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Winning the Game One Pitch at a Time
Title: VP, Account Director
Education: MBA, Kellogg School of Management
Family: Wife, Amy, for her continual support, as Winston Churchill said: “My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me.”
Hobbies: Coaching son’s baseball and basketball teams; fishing; reading historical biographies
Bucket List: Cruising the rivers of Europe with his wife; taking two boys to Cairns, Australia, to fish for black marlin
Awards/Honors: MM&M Product Team of the Year Finalist; Brand of the Year Finalist team member three times; invited to become an equity shareholder at Abelson Taylor, 2014; Head of Account Training, 2012-2015
Associations: Kellogg Executive MBA Global Network; Kellogg Alumni Club Chicago; Digital Advertising Alliance; Trusted Coaches Member
Launching four brands, each with revenue over $1 billion annually over the past 10 years, and nurturing them through their growth stages has earned Mark Finn the title of “consummate operator” in the healthcare business.
According to colleagues, Mr. Finn is equal parts strategic guru and client whisperer in an industry where the path to success is rarely straight and always littered with obstacles. One of Mr. Finn’s astronomical successes was with the brand Enbrel, but there have been other successes along the way that also mark his ability as a true marketing leader.
For example, AbelsonTaylor charged him with revamping the agency’s account training curriculum. The training was necessary, but the agency had many irons in the fire, as well as some restructuring, and nobody really wanted to tackle the challenge. Amid the frenzied environment of a busy, evolving agency, Mr. Finn quietly phased out the bloat in the training schedule and replaced it with a curated handful of short, punchy presentations with measurable impact and broadly appealing messages. Mr. Finn overhauled the ironclad proclamations of what an account person should be. Those within the organization began attending sessions regularly and peer reviews picked up. Mr. Finn was able to give the team momentum after years of inertia by using an effective “small-ball” model.
Colleagues say this is just one example on a smaller scale of Mr. Finn’s brand of leadership.
Mr. Finn is also known as the master pitch-meister. He and a colleague have an undefeated record in terms of winning every pitch they make. His detailed pitch outlines and strategic gambles are legendary. He begins the pitch process with a clear strategy map that gets the agency to creative development faster. He cuts through the clutter and focuses the team on what’s really important, creating a story arc that never fails to inspire. This strategy leads to creative solutions that are unexpected.
While many people hem and haw at the thought of new ideas, Mr. Finn is completely fearless, always willing to stand behind new tactical or strategic ideas. To that end, he has a keen eye for innovation, especially when it comes to taking advantage of technology. His goal is clear: make every contact point an opportunity to improve customer/brand relationships. And, he’s excellent at being able to frame problems that need innovative solutions.
Mr. Finn has proven many times that he can expertly balance the highest level of strategic thinking with the everyday realities of the marketplace. He understands that a brilliant strategy is doomed to failure when created in a vacuum and that sometimes the same old-same old will most effectively reach the objective. His ability to perform these types of tradeoff analyses, build consensus, and drive results — all while keeping everyone on an even keel — motivates his teams to give their all when working on a project.
Mr. Finn seems to bring a perfect balance of both EQ and IQ to his team members and his clients. Valued for his strategic insight as well as for his team-building and management skills, he always brings enthusiasm to a process and leads by example.
His energy is boundless, which helps to get everyone pulling in the proper direction. Mr. Finn is an excellent example of how to bring both heart and mind to the pharma advertising world. Mr. Finn’s team is among the largest at the advertising agency, and is known for its positive attitude, productivity, and effectiveness.
One final testament to Mr. Finn’s value to AbelsonTaylor and healthcare advertising as a whole is the fact that he was asked to become a shareholder at the company. (PV)
Marketer as Consensus Builder
Title: VP, Product Promotion & Communication
Company: Ironwood Pharmaceuticals
Education: BFA, Advertising Art, Kutztown University
Family: Golfing partner husband, Paul, and son, Drew, who keeps her, at least mentally, young and current
Hobbies: Golfing, home design, hiking
Bucket List: Hike the Appalachian Trail
Awards/Honors: DTC Hall of Fame; Effie Award; Top 25 DTC Marketers; DTC Hall of pHame; AstraZeneca President’s Award, Ironwood Innovation Awards
Tweet at: @sdebacco1
Sharon DeBacco is a marketing leader who develops creative campaigns that motivate people to think and behave differently. As VP of product promotion and communications at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, she was instrumental in conceiving the consumer marketing strategy and bringing to life the company’s first drug Linzess, which was approved for irritable bowel syndrome.
Colleagues say Ms. DeBacco has an amazing gift to observe, understand, and unearth key insights that drive patient and physician behaviors. These insights are core in her development process as she shapes, creates, and refines brand messages and advertisements.
She credits this to her right-brain and left-brain approach to creative problem solving.
“My sensory, conceptual, and creative brain has served me well in helping to bridge the gap between pharmaceutical product profiles and the complex and emotional relationships people have with their health conditions and treatment options,” she says. “While old art directors die hard, I am proud to admit that I am also somewhat of a data geek, and I get equally energized by data. It is the underpinning of right-brain decisions.”
At the same time, Ms. DeBacco connects on a human level, which is an important part of the job.
“In work as in life, what you create, what you learn, what you remember is all about the people you engage with,” she says. “I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t fascinated or inspired me in some meaningful way. It is what makes work and life endlessly enjoyable every day.”
