The healthcare advertising and marketing sectors have been recognized to have careers in which women leaders can flourish, flexible work schedules exist, and talent is rewarded. That has not always been the case, of course, and there’s still much room for improvement.
The 16 women profiled here number among those who have bridged the gender gap in agencies, biopharma, and medtech. They’ve been recognized as pioneers in the areas of OTC, DTC, and HCP promotion; created some of the industry’s most iconic medical advertising; and helped put multicultural marketing on the healthcare map.
See also: MM&M’s Hall of Femme: 20 Women to Watch
And that’s just a sampling of their astonishing achievements. Learn more about our inaugural Hall of Femme event. Slated for June 9, it features a summit and awards program at which attendees can meet the femmes, hear first-person narratives behind their accomplishments, and attend educational sessions that explore the issues most relevant to women leaders working in healthcare marketing today.
Marc Iskowitz, editor-in-chief, MM&M
EVP, experience design, Giant Creative Strategy
Design thinking and strategies for change — these are what Christine Armstrong is both passionate about and where she excels as a marketer, storyteller, and technologist. There’s no business or brand that does not benefit from her ability to uncover the pivotal insights that drive the creation of memorable and measurable health experiences.
Armstrong’s 20-plus years of industry leadership started within the walls of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and expanded to professional education and healthcare communication agencies. Now as EVP of experience design at Giant Creative Strategy, she plays a critical role in the strategy and design of multichannel platforms that impact physicians and patients.
Partner, global health and wellness director, Grey
With more than 35 years of experience, Millicent Badillo is an expert brand builder who has deep OTC, DTC, and HCP knowledge.
She approaches healthcare marketing as she does every other category, digging deep to find insights that drive results. While particular messages may vary per customer group, she believes DTC and HCP communications must work together, and she pushes internal and client teams to find synergies so they look and feel like one brand.
Badillo currently manages the Eli Lilly healthcare portfolio at Grey. The relationship started when creating the iconic Cialis tubs more than a decade ago; she now oversees more than 10 pieces of Lilly’s business.
SVP and head, U.S. oncology, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Teresa Bitetti leads strategy and commercial operations for the U.S. oncology organization. Previously she was president and GM of Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, where she was responsible for commercial operations across the entire portfolio.
Teresa joined BMS in 1996 and has held positions of increasing responsibility in finance, strategic planning, and marketing while successfully leading teams across therapeutic areas and functions, including virology and neuroscience. Prior to BMS, Teresa was part of the Capital Markets Group at Mobil Oil, where she was responsible for the investment of Mobil’s worldwide pension assets. She holds a BA in classical civilization and an M.B.A. in finance.
VP of specialty pharmaceuticals, BTG
“Presence.” “Excellence.” “Intelligence.” “Drive.” “Dedication.” These are some of the characteristics that colleagues who have had the pleasure of working with Christine Coyne use to describe her abilities.
Coyne has more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, which include 18 years at Wyeth across a broad portfolio. She held senior roles at Endo Pharmaceuticals and Auxilium, where she was responsible for commercial management of Voltaren Gel and market strategies for the orthopedic and dermatology portfolios, respectively. Coyne joined BTG as the VP of specialty pharmaceuticals responsible for four lifesaving antidotes representing more than $200 million in net sales.
Principal, Carling Communications
Didi Discar, principal of Carling Communications, has created a company molded in her image. The agency’s credo: It Can Be Done. No matter the goal, Discar and her staff do what it takes to make it happen.
Carling, the largest privately held pharmaceutical advertising agency in Southern California, has more than 60 employees and specializes in multiple therapeutic areas, including dermatology, aesthetics, ophthalmology, pain management, and cardiovascular medicine.
Before starting Carling, Discar began her career with Wyeth-Ayerst (now Pfizer). She had marketing oversight for the launches of Alphagan P and Restasis. Discar has helped strategize and execute nearly 50 brands.
CEO, DePirro/Garrone Advertising
From award-winning copywriter to cofounder of an advertising agency, Lisa Garrone’s trajectory in healthcare marketing has been as unique as it has been impactful.
Garrone honed her stylistic and strategic skills in a wide range of categories that included healthcare while creating some of the most memorable launch campaigns in DTC history for Zyrtec, Zelnorm, and Lamisil, among others.
As creative director for large agencies and boutique shops, Garrone saw the potential for translating her experience into founding a creatively driven independent ad agency, one of the few with such an accomplished female partner and co-owner. Combining business acumen with creativity, she has led DePirro/Garrone for eight successful years, generating high-quality work for a wide range of clients including healthcare companies like Champions Oncology, Phonak Hearing, and Pfizer.
Managing partner, TBWAWorldHealth
As a managing partner at TBWAWorldHealth, Kristen Gengaro holds responsibility for providing strategic leadership to internal teams, clients, and the external marketplace.
Prior to her tenure in healthcare marketing, Gengaro worked as a research scientist with a focus on endocrinology. Gengaro has a great deal of brand launch experience, which most recently includes Sovaldi and Harvoni for hepatitis C. She had a double major at Yale University, where she earned a B.S. in biology and a B.A. in the history of science and history of medicine.
When not at the office, Gengaro is proud of her work in Rwanda with Komera, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering self-confident women through education, community, and sports.
