The Collaborators

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PharmaVOICE Staff

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Jesse Johanson
Voicing Collaborative Ideas

Title: Executive VP, Director of Strategic Planning
Company: McCann Echo
Education: BS, Animal Science, MS, Nutritional Science, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Family: Wife, Amy; children, Madeline and Michael, who have always been hugely supportive of everything he does
Hobbies: Coaching soccer, fly-fishing, gardening
Bucket List: Fly fishing in Cuba, hiking in New Zealand
Associations: New Jersey AIDS Services, trustee; West Morris Soccer Club, trustee
Social Media:

The tone of a voice can speak volumes about a leader. With Jesse Johanson, executive VP and director of strategic planning at McCann Echo, his voice and vision set the stage for carrying weighty strategic insights out into the world, informed by 20-plus years of industry experience across multiple brand categories.

Colleagues describe Mr. Johanson’s voice as a thundering, floor-shaking baritone, but one that helps to set a steady pace for the talented 16-person strategic planning department he built and leads, carrying them forward with the confidence to speak with their own unique voices.

His decades of experience help clients develop distinct portfolio strategies, branded prelaunch and launch campaigns, and winning business plans, not to mention inspirational strategic platforms from which groundbreaking creative ideas arise and thrive.

Clients describe him as courageous, bringing constructive friction to strategic and collaborative thinking in a way that helps ensure success across each franchise.

Competitive by nature, Mr. Johanson says collaboration across the McCann Health network makes it possible to provide the best solutions to clients and truly separate the agency from the competition.

He says his greatest career accomplishment to date has been assuming leadership of the strategic planning department at McCann Echo and growing it significantly in size and capability to include scientific strategy, patient engagement strategy, and digital strategy.

“Because the strategic planning team includes so many disciplines, it should be an excellent source of innovation for our agency,” he says. “I strive to create a collaborative environment that challenges the status quo. The realities of day-to-day demands makes innovation a constant challenge.”

His most challenging assignment to date has been to integrate multiple disciplines into a cohesive offering for clients.
Egalitarian by nature, Mr. Johanson never talks about titles and values work ethic, creative problem-solving, and blue-sky thinking above all else. He rolls up his sleeves to hammer out workshop plans and strategic platforms alongside junior and senior colleagues alike and he is not above volunteering to make copies, order lunch, or bring some tired soul a cup of coffee.
He inspires those around him by giving them the freedom to be innovative, creative, and fearless.

Senior leaders have a responsibility to remove the financial and ego-driven limitations that hinder true collaboration, he maintains, noting that it is these factors that inhibit the type of cross-company collaborations that could benefit customers and patients.

Mr. Johanson is an equally good listener, whose contagious laughter rings out after every joke, and who always asks about others.

Recognizing that being open builds trust and loyalty, he says he wants those he works with to know him as a person, so what they see is what they get.

He says he would like to be remembered as a good person who cared more about the success of his people than his own.

Between what seem to be weekly jaunts to London, Spain, or North Carolina to run strategic workshops and solve rising challenges, Mr. Johanson manages to find the time to lend his voice to the needs of a larger community. He serves on the board of directors for New Jersey AIDS Services (NJAS). Every year, he and his family cook Thanksgiving dinner for NJAS clients and participate in the NJAS annual bike ride for AIDS.

He has worked in HIV/AIDS for nearly a decade and has a real passion for the challenges this horrific disease creates for people all over the world. (PV)


Johanna Skilling
Planning Together

Title: Head of Planning
Company: Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide
Education: BA, History, German, cum laude, Tufts University and Eberhard-Karls Universität; Integrated Marketing, New York University; Certificate in Narrative Medicine, Columbia University
Family: Her partner, John Ciongoli, who encourages her every day to do great things
Hobbies: The usual New York adventures: classic theater, interesting music, insider and outsider art, and the occasional hour at the gym
Bucket List: Staying healthy and happy, not taking anything for granted, and taking a sabbatical to spend weeks on end in favorite and new spots around the world
Awards/Honors: UN Leadership Award, 2016
Social Media:
Tweet at: @johannask

Even colleagues who have worked with Johanna Skilling, head of planning at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide (OCHWW) for only a few short months recognize her flair for excellence. Colleagues call her the most nurturing leader, boss, and mentor they’ve ever had. A passionate, inspirational leader, Ms. Skilling stepped into OCHWW and immediately took the teams and by storm and reinvigorating tools.

Her first task was to bridge the N.Y. and N.J. planning departments, and she did. Before her arrival, the teams in New York and New Jersey acted independently and there was almost no collaboration or sharing of ideas. The N.J. team was small, with fewer than five planners supporting far too many brands within the agency, and thus overstretched between existing business and new business pitches. The N.Y. team was larger, but still under-resourced for the brand support needed.

