After a 40-year career in communications, Lee Davies—the recently appointed SVP, director of client services for Makovsky’s health practice—says his next big goal is to “prepare the next generation of great communicatiors for the challenges and opportunities they will face.
“My role is to share everything I have gleaned from all my experiences so that others can learn from my successes and my mistakes. That is the essence of integrated knowledge.”
He hopes to prepare them by evolving the skill sets of the agency’s younger staff, specifically by advocating for “great writing, effective media communications and the ability to speak with confidence.”
Davies’s passion for healthcare communications began in college, while attending Columbia University, where he studied biology and English. He also received a MBA in marketing from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Graduate School.
“While I didn’t have a blueprint in school, I just knew what I loved to do,” he recalls. “[I wanted to] read scientific papers and understand their implications—yes I was a Scientific American geek—think critically and articulate my ideas and problem solve. Growing up I had a mountain of logic problem-solving books.”
That joy of scientific problem solving eventually led him to Schering-Plough, where he worked as the director of global product communications and advocacy relations. He would take on a similar role at Merck, which acquired Schering-Plough in 2009, as director of global media relations and global product communications.
In his new role, Davies says he hopes to evolve traditional client services into more of a partnership and counseling type role. “Clients are moving at such a rapid pace, they have no time for yes people. They need experienced senior advisers who’ve been in the trenches and know what works and what doesn’t.”
For those looking to become more than a yes-men themselves, especially at the outset of their career, he recommends: “Listen, listen, listen. Pay attention, ask questions and learn. There is no shortcut to understanding.”