Meet Matt Turner
My parents' life story and what they had to endure pushes me every day," said Matt. "Because of them, I've developed a deep personal drive for education and ensuring I make a positive impact on society.
Faced with any given fork in the road, Matt Turner, president at Phenomenex, has always grounded his life decisions, big or small, with two core questions: How can he fulfill his purpose? How can he be of service?

Matt grew up in a blue-collar community in Long Island, New York. His parents migrated from the South to New York before raising a family. Neither of his parents had the chance to finish high school; they grew up in a time and in a region where they had to work in the fields to support their families. Their experience, however, placed a crucial emphasis on ensuring their children received a good education.

In Matt's own words, he recalls: "My first love in school was always math and science, but what spiked my interest the most in STEM was chemistry." Matt found such fun and enjoyment in the challenge of chemistry that he started competing in science programs outside of school and eventually made it to the national competition level.

It was at a national NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition that Matt first heard about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). "I never heard of MIT before ACT-SO participant who went on to do great things at schools like MIT. I remember coming home from a competition, and there was a letter from MIT. It confirmed that this was the place to further my education in science and engineering." But, his family didn't have money to pay for his college. It would take drive and determination for Matt to chart his path forward.
Matt successfully earned a full academic scholarship funded by the U.S. Air Force (USAF). And while he was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy, also known as West Point, 17-year-old Matt had an intuitive feeling pulling him in another direction. He figured he'd dedicate his entire life to the military if he went to West Point. However, using the USAF academic scholarship would allow Matt to attend the college of his choosing—such as MIT—and pursue STEM while gaining the foundational military experience to shape him as a leader.

"Growing up, I was deeply inspired by General Colin Powell as a person and a leader," said Matt. "As I learned more about his story and developed a lot of respect for his leadership, I thought, 'What formatively shaped this guy? The military clearly helped him become who he is today, so maybe it's something that can help me become an impactful leader in humanity, as well.’”

Though Matt decided not to attend West Point, he did enlist with the US Air Force. After finishing his studies at MIT, Matt completed his military service as a Captain and an intelligence officer with the USAF based in Africa. Serving outside of his home country gave Matt an invaluable global perspective that is a fundamental part of his approach to leadership today. After five years of service, he faced another turning point.
If I had to choose one word that drives most of my decisions, it’s ‘purpose,’” said Matt. “I thoroughly enjoyed many aspects of my time in the military, but when I thought about my long-term trajectory and how I could have the most impact on society, I recognized a gap in my knowledge.
The military is one form of power for the U.S., but the biggest form of power and influence has been economic power. Economic power is more important than anything else in the world. At the time, I lacked an understanding of business and economic power, so I decided to pursue my MBA.”

MIT's constant problem-solving culture and mantra of mastering the “art of the possible to solve the impossible” stuck with Matt. His global experience in the military uncovered an endless array of fascinating problems to solve. By returning to school to earn an MBA at Harvard, Matt took steps toward fulfilling his purpose, realizing he could have the most positive impact on society as a leader by discovering solutions to create a better humanity and drive economic growth.

After completing his MBA, Matt went into consulting with McKinsey & Company (McKinsey), which he describes as an “accelerant” in his growth as a business leader. McKinsey prides itself on developing strong analytical skills among its leaders, who can go into various companies, understand their operations, diagnose key challenges, and help those companies map out solutions. With repetition, Matt quickly gained experience navigating countless tough business challenges in a short amount of time. Consulting wouldn’t be his end goal, but rather a stepping stone to get into general management and eventually run businesses.

 “When I got the opportunity to join GE, I jumped at it because the company had a reputation as an engine developing CEOs, presidents, and general managers,” said Matt. “I knew that GE was the right next move if I wanted to have an even bigger impact as a leader.”

During his 12 years with GE, Matt gravitated towards a purpose-driven area of the business: energy. “In the U.S., we often take energy for granted,” said Matt. “During my time overseas, I visited many places that had no energy, and I realized how crucial it is to our quality of life. With GE, I had a fulfilling opportunity to provide products and services that help companies generate power to make human lives better.”

After more than a decade, Matt turned down an opportunity within GE to lead a significant part of the business. He was looking for something new—a chance to move into a smaller business with less bureaucracy and more autonomy to lead independently. Matt wanted to take smaller, mission-driven companies through stages of growth and, in turn, create positive outcomes for society. That brought him to Danaher Corporation (Danaher), which is smaller than GE and focused on allowing each operating company to have its autonomy to develop, drive, and execute business strategies.
Life sciences are at the heart of solving some of the world’s toughest problems, including the current pandemic. It inspires me to work within Danaher and lead a business like Phenomenex, which is at the core of solving some of the world’s most complex problems.
“I was drawn to Danaher’s strategy to evolve from being a primarily industrial-based business to a life sciences and diagnostics business,” said Matt. “As I started to think about having an impact—the idea of fulfilling my purpose and serving others through the military and now through business—this move made sense.

