Jessie McDonald has spent more than a decade climbing the agency ladder while honing her marketing and communications experience across the healthcare, consumer packaged goods and nonprofit sectors. Since September 2019 she has led interdisciplinary teams that develop fully integrated marketing programs for several of Imre Health’s pharmaceutical clients.

Why did you get into this industry? Where did you get started?

Always a news junkie with a passion for writing and understanding what makes people tick, I decided to study journalism and psychology in college. A few months after I graduated, I landed a job at a NYC-based public relations firm where I handled media relations for a number of healthcare organizations. PR reps often get a bad rap, but it’s an art when done well. 

Since then, I’ve worked on a wide range of marketing and communications campaigns across industries — from healthcare to consumer packaged goods brands and beyond. At the end of the day, it always comes down to finding the most creative, compelling way to engage your audience and incite them to take action. 

Any interesting events/stories that changed your career? 

When I reflect on my career in this industry so far, I’m struck by how quickly the world has changed. At the time I graduated college, the media landscape was completely different — not to mention, social media platforms that are now ubiquitous were still in their infancy, mainly used by procrastinating students (remember the Facebook “poke”?). 

Since then, the proliferation of channels and myriad brands competing for attention have really upped the ante for creative storytelling. And this year alone, COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated shifts in how people communicate and consume information. There’s a very real opportunity to disrupt the status quo — whether it’s reimagining patient education materials or rethinking how to engage physicians in a virtual world — and it’s exciting to be able to help shape what this could look like. 

Who helped you out along the way?

I believe in learning by osmosis, and feel fortunate to have worked alongside some of the best and brightest in this field. But it’s the actual patients, caregivers, advocates, doctors, nurses, scientists and more I’ve encountered throughout my career who inspire me most. I lived in Washington, DC, for a number of years and had the opportunity to bring cancer patients to Capitol Hill to share their stories and advocate for better access to care. It’s moments like that where you know the long hours, endless rounds of revisions, regulatory hurdles, etc. are worth it.

Do you wish you could have done something differently in your career?

Like anyone, I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes along the way, but I really don’t have any regrets about my career path. I try to look at every stumble as just an opportunity to learn, evolve and hopefully avoid making the same mistake twice.

Did you consider other professions?

I thought about pursuing a career in media. It ultimately wasn’t the right fit for me, but I still have tremendous respect for the reporters, editors, producers and others who put so much at risk to protect and promote the truth. 

What other goals do you have for your career/the industry?

On a personal level, I’d love to have the opportunity someday to work in a global role, outside the U.S.