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In MSP’s collaborative and supportive medical community, Zahia has found the perfect place to grow as a professional.
Operations Quality Engineer, Smiths Medical
Growing up in a small town, Zahia Bartz had a picture of what life in the city would be like: busy, terrible traffic, and small inconveniences that add up to big headaches. What she found in MSP, however, has been anything but the sort.
Zahia’s journey to MSP starts with a summer internship with Smiths Medical and has evolved into a career as dynamic as the lifestyle opportunities she’s fallen in love with across the region. MSP’s collaborative medical community and the strong support she’s received from mentors and managers in her numerous positions at Smiths Medical assures her that MSP is the perfect place to grow as a professional. Let’s meet Zahia!
Q: Why did you decide to join the Med Tech/Med Device industry?
My initial interest in Med Tech started when I was younger and found out I had a genetic issue that led to multiple knee surgeries. After that first surgery I took engineering classes in high school and that was really where my interest in design and process development sparked.
After college I knew I wanted to try get a job in the med device world because medical technology is always changing and improving, there are many different opportunities to try out within the industry, and the jobs are very secure. The medical device industry is also known to be very tight knit, and the opportunities are endless once you start networking.
Q: How did you first get connected with Smiths Medical?
I joined Smiths Medical as an intern, and returned the second summer because of the connections with people I had made the year before. The people I worked with were the biggest reason for my return, but the opportunities I was provided also played a huge role. My manager at the time really valued my interests and gave me meaningful work that seemed to improve work and processes for people.
Q: Since joining Smiths Medical, how has your career evolved?
When I interned for Smiths Medical I had the opportunity to try out 2 different positions – a project management internship and a quality engineering internship. After my second internship I was offered to stay on full-time as a quality engineer in the operations department. My title has not changed since starting that role, but with the variety of work I get to do it sometimes feels like it has!
Q: You spoke earlier about the power of networking in MSP’s Med Tech industry. Are you in any professional organizations?
I am an active member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE); I serve on Smiths Medical’s SWE leadership team and have attended multiple conferences through the society. I am also a member of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), but was more active in that during college.
Beyond professional networks, MSP also offers a strong ecosystem of service-based and community organizations. I am an active member at our local church in Roseville, and my husband and I host a small group every week at our home for other couples from the church. I have also volunteered in the past for SWE events in the Minneapolis area, like the Spark Slime, and Speed STEM event.
Q: Now a resident of Woodbury and raising two children, how has your perspective of MSP changed since “boomeranging” back?
Growing up here, I think I took for granted just how great of a place MSP is to raise a family. I’ve had friends and coworkers who also moved away for a while, or came to MSP from elsewhere, who have shared the same feelings.
From a professional perspective, I have an even stronger appreciation for how progressive hospice care is in Minnesota. Truly, the state is on the frontlines of some of the most innovative changes we’re seeing across the practice. The focus on holistic care, communication and support between doctors and hospice RNs, as well as the strength of the industry network have really stood out.
Q: What about your career in Med Tech has surprised you most thus far?
The variety, challenges, and opportunities. With a big company like Smiths Medical, things are always changing. I have had the chance to travel, to try new positions, to work with manufacturing lines, to work with quality systems, and a variety of other things. I really enjoy the “craziness” and constant variety of work I have had the opportunity to do. It allows me to learn so much and develop as an engineer more than I think I would at other companies.
Q: Let’s talk a bit about your experience as a newcomer. What has surprised you most about moving to MSP?
I grew up in a smaller city, so when I got a job with Smiths Medical I was a little nervous to move to MSP. The business of the cities, the terrible traffic — these were the type of things I worried about, but since I have lived here haven’t bothered me.
I have been surprised with the amount of activity that is always going on in communities – there is always some an event happening. It is also nice having many so many stores and businesses close by, you don’t have to drive far to get everyday things or find new places to explore.
Q: What would you tell others considering a move to MSP for work?
MSP is a great place to work, especially when you are just starting out or making a career move. The region is a large medical industry hub with opportunities always presenting themselves. It’s a nice place for other industries as well; there are a lot of large companies in the area, and I think that offers something for everyone.
Also, I alluded to it earlier, but I truly value what MSP offers outside work. The region is large enough where there is always something going on, but not too big where you feel like you don’t know anyone. It doesn’t take long to get outside of the metro, whether you are going up north for the lakes or just outside of the cities to explore. There are events happening all over the Twin Cities throughout the weeks, and there is so much to do outside year-round.