15 on the Rise

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Get acquainted with some of medical marketing's hottest prospects. Expect to read a lot more about them in the next 40 years.

Abe Ceesay
Product manager, Synvisc, Genzyme
Age: 28   
Years in the industry: 4

Abe Ceesay believes that the opportunity to work for an organization that always does what is right for the patient is a unique experience. With a long-abiding interest in healthcare—he once wanted to be a health teacher—Ceesay started working for Genzyme as an MBA intern, and after graduation, joined full-time as a field specialist representing Carticel®. He has since transitioned from sales into marketing, but has stuck with Genzyme through it all. “The biotech industry, specifically Genzyme, is deeply invested in improving patient care, disease education and access to care,” Ceesay says. “It's been a perfect fit.” In the future, Ceesay wants a successful general management career in the biotech industry, which, according to one nominator, is likely. “Abe has a great understanding of the market and is a great communicator with a willingness to do the right thing for the brand in all situations. The biggest quality he shows at his young age is judgment.”

Kristin Girouard
Account supervisor, Wishbone
Age: 24   
Years in the industry: 2

After graduating from Colgate University with a biology degree, Kristin Girouard knew she wanted to use her science background in a business setting.  On the suggestion of a friend, she interviewed for an account position at LLNS, and got the job.  Now at Wishbone, Girouard loves her career choice, saying, “It has been the perfect fit for me, mixing science, business and creativity all while working with such talented people.” At Wishbone, those people include senior management, who Girouard describes as “seasoned professionals” and considers valuable mentors. Colleague's comments show the feeling of value is mutual. “Kristen has become indispensable at the agency...she is what anyone would dream of for an account executive. What has somehow been instilled in her DNA is drive, passion and commitment... yet what is even more outstanding is it comes wrapped in charm, wit and a complete willingness to understand the issues. There is not a client at Wishbone that hasn't fallen in love with her…it's hard not to, we have.”

Fabio Gratton
Co-founder, chief innovation officer, Ignite Health
president, CEO, Incendia Health Studios
Age: 34   
Years in the industry: 9

When Fabio Gratton co-founded Ignite Health in 2000, the company started out in “The Hole”—aka a restaurant's basement. One night, a sewage pipe burst, and Gratton found himself standing in six inches of what looked like (but wasn't) mud. For Gratton, now encased in Ignite's two large Irvine-based buildings with more than 75 employees, this is a great memory. “It reminds us just how far we've come,” he says. Italian-born Gratton started out writing screenplays for Paramount, then took a job at FCB HealthCare West to help pay the bills, and he hasn't looked back since. “I found that the agency world wasn't that different from Hollywood,” Gratton says. “Seeing good ideas get executed is exhilarating, but what makes this work special is the fact that the programs we create for doctors and patients have a very tangible benefit on people's lives.” Gratton has found ways to bring his love for the movie industry to his agency work, creating Ignite's animated series, “Live With It”—following the lives of five HIV positive characters—and plans to develop more educational programming at Incendia.  

Steven Hébert
SVP, Group Creative Director, Sudler & Hennessey
Age: 32   
Years in the industry: 7

Steven Hébert came into advertising in a roundabout manner.  After obtaining an English literature degree, and starting an organic coffee roasting company with his father in California, Hébert traded in soil for skyscrapers and moved to NYC where on his third day there he answered a New York Times classified ad under “advertising.”  Seven years later, he has worked at Saatchi & Saatchi, Grey Healthcare Group, Euro RSCG Life, and now Sudler & Hennessey (S&H).  Hébert appreciates S&H's family feel, believing that, “in a competitive, pressure-filled industry such as ours, this sense of community and support helps our creative product rise about the rest.” Teamwork was instilled in Hébert early in his career, when a senior-level account person took him aside and chided him for using the word ‘I' too much in his interactions with a client. “From that point on,” Hébert says, “I realized that everything ‘I' did or accomplished was really something ‘we' did as a team.”  

