At Intuitive, we believe inclusivity and diversity are keys to unlock a better future for our team members, for hospitals, physicians and their patients, and for health care equity around the globe. And our employee resource groups (ERGs)—BLACK at Intuitive (Brave Leaders & Allies for the Advancement of Community through Knowledge), Diverse-Abilities, ¡HOLA! (Hispanic Origins & Latino Advocacy), InPAC (Intuitive Pan-Asian Community), PRIDE at Intuitive, VETS (Veterans Engaged for Teamwork and Success), and WIN (Women Intuitive Network)—are helping lead the way. Below, Priti Sahu (Senior Talent Sourcer, TA, and InPAC Co-chair), Peter Geng (Mechanical Engineer and InPAC founder), and Neeta Mhatre (VP, Global Program Management Office and InPAC Executive Sponsor) share what they’re working on day to day, what it’s been like to help build InPAC, and what they’re excited about as the group and their careers grow.
What brought each of you to Intuitive?
Priti: I joined the Talent Acquisition team in 2017 when it was still pretty small—we had 8 or 10 recruiters, and I was one of the first three sourcers hired in the Sourcing team. I come from a software and life sciences background, and one of the things that attracted me to Intuitive was its mission and purpose. Robotic-assisted surgery truly saves lives. I also felt connected to the culture immediately when I interviewed. There was this sense of belonging that I loved.
Peter: I joined in 2017 after doing an internship here, and honestly, Intuitive was the only company that had everything I was looking for. I wanted to do work that helps people, so health care was perfect, and I also wanted to build pioneering technology, specifically in robotics. During my internship, I realized that while the tech stack here is deep, it’s also very broad. We have three product families—da Vinci multiport, da Vinci single port, and the Ion endoluminal system—and I’ve already been able to work on all of them; the freedom we have to rotate and get to know different teams and parts of the product is phenomenal. I think you could spend your whole career here and never get bored.
Neeta: I was hired in 2015 to build Intuitive’s first Program Management Office, or PMO. We had just launched a project for the da Vinci surgical system, and the company was only about 2,000 people. Beyond the opportunity itself, what attracted me most was the patients-first philosophy, which we believe in very strongly—every decision we make is geared toward helping physicians serve patients. I remember at one all-hands meeting, we had everyone stand up who had been through surgery, either themselves or with a loved one, and it was a majority of the room. It gave me goose bumps—seeing how this product we’re building can make a difference for so many people.
Tell us about the work you do.
Neeta: Most of the projects at Intuitive run through the PMO; essentially, we’re responsible for executing the strategies that the business unit general managers lay out—making sure that the right tasks and decisions happen at the right time, and that we have the people and resources we need on each project. Our CEO calls us the circulatory system of Intuitive, which is a humbling position to be in. Our team started with about 10 people and now has more than 100, so we’ve grown a lot in eight years. I think that speaks to the fact that when you bring value here, people really make an effort to help you along.
Priti: In my current role, I’m building talent pipelines and concentrating on sourcing candidates for a very specific set of roles within the Product Operations team. I enjoy the challenge of it. Many of our positions are difficult to fill. For example, if you’re a human factors engineer or a clinical development engineer, you might be one of only a handful of qualified candidates in the country. So when I close a role, it’s especially rewarding. I have also been involved with many talent-sourcing projects, working closely with my manager.
Peter: I’m a new product development mechanical engineer for the Ion system, which is used to help diagnose lung cancer. My job is to think about patient needs and physician needs, work with our product management teams to distill that into technical requirements, and then design the robots, including the electrical, mechanical, and software systems. Then we do prototyping and testing, move into formal product development, and eventually handle field support. That last part is especially interesting to me, not only because of the technical challenges themselves but also because everything we learn goes into the next iteration of the product—it’s a constant loop of improvement.
Why did you get involved with the Intuitive Pan-Asian Community (InPAC) employee resource group—or in Peter’s case, why did you found it?
Peter: We launched a few years ago, and I actually didn’t go into it with the intention of starting an ERG. I’d been thinking about some of the differences between the culture I was raised in and the American workplace—there’s a level of comfort with conflict I didn’t have, and I thought it would be helpful to talk about it with some of my peers from similar backgrounds and get some pointers. It really made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I thought, “What if we could extend this conversation across Intuitive?”
