Tajanae Mallett – Arjo Inc.
Tajanae Mallett remembers the moment when her life and career collided.
As she stood inside a rehabilitation center where her mother was recovering from hip-replacement surgery, Mallett looked around the room and all of its contents—spacious, comfortable, replete with bells and whistles—and noticed something that landed like a revelation: there were products manufactured by her employer.
It’s an image Mallett says she’ll never forget. In fact, it’s proved a guiding force in her daily work as general counsel for the U.S. arm of Sweden-based Arjo, a global medical technology company.
“All I have to do is think about that to realize that everything we do and everything we make here at the company is affecting someone’s family member or a worker at the hospital,” Mallett says. “We are improving the lives of patients through our products. That’s powerful stuff.”
Twist of fate
When Mallett came through Arjo’s door in 2013, she’d just graduated from the Valparaiso University School of Law. Little did she know that the temp job she picked up would evolve into the career she has today.
“No one was more surprised than me,” she says. “My initial position was supposed to last three months, but I was the only person on the team to survive the full length of the contract, so they kept renewing and extending my time.”
She started at the bottom, reading sales contracts and other forms in the company’s real estate division, a crash course Mallett credits for giving her important insights into the company.
Personal growth, corporate development
In the years that followed, Arjo spun off from its former parent corporation, The Getinge Group.
Arjo, the Malmo, Sweden-based company, manufactures products and solutions for ergonomic patient handling, personal hygiene, disinfection, diagnostics and the prevention of pressure ulcers and venous thromboembolism in acute and long-term care facilities and for the government.
All told, the company has 6,200 employees in 100 countries; the North American market represents about 42 percent of its business and operates in all 50 states with 830 employees.
As the company morphed and grew, so did Mallett’s responsibilities. She tackled everything from depositions and M&A work to reviewing and negotiating contracts. Due to the spin-off in late 2017 and other reorganizations, the position of general counsel was created.
“I just kept going because with each change came opportunity,” she says. “My life as an attorney at Arjo changed.”
Taking it to tech
To ensure the volume and variety of her legal work are thoroughly accounted for, Mallett has implemented technological upgrades across the board.
More specifically, she’s working to implement processes and procedures to help streamline the department: developing a new contract management process as well as tracking operations and transactions for everything from real estate and litigation to bankruptcy and IT work—the list goes on.
She’s also investing time and resources into improving the company’s document management processes through things like electronic signatures for contracts—a move that will save time and resources.
“The software is more innovative, offering faster response times, whether it’s to those in the field or to our customers,” Mallett says. “The changes we are making are moving the needle in a positive way with our Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)—one of the ways we measure success.”
Technological solutions are also being used to develop more innovative products.
“We’re committed to making products that answer to the needs of people in the medical field—which are ever-changing,” she says. “Even down to the brakes levers on the hospital beds, we seek to make the products easier to use and safer as well.”
Power of the people
Admittedly, technology is only part of the equation for operational success; for Mallett, it’s the people that matter most.
Given the shifting dynamics of the health care industry, Arjo’s business needs are in a state of constant flux. Accordingly, Mallett spends time assessing the talents of those on her team, to leverage each person’s unique skillset and dedicate it to specific projects.
“The people I work with are amazing, and my goal is to put them in the right place. We all have a passion for the job and the work that we do—always with our customers and clients in mind,” she says.
Start ‘em early
That passion for her work was identified right off the bat.
In 7th grade, Mallett took a knowledge, skills and abilities test and was told that being a corporate lawyer was her best career option—she made a note of that.
Educationally, she got her start earning her bachelor’s in business management at Eastern Illinois University in 2010 before making the transition to law school.
While she garnered considerable experience in law school—working as a law clerk and research assistant, even working in a domestic violence clinic—the temp job at Arjo was the step that allowed Mallett to truly hit her stride.
“Coming into the business that way allowed me to learn a lot about the company and was much better than coming in and applying for a legal job off the street,” she says.
Her business studies also served her well in her ever-evolving in-house role.
“Doing everything from finance and accounting to auditing in my business background were skills that proved to be very helpful to me,” Mallett says.
The greatest challenge in her role: finding time to fit it all in. Each day can present itself with reviewing litigation, addressing accounting issues and researching medical laws domestically and internationally. Thank goodness, she says, for delegating tasks.
“Like my coworkers, we believe in the business and know that someone’s loved one is at the other end of the contract,” Mallett says. “That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.”
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