US, Germany and China. From that survey, we confirmed that we have no meaningful product gaps.

The third highlight has been the quality of our clinical education offering. We commit a lot of resources to providing great education, and we know that it makes a difference to the practice of dentistry. In the past 18 months, we held DS World events in Dubai, Las Vegas, Italy, and Spain. Our Asia Pacific team held there second DS World Dubai and we are preparing for our first DS World Asia Pacific in Japan this year. Additionally, we will also have a DS World in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Dentsply Sirona went through quite some changes before I became the CEO. My early priorities were continuing to improve our efficiency and agility as an organization. We built on work that was already in progress and introduced a new operating model with a simplified structure. We also enhanced the customer experience by leveraging digital solutions. And we have elevated even further the role of quality in the organisation.

Dentsply Sirona has a history of innovation over 130 years strong. We’ve steadily worked to develop solutions that meet the needs of our customers and help them advance confidently as dentistry evolves and transforms. That has always been done with a commitment to quality and continuous improvement.

Would you please share some key achievements or updates made to the company’s strategy since your leadership transition? How does Dentsply Sirona plan to navigate the upcoming industry trends?

There are lot of opportunities, especially when it comes to digital dentistry. We have been first to the market when it comes to intraoral scanners, and we’ve got Primemill and Primeprint and now DS Core, —and focus on supporting dentist transitioning their practices into digital workflows as still most dentists globally don’t have a scanner. This is one of the reasons why we invest in education, and that’s why we drive the benefits of efficiency and improved workflows. We think that DS Core is going to be very meaningful to the future of dentistry.

We launched DS Core in May of 2022 and since its launch, we have released numerous value- adding features, workflows and services for our users. For example, we launched the communication canvas and the SureSmile Simulator in September last year. We believe we have only scratched the surface of DS Core’s capabilities, and we’ve seen impactful improvement in the adoption of DS Core every time we’ve rolled out new clinical functionality.

Another important trend has to do with the demographics of dentistry. Women make up an increasing share of dental professionals and a majority of dental students in many countries. It's important that we continue to support women in dentistry, listen to their specific needs, and work hard to take those needs into our development process.

Also, there is a lot of potential for our company and for our industry overall to improve the delivery of dental care globally, making it more accessible, especially to those who have traditionally faced barriers.

Earlier this year, Newsweek named Dentsply Sirona one of America’s Greenest Companies. Three years ago, the company launched its sustainability strategy, “BEYOND: Taking action for a brighter world”. What progress has been made over the past year in implementing sustainable practices within the company and industry? Can you share updates on the Sustainability Educational Curriculum and its impact on dental professionals? How is Dentsply Sirona contributing to the broader sustainability goals of the dental industry?

Our sustainability strategy is fundamental to our mission of transforming dentistry and improving oral health globally. The commitment to it begins at the top with our board of directors, and it goes through our entire organisation. We have multiple goals around it—healthy planet, healthy smiles, healthy business—and we’re convinced we are on the right path. So far, we are making important progress on the goals that we’ve set out to achieve. For example, we’ve already achieved our 2025 goal for reducing indirect emissions that are part of our Scope 1 & 2 targets. We’re committed to reaching net-zero carbon emissions, and our actions were recognised, as you mentioned, by Newsweek’s ranking.

The work that we do with Smile Train, helping to treat children with clefts, is extremely important to us. We’ve supported over 2,700 surgeries through this partnership. It has transformed these children’s lives. We had a fantastic meeting in São Paulo last year in October where we met some of our partners who are helping to treat the indigenous population in the Brazilian rainforest. For this, a Primescan AC was transported up the Amazon on a canoe to help the indigenous communities access oral healthcare.

How has Dentsply Sirona responded to the challenges faced by the dental industry, including those related to the ongoing global situation?

Let me start with something related to your last question about sustainability. We have demonstrated our commitment to achieving and even exceeding our sustainability goals with respect to healthy planet, healthy smiles and healthy business, which is very important for our planet, for our employees and for our partners around the world. We have also demonstrated our commitment to improving effectiveness and efficiency of dental treatment through digital dentistry.

As a company, we are trying to be more efficient internally, in our systems and through our investments in Dentsply Sirona’s infrastructure. Additionally, we think that clinical education plays an incredibly important role in dentistry, in addressing future challenges, and in improving access to oral healthcare globally. We do in-person events like DS World in Las Vegas, in Madrid, in Italy, in Dubai and later in the year in Asia Pacific to meet clinical education needs, and we’re also expanding our education that’s available online.

So, we are enhancing our reach globally and improving access to great dental curricula and training by moving it online to support dental professionals. In the long term we’re going to grow our company and expand our reach through clinical education, improving access and bringing new technologies to bear in the digital space and by bringing existing technologies into new markets. For example, we have lunched SureSmile clear aligners in Brazil earlier this year.

There are a lot of challenges in the global environment of our industry, but we are trying to navigate them to the best of our ability. I think the decisions that we’ve made and the investments we are making will continue to help us navigate these challenges.

You previously mentioned a focus on providing a unique customer experience. How has the company enhanced its customer support and engagement strategies? Are there any new initiatives aimed at supporting customers in their practice growth?

I think we have become more customer-centric since I arrived. An example of this is the quarterly surveys we now do. I have already mentioned our product survey, which spoke to how robust our portfolio is. Kevin Boyle, our Chief Technology Officer, and his team will drive greater customer insights and a better understanding of needs for our R&D process so that the products we are developing even better meet key user needs in the future, whether that’s digitalization or specific to endodontics, aligner treatment, or software. We want our decisions to be aligned with global customer data, not only customer data from the US or from Germany. Our surveys are global in nature. We’re receiving input from around the world, and I think that’s really important moving forward.

DS Core is going to help us revolutionise the practice of dentistry as we think about the future of the industry and how dental care is delivered.

What are your goals and priorities for Dentsply Sirona in the second half of the year? How does the company plan to stay at the forefront of innovation and continue driving positive impacts in the dental industry?

I think 2023 was a year of building stability in our organisation, and now we want to move ahead at pace to deliver on the promises that we make to dental practitioners. We will continue our digital dentistry path, including technology and software. We will for sure continue to accelerate our clinical training offerings. As I mentioned, we will be holding a DS World Asia Pacific this year. We will continue to expand our presence with respect to training and expand our footprint for DS Core because we think it can help every dental practitioner to make their practices more efficient and more effective. I already mentioned our commitment to quality. Internally, we’re doing a lot of work around our operations to make ourselves more predictable and effective in delivering our products. We are committed to making our company a better partner and a better company to work for.

How has the company fostered employee engagement and maintained a positive company culture during these organisational changes?

I think that over the past 18 months, we have been very clear in our strategy and mission. Our leadership team is working hard to articulate our vision, to be transparent with our team members and to live the shared values of the company. We have created an award program for our teams and employees whose performance was exceptional, as well as for employees who have demonstrated a special commitment to the values of our company, also in the work they do for the communities in which they live. We are really excited about that because we are asking our employees to go above and beyond to help us re-establish our company as a great one to do business with and a great place to work.

It’s important that we recognise our employees when they do great work, whether as an individual or as a team. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are also extremely important, and we have monthly metrics that we assess ourselves against to guide the trajectory of our work culture.

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