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A single group email in 2021 hit the CMI Media Group and Compas leadership team like a joyful sledgehammer. It was a thank-you note sent by a client-side individual to an account manager at the agency, who forwarded it to her peers. The note commended the agency for the way it connects with patients and providers alike. 

What the client couldn’t have known is that the language echoed, almost verbatim, the agency’s internal vision statement. Susan Dorfman, CEO and president of CMI Media Group, says she was brought to tears when she
opened it.

And when James Woodland, CEO of Compas, read it, he had a similarly strong reaction. “It felt like an enormous weight had slipped off my shoulders,” he recalls. “We all get so many emails every day with questions and problems and issues. So this one, where a client said they appreciated what we offer and that we were doing it precisely the way we meant to, just flooded me with a sense of relief.”

A big part of the CMI Media Group and Compas vision is the company’s commitment to investing in new ideas and fostering an environment that looks beyond obvious labels. “We don’t look at titles,” Dorfman stresses. “Every person in our agency matters, as does every person in our clients’ business. Every brand matters, no matter how much it’s spending.”

That means agency leaders endeavor to sit in on meetings others might call low-level and check in with clients on a regular basis. “They are often surprised that we stay involved and they’ll say things like, ‘I didn’t expect you here.’ But it’s important,” Dorfman says.

That high-touch approach has fueled continued growth. CMI Media Group and Compas revenue hit $220.2 million in 2021, a 27% jump from $173.4 million in 2020. Not surprisingly, the gains sets off a hiring spree: The company ended the year with 813 people on hand, up from 715 at its outset. Key personnel additions included chief technology officer Oleg Korenfeld (from Troika/Mission Group) and CFO Marjolein Bruurs (from WPP).

The growth has continued into 2022, with staff size blowing past 900 in April. But between managing remote work and the hiring and retention challenges faced by nearly every company in the industry, that growth hasn’t come easily. That’s why CMI Media Group and Compas devoted considerable energy during the last year to rethinking the employee experience. Woodland says one response has been to embrace what he calls “radical flexibility,” with recent hires geographically based in Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada and Texas.

This has also meant doubling down on the company’s commitment to be a high-touch employer. “We do one-on-ones with everyone, and two-on-ones as often as we can,” Dorfman says. “And that’s not just with employees — we are very emphatic about doing it with clients.” 

Up next: After two years of internal testing, CMI Media Group and Compas will soon launch an inclusive media initiative to help clients better connect with all audiences and communities, including Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ individuals. Says Woodland: “We believe this is where our clients need to be.”

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Work from outside pharma you admire…

Today We Rise, for Girl Up. As a Black woman, a leader and a mother, I found it special to see young girls looking up to women in leadership roles. It inspires me to be a positive role model for young women. I was moved by the connection shown in the piece, the way the women gathered together around a common cause. It is so important that we support one another to grow and achieve. — Nicole Woodland-De Van, president, Compas