MM+M salutes the 19 honorees of its inaugural Pinnacle Awards for their continuing leadership and lasting impact on the health industry. Join us virtually on June 9 to celebrate these legends.

Barry Schmader, chief creative officer, Elevate Healthcare

Barry Schmader traces his approach to marketing all the way back to his childhood. The lone redhead among his brown-haired siblings and with a distinctively Irish first name (Barry is short for Finbar), Schmader embraced everything that came with standing out. Over 30 years, he has brought a distinct and engaging consumer-centric attitude to healthcare marketing. He identifies the key differences of pharma, device and biotech brands and then creates disruptive and clever campaigns. Among his biggest hits: a congestive heart failure campaign for ACE inhibitor Altace, ads for Cordis stents and an unbranded campaign for Medtronic that resulted in competitors pulling their own campaigns. 

“Barry’s conceptual ability, bold style and consumer sensibility have resulted in some of the most aggressive, focused advertising in the industry today,” says Elevate Healthcare managing partner Frank Powers. “But he’s also willing to help you change a flat tire. That’s how he rolls.”

Dale Taylor, CEO, AbelsonTaylor

Over the 40 years that Dale Taylor has led AbelsonTaylor, the agency has grown from 15 employees to several hundred and has been instrumental in turning Prevacid, Neupogen, Aranesp, Neulasta, Tarceva, Similac and other products into megabrands. Taylor’s view of clients as partners in valued relationships — as opposed to mere revenue streams — is a large part of why he is such a respected figure in the agency world. He similarly treats his colleagues and employees with empathy and respect. “Dale cares about the talent at his agency — how they perceive him and his word,” says Tom Harrison, chairman emeritus of Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services group.

Colleagues cite “curiosity” and “joy” as central elements of Taylor’s leadership style and say he uses both to encourage intelligent, creative work. And pre-COVID, Taylor still walked the office halls daily, even after four decades.

Erica Hawthorne, executive director, digital media strategy, Bayer Pharmaceuticals

Over the last 20 years, Erica Hawthorne has been involved in every aspect of digital media — search, social and programmatic and more — from the ad tech, agency and brand sides of the business. And while she currently plies her trade at Bayer Pharmaceuticals, her career has included numerous roles outside of healthcare. At Matterkind (known as Cadreon during Hawthorne’s tenure), she led programmatic strategy for clients including the Army, the U.S. Postal Service, Hershey’s and McCormick’s.

Though she is a relatively recent arrival to the world of medical marketing, Hawthorne quickly established herself as a thought leader through her appearances on panels and as an influential blogger and podcaster. She also teaches digital marketing at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and sits on a virtual learning advisory board at Pace University, all the while acting as a mentor to and advocate for her Black colleagues. 

Dr. Harshit Jain, founder and global CEO, Doceree

Dr. Harshit Jain’s career as a healthcare innovator began even before he graduated from college. As a student, he organized India’s first 24-hour blood drive, focused on the blood disorder thalassemia. In 2008, he created the country’s first bone marrow registry, an initiative that remains active to this date. Each of his projects has been underlined by a common theme: Jain’s passion for using data and idea-driven campaigns to reimagine traditional approaches to healthcare.

During his tenure at McCann Health, Jain transformed the agency’s underperforming healthcare business unit in India with an “idea-centric” approach. His latest venture, launched in the middle of the pandemic, is Doceree, which offers a solution to the problem of marketing to physicians online. By bringing programmatic marketing to physicians-only platforms, Doceree — which is already operating in India and the U.S., and is aligned with more than 100 brands — promises to bring greater efficiency to medical marketing. 

Jeffrey Dierks, SVP and chief commercial officer, Harmony Biosciences

Even though his tenure has lasted fewer than four years to date, Jeffrey Dierks has had an outsized impact at Harmony Biosciences. He joined the organization in 2017 as a VP of marketing and was promoted to SVP and chief commercial officer in the summer of 2018. Thanks to the efforts of Dierks and his 99 team members — he’s charged with oversight of sales, marketing, insights and analytics functions — the launch of the company’s first product, EDS and cataplexy drug Wakix, exceeded expectations in terms of prescriptions, new patient starts, unique prescribers and brand awareness.

Dierks’ colleagues, however, tend to focus more on his leadership style than the raw numbers. He believes it is as important to consider the process as the goal — which, for him, means approaching tasks with a commitment to collaboration, encouraging innovation and serving as a supportive mentor. 

Jennifer Gottlieb, global president, Real Chemistry

Over the course of her 15 years at Real Chemistry, Jennifer Gottlieb has risen through the ranks, jumping from practice leader all the way to global president and board member. In 2020, her second year as president, Real Chemistry generated a company-record 62% growth in revenue, elevating from $222 million to $360 million amid a worldwide pandemic.

