Maria Platsis is proof that women can rise and succeed in any career, as long as they have a passion for their job and the drive to work hard. Maria is senior director of corporate development for Integra LifeSciences, a company in Plainsboro that makes and markets medical devices. Before coming to Integra in 2003, Maria spent many years as a corporate lawyer at a private law firm and as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. She has a law degree, a masters in business administration and a love of dealmaking. "We look at deals all the time," explains Maria. "Deals fall apart and start again and fall apart. We always have a number that we're working on, and you never know if they're going to materialize." Since Maria was brought on to lead the Integra deal team, the company has purchased companies in deals worth $53 million, $80 million and $100 million.
In a deal that closed on March 3, 2006 Integra LifeSciences acquired the assets of Radionics Division of Tyco Healthcare Group for $80 million in cash—the company's largest acquisition to date. Radionics, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, is a leader in the design, manufacture and sale of advanced minimally invasive medical instruments in the fields of neurosurgery and radiation therapy.
"Historically I've been on the service side of dealmaking," explains Maria. "In the service area you find more men than women. In the corporate setting, where I am now, you see more women. My equivalent at Radionics [the $80 million deal] was a woman. Now that I'm in the corporate setting, the investment bankers are bringing me ideas and the lawyers are doing my work, so it's actually quite lovely. It helps to have had that background as a corporate lawyer doing mergers and acquisitions. A lot of what you do on a deal is getting into the terms and agreements, which are important to understand and negotiate."
While Platsis is still tackling various issues related to the Radionics deal, her mind is already wrapped around the next Integra deal, a $101 million acquisition of Miltex, based in York, Pennsylvania. Even so, she still came away from the Radionics deal—as she does with all deals—with some important lessons learned. No. 1 is a renewed sense of the importance of relationships in deal making. "The relationships in the industry are a valuable asset to have if you're interested in doing acquisitions," says Platsis. "We had worked with Tyco on acquiring Radionics product lines in 2002, and low and behold in 2006 we were able to work with them again. Knowing the market and keeping in contact is a good way to generate a deal pipeline. Smaller companies should put themselves on the radar screens of the people they would hope to call them if they wanted to sell the business."
That relationship advice translates well to putting yourself in demand in the job market. Young career starters should put themselves on the radar screens of people they would hope to call them if they wanted a job.