Ms. Skilling used her extensive experience leading planning groups across a number of different agencies to elevate the strategic planning role within OCHWW and attract new talent. Under her leadership, she has more than tripled the headcount of the group to extend support to more brands and to help with more new business pitch work. It has been through her leadership, persistence, and advocacy that the skill center has been experiencing such positive momentum, colleagues say.

She also helped bring the N.Y. and N.J. teams together to share ideas that have resulted in benefits ranging from the diversity of talent to the experience of the department. She has motivated a team of 25-plus to up their game and think differently and challenge the norms. She reinvigorated the department by introducing new ways to look at trends and mine for insights.
Finally, Ms. Skilling led efforts to establish the planning role within OCHWW itself among the account teams, many of which had not experienced nor understood the role or benefits that a planner can bring to his and her accounts and clients.

She measures success by the happy, productive, motivated team members, who create great work that makes a difference in the market — all leading to energized, excited, successful clients and brands.

Colleagues say Ms. Skilling has demonstrated a remarkable amount of care and interest toward their career, which is an amazing advantage to have from someone in such a senior-level role. She consistently challenges her teams to think deeply, to ask questions, and to share their opinions, ultimately helping build their confidence and skills as planners.

She inspires her teams by modeling the behavior she would hope to see, being an open listener, praising and sharing achievements, and providing constructive critiques with the aim of fostering future success.

Before coming to OCHWW, Ms. Skilling built and led planning teams at Saatchi Wellness, Havas Lynx, and Havas Life. Several members of her OCHWW team have followed her from previous employment, a testament to her leadership skills. She is one of those rare and fiercely passionate individuals employees just want to be around, latch onto, and learn from, colleagues say.

“I enjoy supporting and guiding my teammates in their quest for personal and professional success,” she says. “I’ve always loved John Naisbitt’s idea of leading from behind, which I’ve since learned is attributed to leaders as diverse as Lao Tzu and Nelson Mandela. I like to think my leadership style fosters curiosity, creativity, and innovation in the team, which allows me to guide them over, through, and around obstacles.”

She has written two books about women’s health and often submits thoughtful articles to healthcare marketing publications; she also teaches classes in strategy and planning at NYUSPS.

Ms. Skilling also was recently invited to join the board of birectors at the Pvblic Foundation, working on behalf of the United Nations to promote the Secretary General’s 2030 sustainable dvelopment goals. In June of last year, she was honored with a UN Leadership Award for driving social impact.

Ms. Skilling says she is driven to find answers.

“Why? is easily my favorite question,” she says. “Followed closely by how? What? So what? And who will it help?” (PV)


Stacy Joseph-Reese
Regulatory Innovator

Title: Director, Regulatory Affairs Advertising and Promotions
Company: Teva Pharmaceuticals
Education: Sociology/Psychology, Rutgers University
Family: Her husband and son, for their ongoing love and support; her parents, in-laws, and grandparents for always believing in her
Hobbies: Reading, painting murals, making jewelry, and spending time with family
Bucket List: Opening an art gallery in Philadelphia to support local artists
Social Media:

An industry role model, Stacy Joseph-Reese embodies all the traits and skills of a collaborative strategic thinker. She is highly regarded for her business acumen, ability to provide strategic direction on compliant advertising and promotion, as well as navigating the evolving regulatory landscape.

When social media was first on the rise, Ms. Joseph-Reese recognized the need to proactively develop and implement regulatory strategies and policies for digital technologies. While at AstraZeneca she received company recognition in her role as the regulatory digital lead, for helping to develop a path forward on digital initiatives such as social media. She also participated on a social media strategic working group with regulatory leads across industry to discuss social media solutions with OPDP and at the FDA public hearing.

As she has moved into other companies — first to Shire and now at Teva as director of regulatory affairs advertising and promotion — she has continued to represent the regulatory perspective on the digital media teams.

Ms. Joseph-Reese understands the importance of coming to the table prepared, clearly communicating issues, and collaborating as a team to provide viable solutions.

She brings value to the larger organization by researching FDA guidances, correspondence, enforcement action, and industry trends to proactively identify regulatory opportunities, challenges, and strategic solutions. She then develops tools and resources such as checklists, summaries, templates, and a shared digital system to increase understanding and consistency across the organization.

“I would like to be remembered as a valuable strategic partner who offers innovative regulatory solutions on competitive industry tactics and initiatives,” she says.

Ms. Joseph-Reese started out as a regulatory advertising and promotions coordinator, and it was there she discovered her passion for regulatory.

“I would like to be remembered as someone who proactively found creative, viable regulatory solutions that moved industry companies forward,” she says.

Ms. Joseph-Reese is driven to find solutions even when tasked with challenging objectives that do not present a clear path forward. Generating new ideas and providing a variety of ways to achieve a desired goal entails collaboration, thinking outside-of-the-box, and being open-minded.

“I find that conducting research on a topic and soliciting feedback as needed helps to advance decision making,” she says. “I also believe that after a solution is identified, widely sharing the results helps to move the company forward in a timely manner.”

