Contributed by:

NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.

WHAT’S on your mind

Is mentoring a lost art?

For the past two years, January has been designated as National Mentoring Month (NMM). Led by the Harvard Mentoring Project and MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership, NMM also was supported by President George W. Bush, the U.S. Congress, state governors, and mayors across the country. During these 31 days, attention was focused on how mentoring benefits the child, adult, and society as a whole. It was also a time to thank those mentors who are “everyday heroes” and to encourage others to share the experience and become a mentor. Mentoring in the workplace is as important to facilitate career and personal development.

PharmaVOICE wanted to know: Who has played a role in your professional and personal development? And does your company have a mentoring program?

In appreciation
I do not believe that Excerpta Medica has a formal “mentoring” policy. However, I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by Jean Dolan, who was a VP at the company. Jean was with EM for more than 20 years and for most of those years I reported directly to her. She was (and I am sure still is) very profession al, had extremely high standards, and helped me to understand client needs, my weaknesses and my strengths, and helped me to develop those strengths and improve on my weaknesses (although I’m still working on the latter!). Jean was a guiding force in my career development and I am very grateful for her help throughout the years. I think when you have a mentor you never totally appreciate their value. It wasn’t until Jean left the company that I truly appre ciated her wisdom and counsel. I lost the person I could go to for help — I don’t think I ever really appreciated that when I had it!

I have been mentoring one of my direct reports; however, it is not as easy as it sounds.It’s easy to tell someone what they are doing right; it’s more difficult to correct them or guide them in other directions. I think everyone should have a mentor who helps him or her develop their skills and helps in his or her career path, and I think companies should have a formal mentoring program.

Chancey A. Wesner

Good to grow
I have been fortunate to have had several mentors during my career. Each one was my direct supervisor who was generous with his or her time, provided very specific constructive criticism and praise of my work, and helped me become an effective mentor and manager of others. Good mentors help you grow at an accelerated pace, give you the freedom to take on more responsibility, and provide the opportunity to master skills you didn’t even know you had.

My current company, HealthEd, has a mentoring initiative for our account management team where we pair up each account manager with a senior staff member. As mentors, we are responsible for helping the account manager prepare for client meetings, accompanying them when appropriate, reviewing/critiquing their effectiveness, introducing them to client contacts, recommending professional development opportunities, etc.

Celeste Cafiero, MA, CHES

The process of continual learning is never over

There probably is not a day that goes by when I don’t look back to the mentors I have had from three large pharmaceutical organizations before becoming president and CEO of Merz Pharmaceuticals U.S. I have been extremely fortunate to work for strong leaders who valued the people who contributed to the organization as much or more than the actual contributions provided to the organization. In addition to learning leadership skills from some of the best leaders in the industry, it is abundantly clear that the strength of those leaders allowed them to extend their knowledge to others without fear of giving of themselves. It is this willingness to share and train that brings the greatest satisfaction in my job as well as the realization that the process of continual learning is never over for anyone who dares to take on the role of leading an organization.

Terry J. Conrad

More art than science

I do not participate in any mentoring program at the moment, though, to my knowledge, such a program was recently introduced at the facility where I work.

Personally, I would consider such a program a very useful career development tool, which might make someone’s work more creative, productive, and self-fulfilling. The success factors would be its voluntary nature, people with dedication and experience worth learning, and their availability.

Because you requested the specifics of the personal experience, I am glad to say that I was privileged to work with several individuals during the last seven years from whom I was willing to learn very specific things, and who were willing to share their vision or explain the specific actions and the rationale behind them, based on their experience. The criteria I would apply to such a “mentor” (to the extent that I realize them) are: charismatic nature, relevant life and work experience, shared goals, the ability to “make a difference,” and consistency in personal standards (which might still be subjective or change over time, but should not turn into “double standards”).

I would certainly agree that mentoring is more of an art since there are no ready solutions for different people and the outcomes of someone’s development (or what is perceived as a development) might be different, depending on the specific working environment or life situation.

