Headshot-Cassandra Sinclair
Cassandra Sinclair

Grey’s health and wellness practice added three new leaders in recent months.

Cassandra Sinclair was appointed president of North America pharma in the global health and wellness practice, Jesse Kates was named executive creative director of the health and wellness practice in New York and Ankit Vahia was appointed executive strategy director for pharma and health and wellness in New York.

As the health and wellness practice at Grey marks its one year anniversary, Jason Kahner, president of the global health and wellness practice, reflected on how its model is working and the agency’s ability to attract top leaders like these new hires.

“Our commitment to borderless and integration has paid off tremendously,” Kahner said. “Having the fluidity of talent and being agile and nimble in the way we create our teams to make sure we have the best talent for any task, regardless of where they are in the world, has proven to be a benefit to our clients. Growth from our existing clients trusting us, being able to attract new clients and doing great work has paved the way for us to continue to grow our talent base. It has given us a great calling card by which to attract new talent. Having folks like [Sinclair, Kates and Vahia] join the team in leadership positions gives us greater success going forward in 2020 and beyond.”

That “borderless” model was a main attraction for these three new hires. All three cited the ability to work across the firm and tap into resources from consumer, tech, automotive and other sectors to create great healthcare work as the reason they joined Grey.

Sinclair’s role is newly created at Grey. Kahner said the position was formed because of “growth, business need and opportunity.” She will focus on leading pharma clients, while Kahner focuses on the health and wellness side, Sinclair said.

“Health has gone from being a vertical within consumer space to running horizontally across travel, tourism, FMCG, oil and gas and other industries,” Sinclair said. “Being a health practice within a large creative agency allows us to have the guardrails of what’s acceptable from a medical regulatory perspective, and allows us to branch out and pull in bigger creative and bigger ideas from the broader Grey world. That really nice nuance of understanding and focusing on science and wrapping it with the best creative capabilities of Grey. We’re one in the same, not carved off like other agencies.”

She joined the agency in March and reports to Michael Houston, worldwide CEO at Grey.

Previously, Sinclair spent four years at Wunderman Thompson Health, most recently as global client partner. Prior to that, she was Europe regional lead for Omnicom Accelerator and national managing director at Sudler & Hennessey.

Kates joined Grey in April. Previously, he was executive creative director at Concentric and group creative director at Neon. Over his career, he worked in creative roles at Area 23, H4B Chelsea, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, GSW, Wishbone-ITP and CDM.

He was excited about the agency valuing creative work in healthcare as much as in other sectors that aren’t governed by strict regulations.

“That demonstrated, in the most fundamental way, that Grey understands that there’s no difference in caliber and creativity between healthcare and any other form of advertising,” Kates said. “My job is to grow the business with my partners on accounts and strategy side and to elevate creative, so that when you look at something that comes out of health and wellness practice, it’s just as amazing and groundbreaking as something from the retail groups.”

Vahia joined the agency last fall. He previously spent six years with Area 23 in strategic planning roles. He began his career in academia after earning his PhD in biochemistry and biophysics.

In this role, Vahia has focused on building out the health and wellness group’s medical and strategy teams. He reports to Jonathan Lee, chief strategy officer at Grey.

“Typically an agency has HCP and DTC people or medical sits separately, our goal is to build a fully integrated group of strategists and medical people who understand the business and all the stakeholders,” Vahia said. “Clients say all the time they want to see fresh perspectives. Within a larger agency like Grey, we can tap into people who think differently and borrow learnings from other sectors for healthcare clients.”