Johanna Skilling

Head of planning, Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide


What would you do if you didn’t work in healthcare? 

Can I throw in some time travel, too? I’d be singing the blues in a small club in the 1930s. Seriously, if I weren’t working in healthcare now, I’d be spending my days in public service, preferably for a non-governmental organization focused on achieving one or more of the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
How long ago was the last time you recharged your batteries? 

This April, I took a long-planned trip to the Vézère Valley in France, a stunning area in the Dordogne that’s home to thousand-year-old cave paintings, chateaux, cheese, and perhaps just a little less wine than they had before we arrived. We stayed off the map, in a stone house built in the 1600s. A motto engraved in the open fireplace read “Water prevails over fire, as peace prevails over anger.” We also had a special privilege: a friend connected us with the local service community, allowing us to help distribute aid to refugees and a hot dinner to the homeless.
What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?

Despite all the good our clients’ products do for so many, I’m frustrated by the lack of trust in our industry – and I’m afraid some of that is earned. I’d like to see us collectively work to rebuild trust by putting more emphasis on serving the individuals, families, and HCPs who experience and deal with illness – establishing empathy before we start to simply sell our molecules. And I firmly believe when we can achieve that, both our customers and clients’ businesses will thrive.
To ensure pay parity and career advancement for women, I will…

Continue to advocate hard for the women – and men – on my team, mentoring each of them in service of achieving their professional and personal goals.
What are your words to live by?

Something my Auntie Rita told me in my 20s when I was struggling with a career decision: “The decision you make, at the time you make it, is the only decision you could have made at the time.”
What is one thing you would tell young women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?

Don’t ever lose sight of the person whose health is suffering: what can you do from where you are – in partnership with the brand you represent – to help them most?
Favorite drink?

If you go by frequency, that would be coffee, black. If you’re offering, and it’s after 6 p.m., I’d enjoy a small batch bourbon, neat.
What three people, alive or dead, would you like to host at a dinner party and why?

My grandmother, her sister, and their mother. I’d love to hear them share stories about their lives, and have them see how everything turned out so far.