LOCK HAVEN – John Yonkin, who graduated from Lock Haven University in 1981, has had a three-decade career in which he rose from salesperson to CEO. In February, Yonkin took a virtual tour of LHU to chronicle his business experiences, connecting them to the course concepts covered in Professor Cori Myers’ Comprehensive Strategic Management Course for Senior Business and Accounting Students.
After graduating from Lock Haven State College in 1981 and serving six years in the military, Yonkin began his career in Littleton, Colorado, selling medical diagnostic equipment for American Hospital Supply. He was one of the company’s top sellers in Cleveland, Ohio, before his division was sold in 1989 to a company called Medisense, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Leadership at Medisense made Yonkin a Marketing Director who was also responsible for new product research and development. There he was responsible for several product launches and the development of many new technologies.
After the sale of Medisense in 1996, Yonkin stopped over in Menlo Park, Calif., Then Cambridge as Director of Business Development for Telogy and Director of National Accounts for Genzyme Genetics, before being appointed Vice President of Sales. and marketing for Inverness Medical Technology Inc. in 1997.
From there, Yonkin continued to climb the corporate ladder. He was President of Inverness Medical Nutritionals / Pharmaceuticals from 2003 to 2007 and eventually reached the position of Director of Operations for parent company Alere. At the time, Alere was the largest rapid diagnostics company in the medical market in the world with more than 18,000 employees and annual sales of $ 4 billion.
In 2012, Yonkin left Alere for the opportunity to be CEO of Immunetics Inc., where he was responsible for the company’s strategic and tactical operations as it began to commercialize its unique technologies. Yonkin led a successful turnaround of the business, bringing it to profitability and finalizing the sale of the business, achieving a positive liquidity event for shareholders in 2016.
During his session with LHU students, Yonkin focused on topics such as acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, hostile takeovers, gaining first-mover advantage, outsourcing , being a low-cost leader, doing international business, understanding the culture, raising capital and more.
“John described relevant and rich examples of how his extensive work experience illustrated the concepts of the Strategic Movements and Positioning course,” Myers said. “He explained how his companies gained a competitive advantage using some of these strategies, as well as lessons learned when developing and implementing strategies that required original thinking and alternative paths to be successful. “
Yonkin wanted students to focus on leadership and listening skills as well. He said that each of these skills are essential characteristics of any successful executive.
“You can accomplish anything if you have the right balance of money, people, resources and time” Yonkin said. “Organizations often talk about leadership and they train basic leadership skills like communication and delegation, but they don’t go one step further to train their managers and executives on things like tactical leadership, small-scale leadership. groups and team leadership. “
He went on to describe how supervising a group or groups is different from being a tactical leader. Executives and CEOs must be strategic leaders, he said. Their job is not to tell their teams what to do, but to provide strategic goals with a vision to achieve them, while providing managers with the resources to execute the goals.
He also stressed the importance for all good leaders to be active listeners. “Listening is a skill that any successful manager, executive and CEO must develop and perfect on a daily basis” Yonkin said. “If you can’t listen, it’s going to be very difficult to be successful. “
“When you become a leader or CEO, your job is to be a strategic leader” he added. “You set goals and provide strategic vision. Then you let your tactical leaders develop the plan, and as the CEO, you get the resources to help your leaders reach the goal.