Brian Hull
EVP, strategic business unit leader, GfK V2
Age: 38   
Years in the industry: 14

When the GfK Group's global network asked GfK V2 to nominate an individual to their global excellence team – a group of 10 people selected from GfK's 8,000-person worldwide employee base – they selected Brian Hull.  For this Rising Star selection therefore, a nominator declared him, “a clear choice.”  With a B.S. in finance and an MBA in marketing, Hull's career started on Wall Street, but after some thought, he switched to pharmaceutical marketing research.  “I was very interested in having a career in strategic consulting that offered a discipline like high-end marketing research,” he says.  “I also wanted to ensure I worked in an exciting and dynamic industry.  After much investigation, I thought the pharmaceutical strategic marketing research space would fulfill my criteria.” For Hull, much of the industries' dynamism stems from its people, whom he describes as smart and talented professionals.  In the future, he hopes to help continue to drive the success of the companies at which he works, and eventually, build an organization himself.  

Mark Iwicki
VP, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Business Franchise Head, Novartis
Age: 39   
Years in the industry: 16

“Pharma is one of those careers,” says Mark Iwicki, “Where you can do good as well as do well. Do good for patients and people, and do well for yourself and professionally.”  To date, Iwicki has done both. He started as a Merck sales rep, and then moved to Astra Merck, working on Prilosec while it rocketed from sales of $150 million to $4 billion. At Novartis, he launched Zelnorm and is currently working on three new launches—diabetes drug Galvus and hypertension meds Rasilez and Exforge. “We are doing an unprecedented amount of cardiovascular launches in the next year,” he says, “which we believe will establish Novartis as the premier cardiovascular company in the industry.”  Future goals include contributing meaningfully to patients, the industry, and the development of his colleagues, as well as someday running even larger businesses than he does now. He has the confidence of at least one nominator, who states, “Mark Iwicki is going to run a drug company one day.”

Brian Johnson
Group Product Director, Clobex and New Business Opportunities, Galderma Laboratories
Age: 40   
Years in the industry: 18

What do a pirate, Paul Shafer and a rock star have in common? Brian Johnson has dressed up like all of them during launch meetings. Johnson earned a bachelor's  from the University of Kansas, a master's from Southern Methodist University, and worked at Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical and Medicis. “With the product line I'm responsible for, it takes passionate and consistent execution of the messages in the field to be successful. I'm lucky to work with a team that understands that.”

Kim Johnson
VP, account director, Wunderman
Age: 31   
Years in the industry: 10

“I'm extremely passionate about healthcare marketing because I believe it aids in the public awareness and education of health-related issues and conditions as well as provide options for wellness and healthy living,” states Kim Johnson. At Wunderman, Johnson has worked on Chantix, Zyrtec, and Xenical, handling all DRTV, Print, Direct Mail, Online and TeleCom channels and helping integrate all the efforts across all brands. “Working at Wunderman affords me the opportunity to work among some of the best .”  

Brian Krick
Associate media director, Avenue A | Razorfish
Age: 28   
Years in the industry: 7

Brian Krick's initial spark with interactive advertising occurred when he was working at McCann-Erickson Los Angeles. After returning to the East Coast, he saw an opening at i-Frontier, and was intrigued by the interactive media buying practice burgeoning in his own back yard. His first pharma account, Claritin, shifted his focus to pharmaceutical marketing. “DTC promotion was reaching critical mass…We saw, and still see, a real opportunity for digital marketing there.”

David McGovern
Director, new products, Biopharma Marketing, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals
Age: 33   
Years in the industry: 12

According to a nominator: “David McGovern, a veteran of J&J and Merck, led an organization transformation at Wyeth by integrating efforts for interactive, direct response and DTC advertising for Wyeth's promoted brands. McGovern's early successes with Effexor, and team leadership of DM efforts with Altace, Premarin, and Protonix, led to new benchmarks in ROI, and mass-targeted reach for Wyeth consumer efforts.” Yet, while this record makes McGovern a Rising Star, he evaluates his success differently.  “The best part of this job,” he says, “is when you know your product/program, together with healthcare professionals, have improved the lives of patients with severe illnesses that have devastating effects to the patient, the caregiver and their families.  For example, after conducting research with hemophilia patients, people thanked us for thinking about their needs on a personal level…They were glad to see we were not thinking of them as just someone who happens to take a vial of medicine—but as a person whose life we could help improve.”