Optimistic by nature, Ms. Joseph-Reese believes that even challenging situations, may produce unexpected positive outcome down the road. Energetic, dynamic, vivacious, and courageous, she inspires her teams with a positive attitude and by collaborating on viable regulatory solutions that meet competitive business objectives. She goes above and beyond to help carve out new opportunities and focuses on sharing knowledge to help her company, its employees and the industry grow stronger.

She seeks to inspire others by caring about their ambitions, challenging them to do their best and guiding them to achieve their goals.

Ms. Joseph-Reese is committed to continued growth as a regulator, a business partner, and as a person in general. As part of that growth, she is dedicated to helping others achieve their goals.

“I enjoy mentoring my peers, developing regulatory guardrails, and sharing knowledge with others throughout the industry,” she says.

She shares her expertise in various forums, such as at the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) events and at other industry events designed to help ad promo regulatory professionals be innovative thinkers. (PV)


John Lopos
Giving More Than 100%

Title: Executive VP, Commercial Strategy & Client Services
Company: Triple Threat Communications
Education: BA, Psychology, Grinnell College
Family: Wife, who has an innate, organic creativity and an incredible wisdom and skill in understanding people; and son, who has an independent spirit, is creative and talented, with a big heart and mind
Hobbies: Play upright bass and bass guitar, write music, cook, and volunteer in the community
Bucket List: Travel the world with his family, peace-time permitting; finish “the album” and take six months off to tour with a band; volunteer with traveling medical teams who provide free surgeries in poor countries; restore an antique violin for his son; write a cookbook that doubles as a memoir; have lunch or coffee with Peter Gabriel and Tony Levin
Awards/Honors: In-Awe awards; Pinnacle, Wall of Fame, and Summit Awards, at Sanofi
Associations: National Sleep Foundation, board of directors; Montrose Park Historic District Association, trustee; Public Information and Marketing Committee for the Village of South Orange, chair; SouthNext Arts Festival, steering committee
Social Media:
Tweet at: @pharmalift

According to colleagues, John Lopos doesn’t do anything 100%. He does everything 120% or higher. A renaissance man, Mr. Lopos gives his all and then a little more to everything he does, and he does a lot. From singer and upright bassist, to his role as advocate and board member for the National Sleep Foundation, to playing a leadership role at Triple Threat, Mr. Lopos brings a tireless, unflagging enthusiasm and commitment to every part he plays.

As a volunteer and member of the board of directors for the National Sleep Foundation, Mr. Lopos has helped influence a major paradigm shift in sleep health, including how insomnia and other sleep disorders are understood by the public and managed by clinicians. His collaborative talents brought together experts in sleep science and sleep disorders medicine and facilitated meaningful discussions. His active listening, intelligent questioning, polished manner, and positive outlook have contributed to his success then and now.

He has very effectively bridged commercial and clinical interests with his insights that integrate industry and illness.

As executive VP, commercial strategy and client services, at Triple Threat, Mr. Lopos follows his own definition of leadership, which is motivating people around a common goal and mobilizing them to give the best of their combined talents and make good things happen.

Colleagues look to him as a leader within the organization and as a true example of what the company stands for: relationships, good and accurate work, and putting the clients’ business first. He is dedicated to his team and to his clients and will do what it takes to help those around him succeed, whether it’s through his big-picture strategic thinking or his ability to get into the everyday details.

He is a trusted advisor and team members say cares deeply about their career growth and personal issues. He manages to find time for everyone. One can always drop by his office or call him on the phone to bounce ideas off of him, and walk away more informed than before.

Mr. Lopos runs major pieces of business at the agency, all while spearheading new business development efforts, and as a result good things do happen. He has been instrumental in championing the company’s behavior design approach to customer communications, bringing it to a new level of commitment and focus. His deep experience on both client and agency sides, mainstream pharma marketing and more specialized areas such as data analysis and medical education gives him knowledge about virtually ever facet of the business. His medical education experience gives him a scientific credibility on every job he approaches. After tackling medical education and KOL communications early in his career, he evolved to broader product marketing and go to market strategy, and now he holds a very broad space in client services/consulting/communications arena at Triple Threat.

His diversity of skills and 25 years of broad healthcare experience is what separate him from the pack.

He is as adept at refining a creative campaign as he is designing an ad board or writing a brand plan from the bottom up. According to colleagues, he is an extremely strategic agency partner and assumes that role seriously. He continually is giving voice to the customer to keep them at the heart of shaping strategy, positioning, messaging, and campaigns.

Colleagues compare Mr. Lopos’ musical talents to his marketing expertise, noting he understands that to have a voice in pharma and healthcare is not all that different from the songs he sings. Messages should inspire, be emotional, be memorable, and that is what he delivers, every time he delivers a campaign.

Members of his band say his passion for music and their group is parallel to his role at Triple Threat. Band mates say he challenges them to be better musicians. (PV)

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