Phenomenex is a global manufacturer that develops novel analytical chemistry solutions for separation and purification challenges. The company's innovations propel many biopharma technologies inside and outside the lab. Since joining Phenomenex, Matt has found fulfillment and inspiration watching his team tackle challenges and create conditions that empower customers worldwide—many of who are leading the way in critical work, such as cutting-edge environmental testing and vaccine development and research.

In a recent meeting with a customer, Matt recalls the customer praising Phenomenex, not only for its chemistry but also for its people. The customer shared, “I love working with your team, and I want to figure out a way to do more business with you. We recently acquired a business, and we need to validate those new products into our portfolio. The best way for you to help us develop new medicines with this new portfolio is to figure out how to get your chemistry into our methods as we bring on these new products.”

This captured a powerful and inspiring moment for Matt: “I probed the customer to understand better their challenges and how Phenomenex could help address them, and then I took the feedback to my team,” said Matt. “This is a customer that fits into our strategic growth goals, and we have an opportunity to help them bring life-saving medicines to market. I couldn’t think of a better, more impactful opportunity.”

Matt’s vision for Phenomenex starts with building an exceptional team to drive significant growth and emergence in new markets. “My goal is to build a best-in-class team that couples Phenomenex’s rich history—a fun-loving, science- and customer-focused business—with a future of best-in-class commercial and operational capabilities that doubles in size because of our process-driven growth,” said Matt. “I want to accelerate our growth into new spaces by using our strong commercial engine and a very agile and flexible operational capability that functions as an accelerant.” Matt also sees an opportunity to expand beyond liquid chromatography, Phenomenex’s core business, to more nimbly serve customers' needs.
"At GE, my team won ‘business of the year’ twice, and that is when we had the most diverse leadership team across all of GE—we had a large number of women on the team, people from different countries, and all races and ethnicities. Because our CEO tapped into the strengths of each of us as individuals and made us feel included on our teams, he brought out the best in all of us, and we achieved exceptional business performance. That became a model for my leadership in businesses.
Matt knows the only way to achieve his high-growth strategy is to work with the best people. He’s focused on making Phenomenex a magnetic destination for top talent as well as developing and retaining current talent. A top priority is creating structural efficiencies and building strong managers to ensure all team members reach their fullest potential at Phenomenex. 

A critical part of reaching the level of success he wants the company to achieve is building diverse teams: “I want Phenomenex to be a model for one of Danaher’s values, ‘the best team wins, and the best team is diverse,’” said Matt. “Throughout my career, the most successful teams I’ve been on have been the teams with the most diversity.

At Phenomenex, Matt’s strategy starts with diversifying his leadership team to ensure that candidates from all backgrounds see representation and a place to grow within Phenomenex. Then, once the best talent comes through the door, Matt says: “We have to make them feel valued, which means we hear, interpret, process, and take action on their feedback and ideas. Every person in the organization must understand the value of their contributions and how they fit into our strategy and trajectory for the future.”

Beyond growing the team, Matt feels extremely lucky to work among such fascinating people at Phenomenex. The company’s innate service-oriented culture has attracted a group of highly collaborative and empowering people. As an example, Matt shared about a group within Phenomenex that, for the last 20 years, has done daily workouts together every day at noon. During the pandemic, they took their workouts virtual and everyone stayed committed. Matt hasn’t made it to a midday workout yet, but he’s enjoyed a couple of fun morning workout classes with colleagues.
“I’ve never been part of such a collaborative, lively, and inspiring work environment,” said Matt. “We all jump at the opportunity to do something together, and I’ve only seen a snapshot of what’s been going on every day here for decades. That little subset represents a microcosm of the broader culture — which is a fun, collaborative environment where people genuinely like each other and focus on driving success as a collective organization.”

Outside of his role at Phenomenex, Matt stays steadfast in his commitment to living a life grounded by purpose and service. His passions and interests are captured with five Fs: faith, family, friends, fitness, and finance. Matt is a devoted husband and father, active in his community, connected to his local church, and aims to exercise at least three times a week.

Whether through business or personal ventures, he always strives to impact the world around him positively.