Partnering to boost diversity CITIZENSHIP

Medtronic Supplier of the Year, Populus Group, contributes a strong pipeline of diverse talent.


Bobby Herrera, founder of Populus Group, holds a pink sign that says "All Hail the Underdogs" while raising his fist in the air

Bobby Herrera was just a kid when a simple act of kindness changed his life.

Unable to afford dinner after a school basketball game, a friend’s father offered to pay for him and his brother on one condition: that Bobby would do the same thing for someone else in the future. He didn’t have many plans at this point other than joining the Army when he turned 18. But that simple act of kindness planted a seed.

Looking back on that day, Bobby remembers, “All I knew was that I wanted to create something to pay that generosity forward.”


The time to make good on his promise came in 2002, when Bobby began to build Populus Group, a non-permanent workforce and talent management company — and one of the many small and diverse companies Medtronic partners with in the United States. He was clear about his vision from the start.

“I wanted to create a community, not a company,” Bobby explains. “I wanted it to be a place where people take care of each other, where people feel safe, and where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

Sixteen years later, that vision is still going strong. There have been hurdles along the way, but for Bobby, that’s part of the journey. He quickly learned that “no” isn’t a bad word, and to focus on the end goal rather than looking at what others are doing. It’s this focus that acts as the foundation for Populus Group’s culture.

“We wave 20 different national flags in our company,” says Bobby, who speaks proudly of his Mexican heritage. “But we all have one thing in common: a willingness to transform and climb mountains together. We focus on being a great company, first and foremost. We just happen to be a diverse, minority-owned company.”


When Medtronic and Populus Group first came together in 2013, there was a natural fit right away: a shared willingness to learn from each other and a strong belief that diversity of thought and experience are the most important drivers of innovation.

"Working with Populus Group is always a pleasure," explains Lisa Zak, Senior Strategic Sourcing Director, Medtronic. "They really demonstrate what diversity means for Medtronic — not just numbers on a page, but people with a variety of viewpoints and experience who constantly inspire us."

Minnesota — where Populus Group’s work with Medtronic started — has grown to be one of its biggest markets. In December 2017, Medtronic awarded Populus Group its Supplier of the Year award, recognizing a consistent commitment to quality, value, and customer service.

Like in any relationship, there are challenges, but mutual trust and a shared commitment to openness and progress ensures the partnership continues to thrive.

“I’d say we’re about halfway up the mountain together. There’s still much more growth and learning to come. And we’re having so much fun along the way, I’m excited to see where we go next,” says Bobby.

Populus Group team member group shot
Populus Group employees celebrate winning the Medtronic Supplier of the Year Award in 2017