So I talked to Hazel Wing, who’s part of our Inclusion and Diversity team. She was already working on creating ERGs, and she suggested recruiting some people to start one for the Pan-Asian community. I remember rushing into Neeta’s office and asking if she would join; we wanted some strong leaders to help steer us through these conversations, and I knew she’d done that throughout her career. Luckily, she jumped on board along with another VP, Jaime Wong, and the rest was history—with a lot of support from Intuitive, of course.
Neeta: Peter was so excited; his energy drew me in. And having been part of similar groups at other companies, I knew they were really important, not only for connecting people from similar backgrounds, but also to understand the diversity within a group—some InPAC members were born and raised in the U.S., for example, while others moved here or have never lived here at all. And I already knew we’d have strong allies within Intuitive. In 2018, before the ERG started, we’d done a potluck in the park for Diwali, and so many people showed up.
Priti: In 2019, before COVID-19 hit us, I hosted our first-ever Diwali event for the TA team. Some of my teammates had asked about Diwali, and I thought, “What better way to explain it?” It really was such a success.
When I heard the ERG was forming, I asked Peter about it, and he invited me to be a co-chair. I feel honored to have that platform to make an impact. Being part of the ERG provides such a sense of belonging and connection—we’re able to support people with similar experiences. And as Neeta said, it provides an opportunity to share our cultures, as well, because InPAC members represent many different cultures, and we’re all coming together.
Tell us about your InPAC experience so far. What is it like to help lead the group, and what are some of your favorite memories?
Priti: I think we’ve learned a lot over the past few years about how to make events run smoothly. When we started, our main goal was just to build up membership, so we organized a lot of social events—we’d do something every month. And we did grow quickly; we started with fewer than 20 people and we’re more than 800 now.
Neeta: It’s a bit of an Intuitive phenomenon—when we get into something, we get into it in a big way. But we did burn ourselves out a little that first year, trying to do everything. It’s so easy to overcommit yourself. Plus, several other ERGs were forming at the same time, and so an event every month from each of us was suddenly a lot. I think we’ve learned now that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if we just send an email with info about a holiday—we did that for the Obon festival, which is Japan’s Day of the Dead—it can still make an amazing impact.
As far as favorite memories, our first pilot event was a lot of fun. It was for Lunar New Year; we handed out the traditional red envelopes and a bunch of people gathered. It just felt very natural. That was 2020, if I remember correctly?
Peter: That’s right—it was right before lockdown for COVID-19.
Neeta: The team had to get creative after that. We started doing online events. One of my favorites was for Diwali; we had Mindy Rani, an Intuitive colleague who’s also a Bollywood dance instructor, lead a session, and we all stood up in our living rooms and followed along. That was late 2020, so we were all at home, and it was an incredible feeling. Everyone was talking about it the next day. We felt connected again.
Peter: That first Diwali event was wonderful—we had a great turnout, especially on the India team. My favorite part was the trivia game. Oh, my goodness, so much intensity and passion—people really wanted to win! The trivia questions were hard; I think even a lot of people of Indian descent didn’t know the answers, and I certainly didn’t. So it was a lot of fun, and also a great way to learn.
What are you looking forward to, both personally and for InPAC?
Neeta: I’m in the middle of a transition—I’m about to move into a new role as VP of China strategy and operations. I think that will connect my InPAC experience even more powerfully to the rest of my work, which I’m looking forward to. For the ERG itself, we just had our first in-person Diwali event since the group started, which was awesome—so I’m excited to have people gather together in one place for upcoming events. And longer term, I’m excited to see the group and its members grow. We’ve built up a lot of momentum and learned to delegate as new people get involved—I used to attend every event, and I still show up for as many as I can, but I also love just seeing them appear on my calendar.
Priti: The work I’ve done with InPAC has strengthened my passion for leadership. And it’s accelerated my career development, because of the incredible people I’ve been able to work with and also the new skills I’ve developed. I’ve learned about design, event planning, branding, project management. It’s empowered me to get more involved both within Intuitive and beyond; I’ve started presenting at talent acquisition conferences, and that’s all because of the confidence and experience I’ve gained with this group.
Peter: I’d echo what Priti said. I’ve learned so much, too, and gained so many new skills. And it’s exciting to see how the group itself is evolving as we grow—I just invited one of our members to become a co-chair; I’m handing off some of my responsibilities to her, and she’s doing really well. I think it’s good to give new people the chance to take on roles they’re interested in, and it’s great for the group going forward.