Martha Bidez is passionate about giving a voice to those who don't have one, to individuals who have been marginalized because of gender, race, or socio-economic status. Her passion has been the driving force behind her career path, which has led her from a faculty position in the biomedical engineering department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; to founding a biomedical company; and, now, to heading a consulting firm and advocating for automotive safety.
Through conducting research at the university, Martha and her team developed a revolutionary dental implant product. The university encouraged her to commercialize the product and, in 1995, she started BioHorizons Implant Systems, Inc. In 2000, she stepped down as CEO of BioHorizons, but remains the board chair.
"Now, I'm able to focus more on my passion through my consulting and activist work," she says. Much of her energy has been directed at working to change discriminatory practices in the automotive industry. "From my technical expertise and my corporate background, I know what it requires to put out a safe product," Martha explains. "And as an engineer, I believe we have a responsibility for safety. Now, I'm trying to convince the 'big boys' , Ford, General Motors, and others, to stop making management decisions that seriously hurt folks, and to convince the government to require stricter standards." She admits, "I have the dubious distinction of being the only person Ford Motor Company has attacked personally on its website, so I know I'm getting through.
"Before her Kellogg Fellowship, Martha says, she was "content in the calm, comfortable university environment. The fellowship instilled a sense of fearlessness in me. It allowed me to give up my tenure and launch a new company, which was like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. It has helped me to take on, so to speak, the automotive industry." Today she asserts, "the network of Fellows provides enormous, ongoing inspiration for me.
"Her advice for aspiring leaders: "Do what has heart and meaning in your own life. Without it, there's no way to sustain the difficulties and challenges you'll be facing."
Martha Bidez was interviewed in July 2006.