081: Seeking to Understand First, with Sandy Black

In this episode, I sit with Sandy Black who’s Vice President of North America Commercial Operations at LivaNova, a global medical technology company. Sandy’s responsible for several departments within the commercial side of the organization including commercial data and analytics, sales incentives, commercial excellence and training, customer service contracts and pricing, as well as case management and clinical nurse education. Sandy shares her journey how solving problems in R&D led her to leading commercial teams.


  • Seek to understand, ask questions, and don’t make assumptions
  • You can’t make assumptions about teams just sitting in your office. You must get out there and connect with people
  • Using questions during heated conversations can help deescalate situations
  • It’s OK to allow teams to fail especially when the decisions aren’t business critical.  It can be a great learning experience for all
  • When leading large projects, it’s critical to have advocates and buy-in at all levels to not only support your mission, but to help with pull-through at the ground level

Leadership Jam Sessions' Executive Producer, James Christie

When James is not busy leading commercial teams in the biopharmaceutical industry, you can find him behind the scenes orchestrating all that happens for his brainchild - The Leadership Jam Session Podcast. As our Executive Producer, James' background of more than 20 years in Marketing, Sales, and Training, combined with a passion for business and leadership education, have all inspired the very direction we take with delivering our content. James holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University.