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Illustration of Daniel Friedmann, chief executive officer of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail/Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Illustration of Daniel Friedmann, chief executive officer of MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail/Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

THE LUNCH

MDA's Daniel Friedmann likes the Earth under his feet Add to ...

The earthbound CEO of a space company keeps devising ways to bring technology from the sky to the ground. Using robotics in medicine is an enticing avenue, though sales have yet to take off.

On the company’s third-quarter conference call Oct. 28, Mr. Friedmann became enthusiastic about robotic surgery. While he envisages using precision robots to flawlessly close incisions on young patients, Mr. Friedmann’s colourful way with words meant he didn’t quite put it that way:

“We have another very good product that we’re putting together for stitching together small kids, but the thing stitches anybody together,” said Mr. Friedmann, who explained that much of the surgeon’s time is devoted to stitching people up at the end of an operation, a relatively straightforward procedure.

“I read a joke last night actually, the guy was reviewing his doctor’s bill and asked the doctor, ‘How come it’s so expensive?’ He said, ‘Well, you know, I hand-stitched you.’ So we’re trying to change that, make it by machine.”

CURRICULUM VITAE

Beginnings

Born Sept. 19, 1956, in Chile.

Moved to Vancouver with his family as a teenager.

Father was an engineer turned businessman, mother was a homemaker.

Masters in engineering physics, 1979, University of British Columbia.

Home life

Lives in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood.

Divorced and remarried.

One daughter, 26.

Career

Started at MDA in 1979 right out of university. After two failed interviews, pleaded by letter with founding CEO John MacDonald to give him a chance. Impressed with Mr. Friedmann's academic work, Mr. MacDonald told the head of engineering to hire the 22-year-old.

Became manager of systems marketing in 1985.

Promoted to executive vice-president/chief operating officer in 1990.

Appointed president in 1993.

Became CEO in 1995.

Passions

“Skiing, skiing and skiing, climbing, and kayaking, in that order.”

Rides 45 minutes each way to work. “I'm not a lover of bikes. I just bike so I can climb and ski. It's my training.”

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