To say Imre Health had an eventful 2022 would be an understatement. Partner and president Jeff Smokler left for health benefits firm Gravie in August. Two months later, founder and company namesake Dave Imre stepped down as CEO and became executive chairman. The move was part of a succession plan put in place after the agency’s sale to private equity firm RLH Equity Partners in 2021.
To replace him, the company went big-game hunting and, in October, hired former Ketchum and Golin leader Neera Chaudhary as CEO. The fit proved less than ideal, though, and Chaudhary departed in April, just six months after she arrived.
“We thank Neera for all her leadership and contributions, because she played a huge part in continuing our momentum and growth,” says Imre president Anna Kotis, who is leading the agency on an interim basis and reports to the Imre board. “We’re closing a chapter and hoping to continue that growth.”
Leadership shuffles notwithstanding, Imre Health enjoyed a successful year on the business front. Revenue increased by 9% in 2022, to $49 million from $45.1 million the year prior. Head count similarly grew, from 235 people at the start of the year to 250 people at its end.
The year’s final quarter saw the company win six AOR engagements, including one with Merck. Other business added during 2022 included work from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Amgen and the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The company counts GSK, Viatris, Bausch Health Companies and Genentech among its roster mainstays.
“Clients got to a point of starting to believe,” says Imre chief growth officer Brian Simmons. “We aren’t afraid to do things differently. We have a team that’s ready and willing to try new things.” By way of example, the company points to Amgen’s TikTok page, which Imre believes was an industry first.
“We’re fortunate, in that our clients, talent and teams are all on the right trajectory,” Kotis adds.
After a strenuous couple of pandemic years in the agency world, Simmons sees the back half of 2023 as fertile ground for transformation — and maybe for a bit of self-care.
“Anybody that works in this industry should be willing to give themselves a lot of grace right now,” he says. “There has been a lot for agencies to figure out — what’s the right model? How do we create the right culture and work environment? We need to turn our superpowers on ourselves, because there is opportunity for reinvention.”
Kotis expects Imre to continue to net AOR-type client engagements, as opposed to the digital-first assignments that used to be the agency’s stock-in-trade. “It allows our people to stretch into bigger roles,” she notes.
Meanwhile, Imre enters its second CEO search in a year without preconceived notions or a set wish list. “What are we looking for? We’re trying to figure that out,” Kotis says with a laugh. “But our growth in healthcare will be a big driver of finding that candidate.”
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With women’s health front and center in the headlines, I’m so impressed and inspired by the work Carolyn Witte is doing at Tia, the modern medical home for women. Carolyn is a true disruptor in the women’s health space and is making a real impact by empowering women to take back their health, no matter their age, on their own terms. — Kotis