With more than 35 years of experience in industry, Candy B. Ross, RDH, BS, is well versed in clinical research, training and continuing-education development, professional relations, marketing, and product-launch strategies. Currently, she is director of industry and professional relations for the KaVo Kerr Group. Based in Marietta, Georgia, Ross is responsible for maintaining external relationships with professional organizations, key opinion leaders, trade associations, and dental professionals; procuring speakers for continuing-education programs; organizing philanthropic activities; and developing and managing advisory boards. Prior to joining KaVo Kerr Group, Ross served as director of clinical affairs for DEXIS, now part of KaVo Kerr Group, and she spent more than 20 years as director of professional relations and clinical research for Teledyne Water Pik.
Passionate about giving back, Ross has received two prestigious awards in the past 2 years for her charitable work. In 2014, she was honored with the Haskell M. Pitluck Award by the American Board of Forensic Odontology for her commitment to forensic dentistry and the financial and technological support provided by DEXIS. In 2013, Ross received the first Steven W. Kess Give Kids A Smile Corporate Volunteer Award from the American Dental Association (ADA). One of Give Kids A Smile’s most ardent supporters since the program’s inception, Ross was lauded for her work in growing the program, facilitating the involvement of DEXIS and KaVo Kerr Group, and participating in local events. Despite keeping a busy schedule, Ross is active on many boards, including the ADA Foundation Board of Directors, ADA Give Kids A Smile Advisory Committee, Team Smile Advisory Board, and Dimensions of Dental Hygiene’s Corporate Council.
What about your position do you find most motivating?
I am excited to start each day because I work with many great leaders in dentistry. The KaVo Kerr Group consists of both consumable and technology products. I specifically work with 10 brands that form the technology side of our business—KaVo, DEXIS, i-CAT, Gendex, Instrumentarium, SOREDEX, Pelton & Crane, NOMAD, Marus, and DCI. Most dental professionals want to learn about new technologies from the experience of their peers. Therefore, part of my job is to match educational opportunities with experienced dentists and dental hygienists who use our products. It is a constant treasure hunt, and I love it!
I also serve as the liaison between our company and dental organizations. I have the great honor to sit on multiple advisory boards. This allows me to rub elbows with significant “movers and shakers” in our profession. Through my board activities, I am able to understand the strategic goals and missions of different organizations and what continually needs to happen to increase the quality of oral health care in the United States, and the world.
What advice would you give dental hygienists who are interested in working on the corporate side of dentistry?
In today’s corporate environment, dental hygienists must possess skills that the corporate world finds beneficial and potentially unique. Clinical knowledge is important, but the ability, for instance, to create complex Excel work sheets, institute action plans to manage projects, or determine the right metrics to evaluate potential projects is also valuable. Fortunately, these skills can be learned. For dental hygienists who want to pursue a career in a corporate environment, earning a Master’s of Business Administration degree is an impressive demonstration of a commitment to excellence. Another less intensive step is to volunteer at charity clinics. This is a way to meet people who may prove to be valuable contacts. Many corporations, like KaVo Kerr Group, support the ability of their employees to help those in need.
You were recently honored with awards from the American Board of Forensic Odontology and the ADA. How did it feel to be recognized by your peers?
There is no question that receiving these awards, in addition to being named one of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene’s “Six Dental Hygienists You Want to Know,” are some of the most treasured moments in my career. To receive accolades from one’s peers is an unexpected gift. I am beyond grateful for the recognition, and I hope it encourages other dental hygienists to be aware of their many wonderful skill sets. Believe you can do whatever you set out to accomplish and consistently seek out new opportunities for growth.
How did you become interested in forensic odontology?
KaVo Kerr Group makes the DEXIS digital X-ray, which is the digital sensor used in disaster mortuary operational response team mobile units during mass-casualty events. Through my work with the DEXIS brand, I have met many diplomates of the American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO). These dental experts get called in after natural or other disasters to identify human remains—often, in extremely compromised conditions.
I will never forget the Saturday night during Hurricane Katrina when my forensic friends called in desperate need of more DEXIS sensors at the New Orleans recovery site to help expedite the identification of remains. I tried to find a solution for getting literally hundreds of additional sensors to them, ultimately determining that a “pony express” system consisting of multiple ABFO members traveling to New Orleans by car was the best solution. It worked. We managed to get the sensors to the site—and the dental forensic team was truly grateful.
From this experience I learned there are people who do good without any need for recognition. They are the unsung heroes. It was then that I truly came to understand and respect what these professionals do for our country in times of disaster. This example inspired my passion to assist in any way, shape, or form, and I am proud to work for a company that stands behind me and donates products whenever they are needed.