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

That is very tough because I grew up seeing my mom who worked hard as a specialty respiratory RN in the ICU, and in one way or another healthcare has been intertwined in my life. But if I had to choose, I would say I’d love to be a journalist. Not in broadcast per se but I love hearing and telling the stories of others. 

Growing up in NYC, you were exposed to great news publications in the area and talking through current events was my favorite topic in school. At one point in my junior high, I was the editor-in-chief for our school paper. I was so proud that we came in first place for a Newsday (newspaper popular in Queens and Long Island) school contest. It’s an exhilarating field because no two days are ever the same which is what I love about advertising as well. I don’t think I could do a job where every day is the same.  I love the fact that each new day is a new adventure!

Can you give a shout-out to someone who helped you at a pivotal time in your career?

My first day on the job in any agency, I met a woman named Julie Finch (she’s since changed her name). She was onboarding me to take on her role because she had been promoted to another team and was shifting from medical education to advertising. She was amazing! My only sadness was that I literally had less than an hour to learn everything from her. It had taken a while to identify her backfill so at the time of my start date, Julie was already into her new role and things were heating up (I think a lot of folks can relate to jumping into the deep end on their first day). What made this time different is that Julie was so thorough. She had already prepared a cheatsheet as well as FAQs that answered any question I could imagine. She prepared me for how to work with my new (challenging) boss at the time. We are still close friends to this day. At the time, I didn’t realize how rare she was and as another talented, Black woman in healthcare advertising, for a long time she and I would commiserate on the struggles of being one of the “few.” I am proud of the changes that she and I have seen together. We help one another, counsel each other and always threaten to go directly to each other’s mothers should either of us get out of line!

How has the pandemic reset the rules on your work-life balance?

As with most, the pandemic has been challenging but also eye-opening at the same time. Pre-pandemic, I was traveling every week (sometimes twice a week) — it was constantly planes, trains and automobiles! I love what I do so I didn’t pay attention to it but once the pandemic hit, I realized how much time I had been missing with my family. I was able to spend time with my daughter to actually work on class projects and not just see the end results. I was able to work from home at my mom’s house so that I could help her acclimate during the pandemic and that meant the world to her. As we return to the office and live meetings with clients, I now manage time away from my family very carefully. I want to make sure that the travel and time away from home makes sense. I have also learned to schedule personal time to my calendar for personal obligations but also for time to think. I want to make sure that I help my teams create meaningful and impactful interactions but I have to model that behavior for them.

What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?

Working in healthcare can sometimes feel like running through a desert with a backpack. It is often challenging, it can feel isolated from other industry sectors, there are scarce resources and there are a lot of extremes to wrangle and clarify (meaning you could go from deafening calm to a harrowing sand storm). That being said, there are also moments of surprise and great relief with that desert flower or surprising medical advance that you didn’t think was possible. No two days are the same which can be hard to plan for but it keeps you on your toes. 

The greatest challenge can be recruiting talent to take that adventure with you through the desert. Working in healthcare marketing is not for the faint of heart and you need visionaries who are hopeful for a better future in healthcare and who want to be change agents.

What are you doing to send the career ladder back down?

It is important for me to send the ladder back down to the professionals coming behind me, especially for diverse talent. I divide my time in this area through a variety of ways. I continue to be invested and involved with a business resource group that I helped to cofound in Publicis Groupe, called Viva Women of Color (VWOC). At the core of our mission is to engage women of color and their allies within the Publicis Groupe network and the industry in a way that helps them achieve their goals in the communications industry. In addition to my responsibilities there, I also volunteer as a mentor for junior talent in our industry. Most recently, I served as a mentor as part of the Effie Academy and Advertising Bootcamp. I was assigned one mentee in the program who was responding to a brief/challenge put forth by a client. It was so rewarding and fun for me and my mentee. I love getting to know junior talent across the industry and I believe it is my obligation to give back. My door is always open for anyone who wants to reach out.

What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?

What most folks may not know is that I love to write. Specifically, my favorite thing to do is to write poetry. I know that for a client services professional, we aren’t known for having a creative side but I love words and writing poetry is sometimes how I calm myself in my quiet time. I usually don’t share my work unless it is for a special occasion — say, a funeral for a loved one or for a family member’s birthday.

What is one thing you would tell young women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?

It is important for young women in this industry to support as they enter a career in healthcare marketing. The one thing that I ask that they keep in mind is this — what we do as marketers has purpose and it matters. We are agents operating in an industry that impacts every single person on the planet. Why? Well, if you don’t have your health, you cannot live out your dreams, you may struggle to keep or grow your profession and any challenges with your help impacts loved ones. To that end, as operators in this space, we should seek to champion the banners of health and we should be advocates for this industry. The storytelling, the insights uncovering and the business consulting that we do has real implications and the potential to change the trajectory of someone’s health journey. That should not be taken lightly and if you feel called to work in this industry and can withstand some of the headwinds that often comes our way, you may not find any more noble cause. I know I have a purpose in this industry and I encourage young women starting out to find theirs too. I also tell them to keep in mind, healthcare experience is not needed but healthcare passion is.

Favorite TV show/movie/song/book?

I have a lot of favorites but here are some to name a few: movie: The Sound of Music; book: Paradise by Toni Morrison; TV Show: toss-up between Law & Order-Special Victims Unit and Midsomer Murders.