When GCI Health global CEO Kristin Cahill reflects on the last year, she comes back to a moment that took place outside the traditional office walls.

Rather than assemble the company’s top leaders in a conference room or a typical event venue, Cahill hosted 70 or so people in her backyard.

“We got a big tent, stayed outdoors and spent two days talking about the future of the agency,” she recalls. “It was incredibly special to take a step back from the busy-ness of the last two years and think about where we wanted to take the company.”

Cahill believes moments like this define GCI Health. In the wake of the unpredictability of 2020, last year saw the agency steer away from simply reacting to the ups and downs of COVID-19. Instead, it began “adapting more proactively to the changes that the pandemic brought about,” Cahill notes.

That included embracing a rawer and more natural form of storytelling. “I hope that trend away from some of the glossiness that has defined content from industry in the past continues,” Cahill says. “It’s about embracing an authentic way of talking to people, because that’s what they want to hear.”

GCI Health grew revenue by 22% in 2021, to an MM+M-estimated $120 million from 2020’s estimated take of $98.5 million. Drivers of that growth included continued global expansion, with the agency adding outposts in Japan, India, Belgium and the Middle East.

“We’re following where healthcare seems to be growing so quickly,” Cahill says.

Staff size grew from 294 at the end of 2020 to 359 a year later. Among the notable additions were global chief growth officer Eleanor Petigrow (who joined from Syneos Health); SVP, strategy Sarah Dick (from Real Chemistry); group SVP, creative director Heather Linnell (from Evoke); group SVP Lisa Becker (from Real Chemistry); and group SVP Tara DiFlumeri (from Green Room Communications).

David Chadwick’s promotion to the new role of chief content officer was a big part of the rollout of what GCI Health is calling its content collaborative. “It basically houses all our creative design, editorial strategy and production teams under one umbrella,” Cahill explains.

GCI Health also saw growth in the realm of public health, adding assignments from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the END Fund. The agency also bolstered its relationship with Eli Lilly on a program supporting community health workers.

“We’ve invested a lot in the work we’re doing with Lilly and with others in the global health space,” she says. “The expertise we have in global health is what distinguishes GCI from a lot of other agencies.”

Other 2021 client additions included Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Myovant and CareDx.

As for what comes next, Cahill expects GCI Health to double down on its ambitions to become what she characterizes as “a truly globally integrated agency.”

“We want to do global work that is seamless across regions and markets,” she adds. “Because that’s where the world is headed.” 

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Work from outside pharma you admire…

Mastercard’s True Name, which allows people to choose the name that appears on the front of their debit and credit cards. Those in the LGBTQIA+ community can face discrimination and danger when the name on their card doesn’t reflect their identity. This idea does so many things right: aligns to the brand’s values, addresses an important issue, shows allyship and provides tangible support. — Cahill