Empowering Business Growth Through Personal & Professional Experiences — In conversation with Susan Ellen Stephens, MD

Point of View
3 min readJan 30, 2024
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Emerging companies need to be equipped to handle new perspectives and accept constructive criticism — these are vital tools for continuous growth and identification of key challenges. Sharing such successful entrepreneurial journeys and her wise expertise to newer companies is Dr. Susan Ellen Stephens.

We are in conversation with Dr. Stephens, an orthopaedic surgeon, business owner, consultant and entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience. Dr. Stephens offers consultation to various companies that are involved with social and environmental justice, and finance. She offers her personal and professional experiences that inform her approach and outlook on running a business.

Dr. Stephens, you’ve been a successful entrepreneur for over 30 years and have brought an entrepreneurial mindset to everything you’ve done, including practicing orthopaedic spine surgery. How did you reach this stage and how are using your acumen, expertise, and experience to help benefit startups and companies through your consultations?

“In my journey, a critical asset contributing to my success has been a commitment to lifelong learning. I firmly believe in the imperative of continual learning and approach every project with a mindset devoid of any ‘know-it-all’ attitude. The key to sustained success lies in adopting an ethos of continuous learning and self-improvement. As an enthusiastic learner, I embrace the opportunity to acknowledge and rectify my mistakes, fostering a transparent outlook.

I consistently approach projects with a ‘ready to learn’ perspective, conducting thorough research to gain diverse perspectives and broaden my horizons. Engaging with multiple viewpoints and approaches to a given topic is, in my view, immensely fulfilling and enlightening.”

As a successful spine surgeon, you built an incredible legacy with teams who can rely on each other, ran a very financially sound business and brought in a well-rounded experience to the table. You achieved all these milestones along with being the first in many. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

“While being the first in certain endeavors can be a source of pride, it also bears the weight of responsibility. As the fifth Black female Orthopaedic surgeon in the country and one of the first Black female spine surgeons, encountering individuals who are still ‘the first’ in their respective institutions, cities, or states is surprising. While this is an achievement, it underscores persistent systemic barriers in society. The fact that individuals still claim to be the ‘first’ in contemporary times is, in my opinion, indicative of an ongoing issue. Being the first is almost synonymous with being the last in the current landscape.”

Do you think that being the first can also be a stepping stone for others? Do you think that you can use your experience as being the first and guide others?

“Being the first can indeed present an opportunity to serve as a role model and mentor, sharing experiences to guide others on their journeys. My father, as the first Black Orthopaedic surgeon and prominent private practitioner in Ohio, had a profound impact that inspired many. As mentors, we must leverage our resources to assist others, facilitating their upward trajectory and contributing to broader representation and equity. I was appointed by the governor to be on the Ohio State medical board, J&J DePuy Synthes DEI Presidents Council to address healthcare disparities, and promote a diverse orthopaedic industry. It is an honor to keep pushing this mission forward.”

Thank you for your time, Dr. Stephens.

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Point of View

A point of view is the angle of considering things. It’s a platform for people with a vision and a story to tell.