Ms. DeBacco is driven to combine data sets that have traditionally been siloed, to not only create much richer profiles of key customers, but also enable precise, efficient targeting, whether on a household or individual level, or linking that individual with his or her healthcare provider.
“Today, we use a data-enabled approach to target media to patient populations,” she says. “The enormous new data-rich media marketplace that has been spawned has enabled us to precisely target with great efficiency.”
Colleagues say Ms. DeBacco is a brilliant, creative marketer and consistent consensus builder. She makes it a priority to listen to others and puts herself in their place to understand their perspectives on an empathetic level. By taking a respectful, informed, collaborative, and intuitive approach to her work, Ms. DeBacco enriches the knowledge of internal stakeholders, who benefit from learning and understanding her perspective and her craft, while modeling this behavior to others in the company who she manages and mentors.
Ms. DeBacco says the best leaders deliver a clear articulation of success, inspire and expect greatness, foster trust, and believe in the individual strengths within the team. They are also quick to recognize and ensure that those who do deliver greatness are recognized. They celebrate not only success, but also measured, responsible risk taking, regardless if it results in success or failure.
She says her professional goals don’t include specific accomplishments or roles, but quite simply to continue to have the rare luxury of collaborating with brilliant and colorful colleagues each day, and do magical things together.
“I have had the good fortune my entire career to work with richly diverse and deeply talented people who make me stretch and learn something each day — debating the best pathways among us, taking risks together, holding our breath at times, and, quite often, winning,” she says. “Work doesn’t get any better than that.” (PV)
The Velvet Hammer
Title: Senior VP, Corporate Marketing
Company: Mission Pharmacal Company
Education: BS, Marketing, Florida Atlantic University; MBA, Fordham University
Family: Husband, Dennis; twin daughters, Denalie and Amelia, 6; parents, Dorothy and Bob; brother, Ravi
Hobbies: Traveling, arts and crafts activities with her daughters, shopping
Bucket List: Visit Israel; tour more of India
Awards/Honors: Gold Award — leadership, dedication and outstanding contribution to a first class marketing and branding strategy for Vivelle-Dot, Noven Pharmaceuticals; Silver Award — dedication and outstanding contribution to the successful launch of Vivelle-Dot, Noven Pharmaceuticals; Circle of Champions Fundraiser, March of Dimes, March for Babies San Antonio market 2012 – 2017
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, March of Dimes, board member, San Antonio market; SA Cancer Council
A master at moving audiences from unawareness to awareness to interest, conviction, and ultimately sale, Natalie Sirjuesingh is that rare breed: a truly exceptional marketer.
Ms. Sirjuesingh joined Mission Pharmacal Company in 2010 after successful stops at Novartis, Pfizer, and other pharma companies.
She came to Mission with proven experience of doing things a certain way, yet she had the foresight to understand that Mission, as a unique, privately held organization, does not always conform to traditional approaches.
She patiently championed gradual changes, taking the organization from a small yet diverse group of marketers — each member doing his or her own thing within their respective silos — to a more integrated marketing department. By bringing marketing under a common umbrella, she has affected greater cohesion and effectiveness.
She skillfully manages the many diverse and demanding audiences both inside and outside the organization in a gracious, low-key, yet results-driven way. She has an uncanny ability to crystallize the task at hand. Additionally, she employs a leadership style that others simply want to follow.
“My current role calls for innovative ways to bring more awareness, connectivity, and understanding of Mission Pharmacal and the Mission family of companies, internally among colleagues and externally to various healthcare, patient, and customer audiences,” she says.
She has her finger on the pulse of marketing innovation, so it’s not surprising that Ms. Sirjuesingh recognizes digital, including social media venues as well as overall advances in technology now available to the industry, as a huge influence in marketing.
There have been many career highlights for Ms. Sirjuesingh, who has worked on numerous product launches in different therapeutic categories. She describes these products as her “babies” and is proud of the successful metrics and marketing campaigns achieved.
Clients say Ms. Sirjuesingh is always passionate about their mission, communicates clearly, especially during challenges, recognizes opportunities, and balances the interests of all stakeholders.
One example is Ms. Sirjuesingh’s role in helping March of Dimes manage its partnership with Mission Pharmacal. She understands the alignment between Mission’s philosophy and the March of Dimes’ mission goals and how well they mesh together.
As the mother of twin daughters who were premature, Ms. Sirjuesingh shares a passion for the March of Dimes’ cause, yet is able to take a step back from her personal experience and do an excellent job of ensuring that Mission’s support of the March of Dimes makes good business sense.
For Ms. Sirjuesingh, success flows from input, feedback, gut instinct, evaluation, and results. Innovation, she says springs from receptivity, openness, and a willingness to try something new or different. She tackles problems by listening, empathizing, and keeping open communication going to stay focused and on course.
Colleagues say she provides direction and high-level oversight, while giving people the autonomy to develop different approaches.
Ms. Sirjuesingh says she would like to be remembered for her ability to “get it” in terms of mastering pharma marketing: being able to quickly put the puzzle pieces together, formulate and execute a strategic plan that delivers results, and ultimately helping patients to improve their lives.
She believes in mentoring and is a lead supporter for Mission’s Leadership Development Program for sales representatives interested in pursuing leadership opportunities in sales and marketing. As a female executive among the senior leadership team at Mission, it is important to Ms. Sirjuesingh to give back, especially to her female colleagues. She is passionate about the marketing process — the strategy, creative and execution — and welcomes an opportunity to share and educate. (PV)