“Every day of my career, I think about how I can make this world a healthier place, drive change and improve patient outcomes,” Gottlieb says. Among other ways, she has pursued those goals through a host of pro bono initiatives, most recently supporting the Ad Council and COVID Collaborative’s vaccine confidence campaign. Whether leading a smooth transition to remote working or establishing a DE&I department and employee groups for women, LGBTQ+ and multicultural staff, Gottlieb regularly demonstrates that creating a supportive and safe workplace is central to her mission. 

Jim Burke, chief commercial officer, Haymarket Media

Jim Burke began his career as a registered pharmacist in Bayonne, New Jersey, but he has made his greatest impression in the worlds of healthcare publishing and marketing. Burke became a deputy editor at Haymarket Media (which owns MM+M) in 1993 and was instrumental in the growth of MPR, one of the company’s longest-
standing titles, serving first as editorial director and then director of editorial
and product management. Burke next held the post of VP of digital, where he grasped the full importance of digital and embraced it sooner than most others in the publishing industry.

As GM of medical communications, Burke assumed the reins for all of Haymarket’s medical titles. Later, he played a pivotal part in assuring that Haymarket would reach its ambitious “20-20” goal of launching 20 individual medical titles by 2020.

Karan Arora, chief commercial digital officer, global VP, AstraZeneca

This pandemic year has seen a dizzying acceleration in the embrace of digital across the healthcare marketing ecosystem — and few execs have managed it more nimbly and cleverly than AstraZeneca’s Karan Arora. By breaking down silos within the company, Arora has helped each of its divisions embrace digital. He has also installed next-generation omnichannel digital capabilities across therapeutic areas to increase efficiencies and commercial opportunities. Other recent initiatives have focused on creating tools to reduce healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes.

Arora has helped the company forge meaningful partnerships in the digital realm. He also created opportunities for startups around the world to work with AstraZeneca, enabling further advances in digital health. 

Kellie Moran, SVP, global operations, TBWA\WorldHealth 

Kellie Moran has raised the bar and elevated operations to a whole new level to optimize profitability and build business at TBWA\WorldHealth. She’s a Swiss Army Knife of an exec: Her responsibilities at the agency span resourcing, program management, operations and finance, while her areas of expertise include everything from broadcast and social media to analytics and integrated platform delivery.

Moran’s interest in healthcare dates back to her senior year in college. As her mother battled cancer, Moran discovered the challenges of accessing medical information and, later, set about addressing them. Her long career in advertising, public affairs and even Hollywood has had a consistent theme: She identifies obstacles to success and devises ways to eliminate them. “Kellie’s ability to engineer solutions and bring people along for the change needed is incredible,” says TBWA\WorldHealth CEO Robin Shapiro. “I am in awe of her talent.”

Lisa Flaiz, director, multichannel marketing, worldwide digital hub lead, Bristol Myers Squibb

With more than 25 years of experience in multichannel marketing, Lisa Flaiz has a remarkable depth and breadth of experience in healthcare marketing. Previous to joining Bristol Myers Squibb, Flaiz led Janssen Therapeutics’ digital strategy, a role which included oversight of customer engagement and experiences, digital compliance and health IT. Prior to her Janssen tenure, Flaiz served as a strategic adviser to pharma and health and wellness clients at IMC2, helping them evolve their approaches to interactive marketing. Currently at BMS, Flaiz supports a diverse portfolio of specialty brands, leveraging patient and consumer insights to improve outcomes and to drive business value. 

Flaiz is respected industry-wide not only for her commitment to assuring that clients and brands reach their goals, but also for her passion around identifying and developing talent. She is a frequent and enthusiastic collaborator with creatives, endeavoring to communicate effectively with all stakeholders in order to achieve true buy-in. 

Lisa Stockman, president, diversified communications services, Syneos Health

Owing to her wide aperture on medical affairs and reputation as one of the few communicators whom pharma C-suiters actively seek out for counsel, Lisa Stockman has established herself among the industry’s most astute and influential leaders. Her responsibilities span Syneos Health’s PR, medical communications and branding and naming offerings. 

Stockman has always valued collaboration and views it as a must-have for success, assembling teams designed to be skillful across a range of capabilities. Her simple yet succinct mantra is “we can do it,” which serves as a call to action to leaders and team members that true collaboration moves mountains. To that end, her focus has always been on people and, in particular, developing meaningful relationships with employees and clients alike.

Louisa Holland, executive director, science integration, North America Health Practice, VMLY&R

Over the course of four decades, Louisa Holland has developed innovative programs in almost every extant category, launching a host of brands, franchises and groundbreaking therapeutic modalities along the way. During the 12 years she served as co-CEO at Sudler & Hennessey, Holland helped grow the firm’s capabilities in traditional activities such as medical education and medical affairs as well as in newer ones such as animation and immersive digital experiences.

