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For Helping Hep C Patients Find a Cure
Title: Senior VP, Account Director
Education: BS, Marketing, University of Illinois — Champaign/Urbana
Family: His wife, Amy, he truly couldn’t do what he does without her; his parents, who gave him the advice and educational opportunity that have shaped his career
Hobbies: Kayaking, biking, reading and, until recently, coaching his daughter’s basketball team
Awards/Honors: 2012 Med Ad News Agency Brand Team of the Year — Incivek launch; PM360 Magazine 2018 ELITE Winner
Personal Brand: Think Smart. Think Fast.
Eric Densmore, senior VP, account director, at AbelsonTaylor, understands that great creative can only result from unique insights that drive concepts unfettered by the usual spin of a safe and effective position.
Eric is admired for his innate ability to match strategic insights and market opportunities with a creative idea — a skill that is rare in account managers.
His ultra-high standards have solidified his reputation among the agency’s creative talent as someone who strives for and produces excellent results for clients. Eric’s ability to work hand-in-hand with creatives in a way that produces great and effective work is just one of the ways he inspires his colleagues. He also tries to inspire those around him by emulating some of the inspirational traits he finds in others: eloquent story telling, a quest for design purity, a passion for bringing lifesaving drugs to market, and humility in times of need (aka pitch time in agency parlance).
“Inspiration is everywhere, look for it and emulate it, and good things are likely to happen,” he says.
His prodigious talents are often hidden upon first glance. But behind his thoughtful, subdued leadership style is a powerhouse intellect that delivers results while keeping clients and agency staffers happy.
Colleagues note Eric’s marketing prowess became evident during the launch of Incivek, a treatment for hepatitis C manufactured by Vertex. At the time, the hepatitis C market was stagnant, with no true advancements in almost 20 years. But, in 2011 that changed when both pharma giant Merck and biotech start-up Vertex were racing to the market with protease inhibitors — Victrelis and Incivek respectively. The two drugs were predicted to transform the way hep C was treated. Because both products were similar, the odds seemed stacked in Merck’s favor. Vertex hired AbelsonTaylor two years ahead of the expected approval date and gave the agency wide responsibility. The goals were to position the product, create the sales story, and create all promotional materials, as well as establish the commercial infrastructure and processes along the way.
Considered a true David and Goliath story, the AbelsonTaylor team, led by Eric, was able to come through for Vertex. Vertex beat Merck by grabbing 75% of the protease inhibitor share the first year out, and as a result Incivek set a commercial record breaking $1 billion in sales in just nine months. Eric’s unrelenting insistence on excellence and his disciplined leadership style helped the team overcome numerous obstacles while ensuring deliverable efficiency. He kept both the client and agency teams laser-focused, encouraged, and supported with the end result being a top-notch strategy and award-winning creative work. “My goal is to not solve a problem the same old way; I look at a problem until I see how it’s unique and then attack it,” Eric says.
Eric’s career trajectory — from a start in the traffic department — has been described as determined, patient, and insightful, and his talents have led him to be recognized today as one of the agency’s key leaders and earned him a seat on AbelsonTaylor’s executive committee.
This transformation to management, he says, has been one of his biggest challenges.
“Transitioning from doing the work to supervising and leading the teams doing the work has been, by far, my biggest challenge,” Eric says. “I had to learn that my job isn’t to train people to work like me; my job is to help them be the best they can be. Understanding that I needed to change the way I manage was a big adjustment.”
He seems to have made the adjustment just fine. Colleagues say one of Eric’s most important strengths as a strategist is his ability to guide others to share his strategic vision. He is generous in how he leads his teams to approach creating great ideas. He listens actively to his client partners and he engages and encourages everyone on the agency team to bring good insights and good ideas to the table. He shares his visionary thought process in a way that allows everyone else to follow along and join him on the journey. (PV)
For Being a Brand Steward
Title: Executive VP, Managing Director
Education: BA, Telecommunications, Minor Business, Pennsylvania State University
Family: Husband Nick, three wonderful kids, as well as her parents and five sisters, who have all provided unconditional love and support at every stage of her life
Hobbies: Golf, tennis, spending time at the beach or on a boat; going to soccer and baseball games
Awards/Honors: HBA Rising Star 2014
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Personal Brand: You only live once, live every day to the fullest.
