While the obligation can definitely feel overwhelming at times – particularly during uncertain periods such as COVID-19 – it inspires me to find creative ways to drive the company toward success

Julie Charlestein is the CEO and president of Premier Dental Products Company, a global dental development and manufacturing business innovating new solutions to meet the evolving needs of dentistry. A driver of inspired solutions, and serving as the company’s fourth-generation leader, Julie brings her entrepreneurial spirit to drive Premier, creating cutting-edge technologies and products for today’s dentists and their patients; improving treatment experiences and outcomes. Driving the industry forward, Julie was voted one of The Top 25 Most Influential Women in Dentistry by Dental Products Report and serves on the boards and advisory councils of multiple dental schools, including The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, The Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, and, previously, Harvard University.

What is your business and what do you do?

 Premier Dental Products Company is a global dental manufacturing business that creates, develops and manufactures innovative consumables for oral health professionals worldwide. As Premier’s fourth-generation CEO and president, I drive the development of inspired solutions for daily dentistry at Premier. Premier is a privately-owned family-run business that has successfully served the dental industry for over a century, and continues this excellence today, selling novel solutions to dentists and hygienists around the world, spanning more than 75 countries.

What sparked your vision to launch your business? 

Stepping into the role that my predecessors laid out for me, my vision as the company’s next-generation leader was to advance Premier by evolving into a data-driven and consumer-led business. I believe that data drives innovation and it is the job of leaders to identify solutions that will advance the market and our position within it. The integration of market analytics and data driven processes has transformed Premier’s already robust technologies, services, and market relevance. I am proud that the company stands at the nexus of medical device innovation, bringing award-winning products to the worldwide market.  

What has been your favorite failure and what did you learn?  

The launch of Premier’s Enamelon®, (a preventive treatment gel that builds protection against tooth sensitivity as well as building stronger enamel,) taught me quite a bit about thoughtful creation and implementation. The product development took too long, the technology, while fantastic, was confusing the marketplace, and we led with the wrong messages. In response, I created a completely new process and began implementing a data-driven and consumer-led approach to device innovation, project management, and marketing at Premier. With a tight loop of feedback collected from our customers, paired with market analytics, Premier now does a much better job of staying ahead of the dental market to innovate solutions that fill gaps within the dental treatment experience.   

What was your most memorable day of your career and why?

 The day I became CEO. Leading up to my first day as CEO, I didn’t expect anything to be different as I had been running the company for several years before my appointment. Everything, however, was VERY different! When the complete responsibility of driving Premier’s vision, direction, and legacy became mine alone – along with the added burden of taking care of its employees as well as my own family - the challenges and opportunities of leading this century-old business changed my life. While the obligation can definitely feel overwhelming at times – particularly during uncertain periods such as COVID-19 – it inspires me to find creative ways to drive the company toward success. As Winston Churchill said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” 

How do you continue to learn so you stay ahead in your industry?

 I listen. As an outgoing and communicative person, I seek to draw on the experiences of others. In my years leading Premier, I have had the benefit of learning from my predecessors and other business leaders outside of the dental field, gaining from the wisdom of others and incorporating their ideas into my leadership philosophy and approach. While seemingly simple in practice, listening is a skill that I model for my colleagues. I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other. 

What is some bad advice you hear in your industry or with entrepreneurship that people should avoid?

 The words of naysayers can be quite compelling – but in turn can prove harmful. I’ve come across those who have told me, “Julie, we cannot do what they can.” My response to that is, “Maybe not, but they cannot do what we can.” While understanding the market and monitoring competitor offerings is vital in business, I cannot let the triumphs of others hinder or minimize the success of my business. While Premier competes directly with Fortune 500 , publicly-traded companies, I’ve learned that our size is an asset – we can take a longer-term view, spend and utilize our money in a way that supports our needs and values, and take calculated risks. Honoring the elements that make Premier unique, I’ve been able to amplify their significance to maintain purpose and solidity in the ever-changing dental market.  

Where can readers find you on social media? 

Twitter: @JCharlestein 
LinkedIn: Julie Charlestein