Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expect. It’s a lesson that Christian Krautkramer learned while in school, as someone growing up believing he’d be a pediatrician.
“I always had a strong interest in health and medicine,” he explains. “All the way through high school and college, I was on a path to go to medical school, but at the end of college, I felt I needed time to make sure I wasn’t rushing it through.”
For a few years, Krautkramer worked for doctors at the American Medical Association, doing public policy and bioethics work. Seeing that the healthcare system was changing, he decided to get a public health degree before committing to medical school.
“I had some really great mentors at the Boston University School of Public Health who were lawyers, and I decided that was a better path for me,” Krautkramer shares.
When Krautkramer graduated, law firms were downsizing due to continued fallout from the 2008 recession. Luckily, Krautkramer landed a great opportunity in-house with GE Healthcare. GE Healthcare is a $18 billion-a-year global medical technology, diagnostics, and digital solutions innovator within the larger GE infrastructure that produces products and solutions advancing precision medicine. GE Healthcare enables clinicians to make faster, more informed decisions through intelligent medical devices, precision diagnostic pharmaceuticals, real-time data analytics, and revolutionary digital tools.
Krautkramer started within the company’s healthcare compliance team helping analyze and implement the new US Sunshine Act. Within a couple of years, he was tapped to lead global transparency for the entire company and put in charge of a multinational team responsible for the rapidly changing legal landscape around disclosing transactions with healthcare professionals and government officials. He moved into other roles, including leading compliance for GE Healthcare Digital, and eventually led compliance for all of GE’s Life Sciences platform.
Today, as part of GE Healthcare’s high-growth Pharmaceutical Diagnostics (PDx) business, Krautkramer is responsible for day-to-day legal, compliance, and policy work in across the Americas, his business’s largest market. Until recently, he also had global responsibilities for ethics, compliance, and risk for PDx, and had a stint leading the global market access and reimbursement team on an interim basis.
“Coming into this role in January 2021, I’ve been so lucky to come into team of outstanding lawyers based in the US. But as we’ve moved into a regionally focused model, our responsibilities now include everything from Hudson Bay, Canada, to Patagonia,” he says. “We have to deal with a variety of issues, from commercial contracting to product development to compliance and regulatory to policy and advocacy, and more.”
Krautkramer notes that now, more than ever, legal leaders need to use not only professional judgment with a strong focus on integrity and ethics but also an all-inclusive approach that includes driving strong business performance. This means checking egos at the door—a philosophy that has been at the forefront throughout his career.
“Being a lawyer in my company is really a team-based exercise,” he explains. “You have to be a servant leader for your business clients. If you’re coming to them with an attitude that you already know what they need and what to do, you’re going to fail fast.“I think it’s also about being able to simplify complex legal issues for business leaders. Legal leaders may need to worry about chapter and verse in statutes and regulations, but to have a meaningful outcome lawyers must be good translators and communicators,” he continues. “It’s not about directing what can and can’t be done . . . it’s about having your hands in the process. I’m so lucky to have the ability to learn from some of the best business leaders in the life sciences industry. Every day I’m discovering something new. It helps me be a better lawyer.”
Krautkramer’s business leadership expects lawyers to be working alongside them to come up with those solutions, and he’s proud that he and his team have been able to step up.
“You have to be a servant leader for your business clients. If you’re coming to them with an attitude that you already know what they need and what to do, you’re going to fail fast.”
“I hope that every day our team is lending our expertise to find opportunities and manage risk, and with our business colleagues together creating innovative solutions and driving results. I’m also really proud of how our leadership understands the value of doing things the right way,” he says. “It’s personally tremendously important to work for an organization where those at the top drive a culture where integrity and ethics is paramount. It’s not just about what’s being said, it’s about what’s being done. I hope the partnership with our legal and compliance team has contributed to that mindset.”
GE Healthcare’s culture of integrity directly helps not only its business but also the greater community it serves. The company’s legal team has history of strong pro bono efforts. Doing pro bono work has long been a part of Krautkramer’s DNA, and he is part of a group within GE Healthcare that helps prioritize that work among its lawyers.
“After the challenges of 2020, this year GE and GE Healthcare have turned again to our long-standing commitment to pro bono work. We are focusing on a few areas: one is immigration. We’re deeply interested in make sure people coming to this country for the first time are treated fairly and justly,” Krautkramer explains.
“Another is veterans’ issues,” he continues. “We have a lot of employees within GE who are veterans, and we care deeply about making sure we help those who have given so much to our country. The third is education. For years we’ve worked with Street Law, supporting their national mission to promote understanding of law and government in the classroom. Many of the students we work with come from diverse backgrounds, and there is no more important time than now to support their education about how they have equity in the American system.”
Last year, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Krautkramer partnered with law firm DLA Piper on a project for the SeniorLAW Center in Philadelphia, where they put together materials to help educate seniors on financial and medical products fraud associated with COVID.
“I’ve also worked with Wills for Heroes, which provides end-of-life documents and wills for Wisconsin’s first responders. It’s been an honor to support civil servants because we’re giving back to those folks who do a lot for us,” Krautkramer shares.
In addition to the pro bono work, now in his new role, Krautkramer and his team will be focusing on three key areas: accelerating growth, particularly in the company’s molecular imaging and radiopharmaceutical portfolio; localizing legal, compliance, and policy work to protect and advance business opportunities within each country; and investing in his team by both focusing their professional and personal development while improving their operating system to make sure the focus is on most high-value, rewarding work.
“I’m really trying to drive greater and more sophisticated education within our team,” he says. “I’m asking them to go deeper on their knowledge of regulatory issues and the specific areas in which we play. I think that make us stronger as individual lawyers but makes our business better too.”