Igor Shuvalov, M.D., MBA

A guiding force

Although my company (Intellisphere LLC, publishers of MD net guide) does not have a mentoring program, one only needs to look at our CEO’s name to feel a sense of accomplishment almost immediately. Mike Hennessy has been in the healthcare publishing industry for more than two decades, and in only the short time I’ve been the editorial director for his company, I’ve learned more about this business than I could have ever imagined. Under Mike’s guidance, I’ve become a proud director of an enthusiastic editorial department, while learning the intricacies of sales-generated projects and other streams of revenue. I’ve grown to lead a team of dedicated artists, managers, writers, Web designers, and editors into the new contemporary design of our publication while keeping them challenged and focused. Plus, I have used input from all fronts to shape the future editorial voice, look, and feel of MD net guide . Mike has consistently supported my management, style, and knowledge of editorial production and flow and lets my decisions and suggestions steer the ship. Although he probably doesn’t know it, he’s been more of a mentor to me than anyone in my career. His entrepreneurial spirit has been a welcome sigh of relief from my sojourn through big business, and Intellisphere is the ultimate personification of Mike’s continued dedication to his people and his vision.

John Maillard

Satisfaction in making a difference

Yes, I feel very strongly about mentoring. I think it is very important to share experiences and help others along. By mentoring, you help in the educational process, which can be a person of any age, in any stage of his or her career.

I have been extremely fortunate to have had several mentors early in my career who left an indelible mark and helped shape the way I conduct business. Not only have I benefited from this, but also the organizations that I have belonged to have benefited from this experience.

As a result, I have mentored quite a few people either in formal programs or informally. There is a great deal of satisfaction to know that you have made a difference. If the mentoring is a fit, it can result in a lifelong friendship. Schering-Plough is formalizing its mentoring program.

Louise S. Kauffman


Changing behavior

I agree with Alan Holmer’s comments regarding the target audiences we need to reach. However, I think we need to change behavior across those stakeholders. And while reaching opinion leaders and policy makers is important, I say let’s keep our focus on the American people first and foremost. Why? While Congress is a small intimate group with vast influence, and relatively easy to reach, they are not our true customers, nor are they the people that we discover medicines for. Most do not deal personally with the burden of rising healthcare costs or lack of medical coverage. And, as the movie Dave pointed out — they work for us! More importantly, time and time again it’s been proven that changing public opinion happens at the grass-roots level.

So, let’s take a look at how PhRMA’s new Strategic Communications and Public Affairs division can handle this enormous challenge. It’s not necessarily about new or innovative ways of communicating. It’s not about channel marketing. It’s about an integrated message platform that speaks to all segments of our society. If PhRMA wants to be successful then it must get out into the community. It must think outside the Beltway. It must reach out, understand, and THEN address the needs of our diverse population, and keep the dialogue going.

There are several key topics that we as communicators can help PhRMA address: targeting, branding, messaging, and integrated communication.

Before the industry can make “the American people aware of the tremendous life-saving contributions pharmaceutical companies make,” it first needs to understand its audience. Who uses the greatest proportion of our healthcare dollars? What is their level of understanding (education)? What can they spend? Who needs help (socioeconomics)? What language do they speak? Can they read? Also, who is influencing their opinions? What role does Wall Street and the media play in determining what they think about the pharmaceutical industry?

Once we know whom we want to talk to, let’s develop a brand commitment that the country can embrace. If it works for the average American, all other stakeholders will embrace it.

How we communicate with our audiences is critical. We need to boil it down to key messages that are relevant and understandable. In the past, we have either bored or confused the public by talking about economic modeling of research and development investment versus marketing, rather than focusing on the issue that matters most to them — how the industry is going to ensure that every family can get the prescription medications it needs. Also, we need to remember that paying for healthcare is an emotional issue for many Americans. If we overlook the emotional side of the issue and try to address it with purely logical arguments, we will never succeed in swaying public opinion.

Finally, leading integrated communication companies should be invited to sit at the table with PhRMA to do what we do best — create strategy, explain/educate, drive action, and sustain that action. The pharmaceutical industry has a great story to tell. From indigent-care programs to discount drug cards to compliance programs that encourage patients to continue taking the medication they need, the industry is responsible for many good deeds that are improving the health of Americans. Working with marketing and communications experts will ensure that the story is heard.

John Racik




For years, the movies have been a mainstay for product placements. We all have seen obvious examples of popular consumer good icons on the big screen — Coca-Cola, BMW, and Budweiser — to name just a few. Recently, Schering-Plough’s over-the-counter allergy medication Clarinex was prominently displayed during a drugstore scene in an episode of The Gilmore Girls.

While regulatory issues obviously prevent marketers from using this type of innovative product placement for prescription products, PharmaVOICE wants to know what other types of nontraditional marketing vehicles are being used for brand-building initiatives? And, where was the most unusual place you saw a brand promotion?

Please e-mail your comments to feedback@pharmavoice.com.


Posted in:

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a Comment.