President, Klick Health
Lori Grant has played a leading role in growing Klick’s thriving client roster and client services teams by fostering a culture of mentorship. Through her supportive leadership, she has contributed significantly to the company’s overall growth and success.
Grant has dedicated her entire career to healthcare marketing. She has more than 25 years of strategic leadership and expertise in the industry, both on the client and the agency sides. Before being appointed president, in January 2014, she was SVP of brand development and digital strategy, heading up Klick’s strategy and client services teams for seven years.
Previously Grant held senior-level roles at large global network agencies, such as at Euro RSCG Life and Sudler & Hennessey.
VP patient access and adherence, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical
Shabnam Kazmi joined Otsuka in 2009 and has held a number of leadership positions there, focusing on the company’s entry into oncology, a copromotion alliance, and the acquisition of Astex Pharmaceuticals.
Before joining Otsuka, Kazmi was VP, licensing, at Sanofi U.S. and earlier worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb in global and U.S. marketing and lifecycle management.
Kazmi has received numerous awards and has held leadership roles on the boards of a number of organizations. She received an A.B. degree in biochemistry and economics at Smith College and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
President and CEO, Publicis Touchpoint Solutions
Michelle Keefe oversees Publicis Touchpoint Solutions’ centers of excellence, which include promotional and clinical message delivery, field and contact center channels, and support solutions.
Prior to becoming CEO, Keefe was COO and responsible for all aspects of Touchpoint’s commercial business. Previously she was VP of business development for The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the largest not-for-profit homecare provider in the U.S.
She also spent more than 20 years at Pfizer, most recently serving as regional president, Midwest. Keefe is a member of the HBA metro chapter advisory board and serves as a mentor in the HBA group mentoring program.
Healthcare entrepreneur, brand builder, and mentor, MRB Partners
As a serial entrepreneur, Maureen Regan recently founded her second company, MRB Partners, with her partners from Regan Campbell Ward (RCW). MRB is working on a new model for healthcare communications. The startup will launch its first product this summer. Founded in 1997 with Regan at the helm, RCW became one of the fastest-growing and most profitable agencies in industry history.
An industry pioneer, Regan became the first woman to run a major healthcare agency — LM&P — and was the second advertising executive voted HBA Woman of the Year.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Regan was the first advertising executive voted HBA Woman of the Year. She was the second.
JO ANN SAITTA
Chief digital officer, Omnicom Health Group
Jo Ann Saitta has more than 20 years of experience in driving sustainable competitive advantage through transformational technologies. Her experience includes Fortune 100 and midsize public firms in the biopharmaceutical, technology, and financial industries. She contributes to life science and marketing publications and speaks publicly on digital transformation in healthcare.
Through Saitta’s leadership, the Omnicom Health Group launched iVenturesHealth, a division that applies technology to solve healthcare communication challenges, in 2015.
As chief digital officer, Saitta is leading the advancement of Omnicom’s proprietary marketing software and data intelligence solutions as well as the expansion of digital technology consulting services.
Partner, global health and wellness director, Pfizer
Judy Sewards leads a team charged with accelerating the adoption of robust digital and data solutions and compliant policies across Pfizer. Her other senior positions have included team leader for the U.S. Celebrex and Flector Patch businesses, head of the primary care U.S. marketing innovation incubator, and consumer lead for the iconic Viagra brand.
Prior to Pfizer, Sewards led client insights, brand strategy, and advertising for the Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management brand. In addition to that, she offers diverse experience ranging from tech startup to brand planning and management consulting.
Sewards received her B.A. from Smith College, where she also served as a member of the board of trustees.
VP, marketing, Cochlear Americas
Patricia Trautwein’s 25 years in the hearing healthcare industry include roles in research and clinical studies, product management, education and training, and sales and marketing. At Cochlear Americas she is responsible for marketing strategy, communications and PR, and product management.
Since joining Cochlear, Trautwein has championed marketing’s role as an accountable business function aligning closely with sales and research and development. Her team builds programs for B2B and B2C marketing strategies. Most recently she leads the program responsible for creating and delivering the integrated marketing plan for the company’s DTC growth initiative globally.
LILI GIL VALLETTA
Cofounder and president, XL Alliance
Liliana Gil Valletta is an award-winning entrepreneur, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and TV media contributor. She is the cofounder and president of XL Alliance, a firm dedicated to unlocking the power of today’s multicultural markets.
Prior to launching XL, Valletta had a 10-year career at Johnson & Johnson, where she was one of the youngest executives, pioneered multicultural marketing initiatives, and cofounded the Hispanic Employee Resource Group, Hola. In 2015 she launched CulturIntel, a proprietary big data methodology that maps the patient journey across cultural segments. She is a member of the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board and the YMCA USA board of directors.
VP of marketing, Tris Pharma
As the VP of marketing at Tris Pharma and as Tris Pharma’s first commercial hire, Gwen Washington was instrumental in building its commercial infrastructure including the marketing function and preparing the company for its first branded product launch — Dyanavel XR.
Prior to joining Tris Pharma, Washington was the senior marketing director for the ADHD franchise at Shire. She has been in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 25 years. She graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. in English and journalism and is the proud mother of Jazmine, a high school student and budding artist, and Justin, soon to be a middle school student and future soccer pro.