When the results of an employee survey came through in May 2020, Nucleus Global CEO Dan Bridges, who is based in London, clicked open the file … and breathed a huge sigh of relief: 98% of employees gave the leadership team high marks for its handling of COVID-19.

Bridges describes it as the most satisfying moment of 2020 for him. While employers everywhere sweat such scores, they represent something more for Nucleus, he believes. “Our main point of differentiation is that we hire the best people and then support them by getting out of their way,” he says. 

Nucleus, acquired by global communications giant Huntsworth in November, saw its North American revenue climb just under 18% in 2020, to $61.5 million from $52.3 million in 2019. Head count nudged up to 298 from 282 at the end of 2019. Additions included group HR director Liam Mulvihill, who previously held a similar role at Syneos Health.

Nucleus Global

Ironically, Nucleus led off 2020 with The Future Is Here, an internal campaign. “We didn’t realize how fast that was going to take on a whole new level of meaning,” quips president of U.S. operations Nancy Sladicka.

But the twin challenges of a pandemic and an ownership transition didn’t blunt the firm’s momentum, which Bridges credits to the company’s employee-centric approach. “It means that we’ve been able to give our people the pay raises and bonuses they deserve, which many of our competitors struggled to do,” he explains. “We were able to take many of the negative things happening in the world and address them in ways that forced us to move more quickly and ultimately be more successful.”

While much of Nucleus’ revenue is generated from its work with pharma mainstays, Sladicka points with pride to software the agency created for Travere Therapeutics, the rare-drug organization previously known as Retrophin. She similarly references a clinical-trial awareness campaign Nucleus devised and executed for Calithera Biosciences around a targeted treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

“It shows how well we work with smaller companies,” Sladicka notes.

On a different front, Nucleus’ relationship with Medicines for Malaria Venture, a nonprofit that aims to improve access to antimalarials, continues to be a passion point. The agency has worked alongside the organization for half a decade, on projects ranging from communications to grant writing. “We’ve helped them get millions from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, too,” Bridges reports.

That proved a lifeline for the organization during 2020 and the first months of 2021, when every disease state found itself competing against COVID-19 for funding and attention. “It is one of the most rewarding accounts we have,” Bridges continues. “The money it raises goes directly to saving lives. That’s why we are all here.”

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The idea I wish I had…

The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard. This online resource launched early in the course of the pandemic to track cases across the globe and was an excellent application of big data visualization in real-time. It brought together the most important aspects of healthcare communications — namely, by applying big data analytics to provide accessible and understandable healthcare information to the entire population. — Dan Bridges