Q&A with James Ingebrand, president and general manager of 3M ESPE

March 21, 2014

Issue 3

James Ingebrand was recently named the new president and general manager of 3M ESPE. Much of Ingebrand’s 30-year career at 3M has been spent in healthcare, including a previous stint at 3M ESPE as the global business director.   Ingebrand most recently served as president and general manager of 3M Drug Delivery Systems. 

James Ingebrand was recently named the new president and general manager of 3M ESPE. Much of Ingebrand’s 30-year career at 3M has been spent in healthcare, including a previous stint at 3M ESPE as the global business director.  

Ingebrand most recently served as president and general manager of 3M Drug Delivery Systems. 

Congratulations on your new role and coming back into the dental industry. How have you seen the industry change from the time you left until now?

I was only away from the dental industry for about three years, so most of the changes I see are continuations of some of the macro trends that have been taking shape for some time. Overall, it’s been nice to see the industry recover a bit from the great recession.

Beyond that, the continued evolution in digital technology and workflows keeps moving forward.   This means even more robust, simple and accurate tools for dental professionals.  Another thing I’d point to is continuing globalization and the incredible speed that techniques and information move around the world. 

You said in your introductory release that you felt this was an “exciting time” for the dental industry. Why do you feel that way?

The trends we just discussed are all contributing to the feeling. With many practices moving into the digital arena, the efficiency and accuracy with which they can work is making big leaps forward. Dentists around the world also have more opportunities to connect with each other and share information.

3M ESPE has been named as the Most Innovative Company in the industry for the last nine years. What do you see is the main reason for the company winning this award so many times?

I think it comes back to 3M’s core advantage as a highly diversified technology company.  At its heart, 3M is a technology company, and our scientists have access to over 40 core technologies that can be mixed and matched and shared throughout the company.  So although 3M ESPE Division is focused entirely on the dental market, we have access to all of these technologies that are part of a $30-plus billion corporation.

You have literally worked your way up the 3M corporate ladder. How does this give you perspective in your new role?

There are a couple different things I would point to here.  One is that, as we’ve just discussed, 3M is a large company. We have operations all over the world.  By having been at 3M a long time, I have had roles at our St. Paul, MN headquarters and in international locations; I’ve been in technical, marketing and business management positions. 

All these different experiences are invaluable as my new role now is largely getting alignment – on operational issues as well as strategy - with people around the world.  “Walking a mile in the shoes” in many of those positions myself, understanding the different points-of-view, is a big advantage in getting our organization aligned around making things better for our customers.

The other advantage of having been in many different parts of the healthcare business is I have gained experience in many different situations:  different business models, licensing, M&A, distribution, contractual joint ventures and many different collaborative arrangements. 

The dental market, while certainly highly competitive, is also very dynamic in terms of different forms of agreements, partnerships and collaboration that happen between companies.  I believe my experience will help us think more broadly about a wider range options for interacting with our customers, partners and potential partners all over the world.

What are some of your near- and long-term goals for 3M ESPE Dental?

3M ESPE has a great history of connecting with customers and bringing out new products, so in the near-term I hope to continue, and even accelerate that by expanding existing product lines, but also possibly moving into newer areas as well.

Beyond that, I want to make sure that we’re pushing the transition to more and more digital dentistry. We’re really excited about the direction we’re going with our 3M™ True Definition Scanner; we’ve got some best-in-class technology there and we want to build on that.

Ultimately our long-term success is going to be built around bringing real and lasting value to the dental professional and the patients that depend on those professionals. So one of the things I want to do in this role is get the entire organization focused on capturing new insights, things that today are not obvious to anyone.  That in turn, will allow us to bring fundamental, non-incremental benefits to dentistry.