What would you do if you didn’t work in healthcare?
I have been a MadWoman my entire career (never had a job that wasn’t in advertising). I started in consumer, then retail, then hospitality and then over a decade ago, fell into healthcare by accident, ultimately learning to love it fiercely. Healthcare marketing has shaped my point of view as a creative director and I’ll never leave. There is still so much to do here. That said, the day I decide I need a massive change will be the day I open my very own seafood restaurant, Sette Mari (seven seas). The branding and the menu are done and ready to go.
Can you give a shout-out to someone who helped you at a pivotal time in your career?
I could list 100 names. But here are three: Deborah Lotterman, CCO, my worthy rival, whose constant support goes beyond one moment; we are in it for the long haul. Bruce Lehman, founder of LehmanMillet, said to me once: “If you want to be a creative director, act like one NOW.” I have repeated that phrase to countless young, hungry, ambitious creatives.
Lastly, back in 2004, Toni Alexander, president and CD of InterCommunications took a chance on a young Italian designer, who could hold an X-Acto knife to build things, and filled out an illegal amount of paperwork to legally welcome her to the U.S.
How has the pandemic reset the rules on your work-life balance?
Organization and logistics are my kryptonite, I publicly admit.
At least, before the pandemic, the different physical spaces gave me a subconscious sense of time and structure: home, agency, kids’ school, activities. I can proudly say that I actually HAD balance. All of a sudden, all 24 hours were dumped into one big bucket. And I lost all the balance. Two years later, I am still figuring it all out. But I now pick up my kids every day from school and, no matter how busy work gets, I always find time to get out for a long walk.
What do you find frustrating about working in healthcare marketing?
What I find frustrating is also what pushes me to keep me going. I believe science is the highest form of creativity, its advancement relies on experimentation, failure and grit. And marketing often looks for a silver bullet, or a previous reference to something that has worked. I completely understand that by the time marketing comes into the picture, the stakes are high and the chances for errors are very low, but I’d like to see it being approached with the same ingenuity as science.
What are you doing to send the career ladder back down?
A rule I live by with creatives is: Let’s find what you’re good at and let’s make it great. I believe when passion and talent align, that’s when people are inspired, stay committed to the agency and grow. Over the years I have mentored and promoted many, who are now leaders of teams and carriers of the creative torch. That is, by far, my most proud accomplishment and the one I keep working on relentlessly.
What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?
I’ve lived in the U.S. for 19 years and at this point, my brain has fully adapted to the English language (give or take words I make up or mispronounce, which gives my kids full permission to laugh at me, and then correct me). However, when it comes to numbers and math, something shifts and I can only read, compute, think in Italian. It’s bizarre.
What is one thing you would tell young women starting their careers in healthcare marketing?
The same thing I’d tell young men: What do YOU bring to this industry that is unique, new and earns you a seat at this amazing table?
Favorite TV show/movie/song/book?
If you want to have a conversation using a bunch of famous movie references, please don’t invite me to your dinner party. Not a fan of TV and, in fact, I have proudly lived without a black box for almost a year. I devour books and music is always in the background. At any given time, I am reading a fun fiction book and a leadership, business, self-improvement one. But if I had to the one that has been my all-time favorite, I’d say The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. A twisted masterpiece full of (at times questionable) life lessons. “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”