Press Release

Aaron Philippsen, Heidi Giesbrecht and Michael Harding earn StarFish Medical’s highest honors

December 10, 2015

Aaron Philippsen receives Chris Denny Memorial award from Scott Phillips

VICTORIA, British Columbia, December 7, 2015 – Aaron Philippsen, Heidi Giesbrecht and Michael Harding have earned StarFish Medical’s highest honors for outstanding contributions to company success.
Philippsen, a Mechanical Engineer, received the Chris Denny Memorial Award for Innovation. Heidi Giesbrecht and Michael Harding shared the StarFish Keep Calm and Carry On Award.  Both award categories garnered multiple nominations citing a variety of achievements, challenges, and outstanding performance all taking place during record growth for the company.

The Chris Denny Memorial Award for Innovation is awarded each year to someone from the StarFish group of companies who has immersed themselves deeply in a technical problem in order to find a brilliant solution to a client design challenge—as stated, or more deeply.  Chris Denny was a long-time StarFish Mechanical Designer known for his brilliant solutions to the most challenging projects in ophthalmologic ultrasound, intraosseous infusion, electro-surgery and intravascular surgery.  Nominees are solicited from StarFish Group employees and the recipient is chosen by a John Walmsley, Vice President of Product Development.

Scott Phillips, prefaced his descriptions of the nominations saying: “This is by far the most impressive list I’ve ever seen.  I know it was a very difficult decision for John.”

Nine employees were nominated by their peers for projects including:

  • Developing an electromagnetic blood flow meter from 1st principles
  • Translating the high level concepts and requests for a variety of complex projects into practical medical devices
  • Coming up with a clever solution to a filling product that was turned around quickly and shepherded through to production
  • Creating a novel approach to an intraosseous auto-injection device
  • Enabling early stage innovations that engaged clients and secured numerous patents
  • Innovating for clients, business processes, and Digital Health
  • Streamlining and piping an image data architecture that enabled a client to move forward with a practical implementation

Aaron’s nomination describe his contributions:

“For spearheading a very novel molecular detection assay and protocol. The use of a previously unknown phenomenon may enable a future generation of simple, low cost, and fast detectors for a specific class of molecules – biological or not.”

John Walmsley explains his selection: “We believe that it is core to our success that we foster innovation throughout the company. This year’s Chris Denny Award nominations are, again, evidence that we are all achieving this. It was difficult to pick one winner from the nominations but we did: Aaron Phillipson. The innovation that he created is a truly novel solution that was not at all considered in the original setting of the challenge.”

Aaron accepted the award thanking his co-workers: “I’m really honored to be part of this wonderful group of people. I wouldn’t have gotten to this point without having everyone to bounce the ideas around with. I’m looking forward to continuing so we can all create such amazing things and hopefully help some people at the end of the day.”

(R-L) Michael Harding and Heidi Giesbrecht share Keep Calm and Carry On award from Scott Phillips

The Keep Calm and Carry On Award honors an employee who rises to challenging times with compassion and grace making employees, customers, and leadership feel more confident, positive, and well looked after. It is selected and presented by StarFish Group President, Scott Phillips. “The Keep Calm and Carry On award recognizes performance under duress—and this year we’ve had a record number of nominees (13),” noted Phillips, reflecting both on the high level of company activity and outstanding performance of employees.  His comment garnered a warm laugh and big round of applause from the audience of employees and their friends and family members.

Michael Harding, Customer Support Trainer, and Heidi Giesbrecht, Project Manager and PMO, were joint recipients of the award.

Harding’s nomination reads: “Michael kept calm in the line of duty when his hotel was shot up by police machine gun fire while in South Africa training a customer. Going to great lengths to ensure our customers get trained to maximize the results they receive from our equipment is our new level of great customer support.  If that requires an all-day whirlwind flight to spend 3 hours in Toronto to arrange a visa and then a 24 hour flight to Africa we do it. Give that man the Keep Calm award for showing us all how to exceed customer expectations.”

Michael accepted the award with typical humility: “This year has been busy for the whole company, but everybody pulled together and did a great job.  I think everyone deserves the Keep Calm and Carry On award.”

Giesbrecht’s nominations include these highlights: “Heidi rises to challenging times with compassion and grace. She makes employees, clients and StarFish leadership all feel more confident, positive, and well looked after. She empowers her peers to improve through positive guidance. She is attentive to the immediate and long term client needs and delivers on her commitments.”

Heidi’s acceptance demonstrated the qualities identified in her nominations: “I’d just like to add that I’m very touched and thank you very much. This has been a challenging year for everybody in the company who have gone above and beyond and I feel really privileged to be acknowledged. I’d like to extend that acknowledgement to you all as well.”


Nominees celebrate with Scott Phillips. (L-R) Paul Charlebois, Mark Drlik, Kenneth MacCallum, Bob Magyar, Mike Sanders, Julian Grove, Vesna Janic, Shawn Greig, Aaron Phillipson, Sheila McQueen

Nominees celebrate with Scott Phillips. (L-R) Paul Charlebois, Mark Drlik, Kenneth MacCallum, Bob Magyar, Mike Sanders, Julian Grove, Front row: Vesna Janic, Shawn Greig, Aaron Phillipson, Sheila McQueen


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