Ariel Mihic
Senior product manager, Avastin Marketing, Genentech
Age: 29   
Years in the industry: 6

“One of the best and brightest young talents it has been my pleasure to work with in years is Ariel Mihic,” says one nominator. “Ariel possesses an unusual mix of deep, scientific knowledge, combined with keen insights, and marketing and people skills that have made her a unique asset throughout her career at Novartis, Amarin and InterMune, where she was responsible for a doubling of Infergen sales prior to the product's divestiture to Valeant.” Mihic entered pharmaceutical marketing because she believed the career would be intellectually and emotionally satisfying, and while acknowledging that saying she loves her job because of its impact on patients sounds “trite,” it rang true when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I am so proud that I work for a company that discovered one of the drugs that is saving my mom's life, and that I work on a drug that is saving many more,” she says. “So yes, it's fun to pick brand colors and create product messages that resonate, but most of the rewards come from the intangible impact we have on patients.”

Jonathan Peischl
VP, creative director, Kane and Finkel—Healthcare Communications
Age: 34   
Years in the industry: 11

After graduating from college with degrees in biology and English, Jonathan Peischl wanted to become a physician. “My plans fell apart,” he says, “when I realized that creativity and writing were essential in my everyday life.” He instead stumbled into healthcare advertising, working at FCB HealthCare West, Fair Riley Call/Bozell, the Hal Lewis Group, and Ignite Health, where he was the startup's first employee. Now at Kane and Finkel, Peischl believes the agency's drive and creative talent are second to none, saying, “I'm challenged on a daily basis to push the quality of the creative to new levels.”  Another bonus of the work environment is his wife, Stefanie, VP, director of client services. “Having been introduced into our industry during the digital age, Jonathan is a ‘new school' medical marketer,” says a nominator. “He combines contemporary thinking with cutting edge applications. Jonathan brings out the best in his creative colleagues, by inspiring rather than micromanaging.”  

Steven Trask
SVP, management supervisor, Ferguson
Age: 32   
Years in the industry: 10

With a bachelor's degree in advanced science and medicine from the University of Hartford, Steven Trask started his healthcare career in the US Air Force, serving as a medical technologist during the Persian Gulf War.  After the war, Trask moved to the North American Lab Group, working as a microbiologist providing research support services to government and commercial clients. Next, he went into pharmaceuticals, joining Parke-Davis in 1998 as a territory manager –later promoted to Area Sales Trainer–in Manhattan for the launch of Lipitor and Rezulin. Early on, Trask realized that the average field representative was expected to be, “a walking Pepsi commercial,” causing him to question how a particular brand position was determined for these “commercials.” This curiosity prompted his transition to pharmaceutical advertising. Trask held positions at Robert A. Becker, Grey Healthcare Group, Torre-Lazur Communications and Medicus NY before coming to Ferguson, where colleagues describe him as someone who, “totally gets the 360 marketing expertise required to create and grow brands in today's world.”

John Vieira
Marketing, Daiichi Sankyo
Age: 36   
Years in the industry: 14

John Vieira's educational background is in biology/psychology and business, and these interests have carried over into his pharmaceutical career. “Broadly speaking, healthcare and business are both interests of mine,” Vieira says. “I am particularly interested in the unique challenge of combining the delivery of health services and products that are important to people with the business needs that drive corporations. Crafting this balance creates tension but also great opportunity. The pharmaceutical industry is a place where the work you do can be creative and also leads to helping people live better lives.” At Daiichi Sankyo in particular, Vieira enjoys the flexibility and opportunity for creativity that the company offers, as well as the intelligence of his colleagues. He also touts Daiichi's great pipeline. “He's among the top five smartest people I've ever met in this industry,” said a nominator. “He excels at synthesizing a lot of info, boiling it down and moving forward; he is very decisive.”

Brett Villagrand,
Group product manager, Genentech
Age: 37   
Years in the industry: 14

With a career spanning multiple countries and companies—Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and the United States, working at Juraku Hotel Group, Yellow Pages, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, Novartis and now Genentech—Aussie Brett Villagrand still has an Australian mindset. This meshes well at Genentech, described by Villagrand as, “an organization that is entrepreneurial in spirit, who incidentally has great science to back it up.” That science has of course lead to important drugs, the significance of which Villagrand recalls seeing at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2005 meeting, when he witnessed physicians crying at the prospect of a cure when first presented with Herceptin adjuvant data. Outside of work, Villagrand enjoys surfing, skiing, running, rugby, and spending time with his family, whose international bent merits his description of them as, “a league of nations.” Nominators say, “Villagrand has successfully developed a launch team for a new indication and rallied the company and agencies behind his vision.”

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