By Jennifer Erb
2016-08-252016-09-01https://wvuieleaders.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/[email protected]WVU IE200px200px
Colleen Burns came to WVU after spending one year at the University of Buffalo. She knew that she wanted to study Industrial Engineering, but wasn’t sure what her desired career path would be. She had a great internship at Corning in a manufacturing environment. But she didn’t see herself being in a manufacturing facility as a career. Her advisor recommended that she look into engineering sales as a career because of her outgoing personality and competitive drive.
She took his advice and started her career with General Electric in their technical marketing program. Colleen was one of nine people selected by GE to be trained in their emerging healthcare technologies business. Colleen emphasizes that you have to know the technology if you are going into sales engineering.
After completing the technical marketing program, Colleen took a sales position in the Maryland office, taking over from a former Technical Marketing graduate who was being promoted. When she showed up for her first day at work, her boss gave her the list of her hospitals. It was not the territory for the job she expected. He had given all the big accounts to the male sales reps in the office and asked each of them to give up three hospitals they no longer wanted. Her first boss was not supportive of taking on the first sales woman in the area. What seemed like a curse became a blessing. The area was expanding so many of Colleen’s country hospitals tripled in size leading to her becoming the youngest person ever inducted into the Sigma Society for the top sales people in the country. She did very well financially.
Early in her career, Colleen was married and had a daughter. Her husband wanted her to be a stay-at-home mom, so Colleen left GE and her family moved to Long Island, NY. It was here that Colleen developed the entrepreneurial “bug”. She formed a small business, Cate’s Country Crafters, to satisfy her sales interests and also provide time for her daughter. As time went on the marriage didn’t last, so Colleen needed to return to a more traditional career path.
Colleen called her old boss from GE, not the first one, a subsequent boss who had been very supportive. He had left GE to become the Sales Manager and hire a sales team for Resonex, a Silicon Valley company selling Open MRIs. He offered Colleen one of the two remaining territories, Denver or Los Angeles. LA was less overnight travelling. So, Colleen and her two-year-old daughter moved across country to LA to start a new job.
Part of Colleen’s work with Resonex was helping doctors develop business plans to make the Open MRI technology economically profitable. This was when she connected her sales career to her entrepreneurial ambitions. Colleen had the idea of creating a radiology office in Buffalo, her home town, where no Open MRI facility existed. She would also be moving back home. Making the move from a lucrative career to a start-up business was a tough decision. But it was made easier for Colleen since she had already started her business plan when Resonex asked all of its sales staff to go to 100% commission. She refused and was terminated.
Colleen opened Buffalo MRI in 1993 and has been its CEO and principal since then. It took two years to get the business off the ground. She used the money she had made in sales and received investment capital from others. Buffalo MRI has continued to grow and now has sixty employees and a full array of radiology services. Buffalo MRI serves both the Buffalo area and Ontario, Canada.
Colleen and her husband, who she met in Silicon Valley, have been married for 21 years and live in Buffalo where they are raising their three children.
Colleen Burns is the CEO and Principal owner of Buffalo MRI a full service radiology clinic serving the Buffalo, NY community as well as citizens from Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1993, Buffalo MRI operates three MRI units and a full complement of other imaging services.
Prior to founding Buffalo MRI, Colleen was a sales engineer with Resenex Corporation, a medical supplier located in Chatsworth, CA.
Colleen began her career as a technical marketing representative with General Electric in its health care business unit.
Colleen is a 1982 graduate in Industrial Engineering. She is married and has three children.