At VMLY&R, clients and colleagues continue to rely on Holland for counsel and mentorship. At the same time, she uses her abilities to advance causes important to her. She is on the board of directors of Bottom Line NY, a nonprofit dedicated to helping low-income, first-generation students earn college degrees. Similarly, her work with the Harvard Club of New York has been instrumental in providing support for low-income NYC students admitted to Harvard University. 

Michelle Keefe, president, commercial solutions, Syneos Health

Over the course of a three-decade career in a host of agency and in-house roles in and around pharma, Michelle Keefe has proven adept at getting life-changing therapies and innovative solutions to the people who need them most. During her time at Syneos, Keefe has continued to transform the commercial landscape, challenging the status quo by pushing for the development of high-value solutions. 

During her career, Keefe has been a champion for DE&I initiatives and mentorship, dedicating her time to supporting women in healthcare. She currently serves as the executive sponsor of Syneos Health’s DE&I council and a principal member of the company’s women’s group. Activities she has backed include expanded parental leave programs and the development of Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association chapters.

Molly Painter, U.S. president, Orphazyme

Molly Painter’s colleagues describe her as one of the few true visionaries in the specialized space of rare diseases. Her success, they say, is grounded in her personal commitment to the patient communities she serves and the team members with whom she collaborates.

At Orphazyme, Painter has recently dedicated herself to building a cross-functional team designed to support an anticipated launch in the rare disease area. At the same time, Painter has shown extraordinary commitment to the patients who serve to benefit from Orphazyme’s therapies. Attentive to urgent patient needs, Painter grasps the impact that therapeutic innovations can deliver in conditions for which few treatment options exist.

Nan-Kirsten Forte, EVP and GM, Everyday Health Group, Consumer

It’s no exaggeration to say that Nan-Kirsten Forte has played a paramount role in shaping healthcare media as it exists today, especially in the realm of building consumer products that address patients’ real-world concerns. In her current role and in previous stints at WebMD and iVillage, she has contributed an advanced understanding of how digital media can create informed and engaged consumers.

Forte was instrumental in the development of WebMD’s symptom checker and helped the site grow its audience to more than 100 million visitors per month. At Everyday Health, she devoted considerable time and resources to the creation of Tippi, a peer-to-peer platform that curates tips from real patients, caregivers
and experts.

Rich Levy, CCO, Klick Health

During a decades-long career in the agency world, Rich Levy has pursued two principal professional goals: growing talent and growing brands. Evidence of his success on the first front is found in the creative departments of Area 23, FCB Health, VMLY&R and McCann Health, all of which have leaders who have benefited from Levy’s mentoring. His commitment to nurturing talent has also been carried out through teaching positions at the School of Visual Arts and Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

As part of his brand-building efforts, Levy has created campaigns in a range of disease states. Meanwhile, as a member of the board of Cannes Lions Health, Levy has served as an energetic advocate for creativity in and around medical marketing. 

Stan Woodland, CEO and founder, CMI Media Group and Compas

Before countless agencies and brands based their corporate positioning around the notion of being a disruptor, Stan Woodland pushed the industry to rethink its established models for media-buying and -planning. That thinking still drives CMI Media Group and Compas. From pharma execs who rely on his counsel to employees who turn to him for guidance, he has impacted any number of people and companies. 

In 2020, the killing of George Floyd prompted Woodland to speak out in an uncommonly candid manner for a pharma executive, and he became one of the industry’s most thoughtful voices in the discussion around the need for greater DE&I. 

Steven Michaelson, founder and CEO, Calcium

Many agencies aspire to provide the resources of a big agency with none of the bureaucracy. Steven Michaelson has based his career around attempting to live up to that ideal. Over the course of a decades-long career in the agency world, he founded two agencies, Wishbone in 1998 and Calcium, where he is still the CEO, in 2012. 

Michaelson has long credited team members for the successes of the two companies. Indeed, amid the pandemic and the transition to remote work it prompted, Michaelson and his Calcium leadership team continued to emphasize that training and mentorship would remain central to the company’s mission and that employees would always be supported.

Susan Nemetz, founder and CEO, The NemetzGroup

Over the course of 35 years, Susan Nemetz has been instrumental in helping bio-pharma companies evolve from startups to established successes. Owing to her ability to build strategies around commercial functions, medical affairs and business development, Nemetz has proven invaluable to early-stage companies and large multinational public corporations alike. Much of the success of The NemetzGroup is due to the flexible consultancy model that she created, which makes it possible to connect the right experts to the right clients at the right moment. The result is greater client engagement and growth. 

As the woman owner of a small business, Nemetz has served as both an inspiration and mentor to many of her past and present colleagues.