Not long after completing a master’s degree in public health and a Ph.D. in cancer epidemiology, Alice Choi changed the course of her career. Academia’s loss was the agency world’s gain: she emerged as a leader equally comfortable talking connectivity, creativity and high science.

How did you get into this industry?

Like a lot of people, it was pure serendipity. I’m a scientist by training and did the whole traditional masters/Ph.D. route. I knew I didn’t want to stay in academia or waste my scientific training. When I was finishing my education I came across an advert for a management training program with one of the Omnicom agencies. I fell in love with it from the word go.

Why did you leave academia?

I realized that I had a huge appreciation for science but didn’t particularly love doing science. The lab was not for me. I like commercial problem-solving and liaising with a lot of people.

What was your “Eureka!” moment?

It was more a series of moments. I remember being onstage giving a podium presentation after I had been invited to chair the International Society for Medical Publication Professionals. “Oh gosh, I’m actually a grown-up now!”

What did you want to be when you were young?

In all honesty, my first ambition was to be a cabin attendant, because I had traveled a lot when I was younger. My next ambition was to be a wealthy housewife (laughs). I just knew I wanted to be busy and productive and work with lots of smart people. I never wanted to work in a bread bun factory — not to say bread buns aren’t fantastic, but I wanted to make a meaningful difference in the world.

What’s something about you that your colleagues don’t know?

It’s not the most positive of accolades, but I was one of the very, very, very few people in the U.K. who failed the cycling proficiency test. No one fails this; it’s unheard of. And that theme has continued: Before the first meeting I was due to have with my new boss, I had to message in and say that I fell off my bicycle. What a ridiculous thing — “I’m going to be late because I’ve just fallen off a bike.”

What’s something about working at IPG Health that people outside the company don’t know?

It’s such a humorous environment. We’re united by a common love of chocolate cake and wine.

What are your plans for eventual retirement?

Honestly, it’s hard to envisage not working. I’ve always been a person who’s done stuff; I don’t think I could go from full-on to nothing. Maybe there will be some trustee work and a bit more travel. With three daughters and doing what I do, I cannot imagine being not busy.

How have your daughters influenced you?

They are nearly 24, 21 and 19 and that forces you into this counterculture of young people that I might not normally encounter. It’s quite an entertaining journey as well, especially with the verbiage I wouldn’t have encountered. Throwing shade at people, having beef … they refer to their father as a boomer even though he’s not old enough to be in that generation. Kids are hilarious in their ability to correct whatever their parents say.

How about culturally?

My favorite artist of all time is Frankie Valli, which probably means I’m of a certain era. I think he’s a near-godlike person.