Pumping up people supply to build heart valves

Workforce planning at Sorin Group Canada focuses on finding highly specialized talent
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 02/17/2009

Building an aortic pericardial heart valve is no easy task. The intricate medical device — measuring mere millimetres — requires highly specialized skills in its production and engineering. So for a Burnaby, B.C.-based company that manufactures this product, workforce planning is particularly challenging, thanks to a small talent pool.

Sorin Group Canada is the only Canadian company to make a tissue heart valve, through its Mitroflow division. Last year the company received approval from the Food and Drug Association (FDA) in the United States, which meant it had to fill 60 new positions in anticipation of increased production in 2009.

“The nature of our product requires us to kind of ramp up our hiring at certain points,” says Judith Thompson, senior manager of HR at Sorin Group. “We need to know ahead of time, so to speak, what our sales forecasts are going to be. So it does take some planning and some crunching at times.”