Healthcare marketers often talk about the altruistic draw of their business, that is to say, their desire to help people. And they will tell you that’s the reason they’re working with life science companies rather than consumer packaged goods. However, for Shannon Hartley—Razorfish Health’s new managing director—the appeal is more personal.

“I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis seven years ago,” she shares, “and I have seen how challenging it can be to navigate our complex healthcare system.

“I know how different my life would be if we didn’t have the clinical development that found new treatments, the patient advocacy and support communities, health insurance companies delivering disease-management programs and the educated healthcare professionals that deliver new innovations in care. The work we all do matters. Being able to support, educate and help someone dealing with a health challenge is a privilege with huge responsibility.”

Hartley was named managing director of Razorfish Health in February, after Publicis Healthcare Communications Group consolidated Razorfish Healthcare with segments of Rosetta’s healthcare business to form a new agency.

“It’s a rare opportunity to create a new agency,” she says of the move, “bringing together two strong groups into something unique and much needed in the marketplace. I love strategic development and the changes happening across the healthcare ecosystem provide so many opportunities for clients and agencies to change the way we engage customers.”

For those looking for their own rare and exciting opportunities, Hartley suggests a change in perspective. “Breadth of experiences is more important than a quick promotion to the next level. Careers used to be about climbing the ladder. Now you should think about it as a rock wall—you have to move sideways or even down sometimes to get to a better place.”