Beth Barron epitomizes the term “brand champion.” As executive VP, managing director at CMI/Compas, she influences, integrates, and innovates in pursuit of brand excellence for the agency’s clients. And her success is visible; she is responsible for some of the agency’s largest accounts. She has built, led, and inspired one of the best media and strategy teams in the industry thanks to an innate ability to ask the right questions and wring insights out of data to generate business growth strategies for maximum brand strength.
She has a comprehensive understanding of the industry, each customer’s needs and objectives, and is not afraid to explore creative solutions to maximize the success of their brands, leading clients to embrace her as a trusted partner.
“I want to ensure my clients get the best customer service I can offer,” Beth says. “My drive is to constantly develop my customer service skills and take a results-driven approach to become an indispensable partner.”
Her contributions to CMI/Compas have been immeasurable, starting with her leadership of winning and the subsequent growth of what has become the company’s third-largest client.
Colleagues say Beth is as talented at executing and delivering on brand strategies as she is in providing a clear vision in the digital media healthcare industry. She is adept at uncovering client objectives to drive tangible results, and she has a unique ability to see what’s coming down the road in terms of innovative marketing strategies, whether in the form of new technologies or new approaches. Her perspectives have enabled the agency to significantly expand the range and value of services that it provides to current and potential customers.
Beth recognizes that only through collaboration and partnerships will she and her teams truly meet a client’s needs and expectations in developing and delivering timely, efficient and successful brand plans.
Success, she says, should be determined by whether something was learned or gained from the experience. “Success doesn’t always result in the outcome you set to achieve, but if you learned from the experience,” she adds.
Colleagues say Beth is the type of leader who makes people around her better just from working with her.
“Expectations you have for your team won’t matter much unless you also authentically care about the people you’re hoping to inspire,” she says. “I try to focus on what’s best for them, then show I care by the way I treat them and interact with them. When you listen to the people around you, you show them that they matter, and their ideas are worth hearing.”
When challenges arise, Beth says it’s important to communicate faith in the people around you, while helping them raise the bar as well.
“I challenge my teams to go beyond what’s easy and comfortable and encourage them to try new things and confront new obstacles they haven’t faced before,” she says.
Beth believes leadership is not about being the person in charge, but rather it means inspiring others to grow and achieve their own goals by setting an example and through positive motivation.
“Through motivation, a leader can direct the energy and potential of their team to achieve the necessary business objectives,” she says. She serves as a mentor to those who work for her and she is always looking for opportunities to support the growth of her team members.
Beth says there is a quote, in terms of advice, that she would give to her younger self and one that holds true for her today. As Bernard M. Baruch says: Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
Her goal now and in the future is to drive change and advance movement toward improvements that positively impact healthcare for all patients. Someday, she would like to be a chief operating officer or chief marketing officer of a healthcare-focused company. With her ability to maintain a work-life balance, manage multi-million-dollar accounts, and with a vision that the industry would benefit from a unified system to connect the vast amounts of data available to make better treatment decisions, reduce healthcare costs, and improve patient outcomes to help all patients live long and healthy lives, colleagues believe the sky is the limit for her aspirations. (PV)
For Connecting the Dots Between People, Brands, and Value
Title: Global, Head of Brand Value
Education: University of CA, Berkeley
Family: Her mother, who has an endless capacity for love and for learning
Hobbies: Travel, hot yoga
Awards/Honors: Health Influencer 50; MM&M Femme; PharmaVOICE 100, 2016; Shire CEO awards; and multiple DTC Marketing awards
Associations: 2018 Ad Council Board Member
Personal Brand: Work hard and be nice to people
What is the essence of a true brand leader? Passion for the business? Ability to energize and challenge a team? A champion for the people the brand serves? With more than 20 years of marketing experience, Shire’s Vic Noble is all these things and more. Recognized as a PharmaVOICE 100 in 2016, Vic is an inspirational leader, who provides a runway for ideas so her teams have the freedom to innovate and deliver. Colleagues admire her ability to bring outside-in thinking to inspire ideas and her willingness to take the “pharma-blinders” off to be truly disruptive.
Vic’s leadership skills, passion, and brand insights have been forged over a career spanning a diverse set of experiences.
After graduating from the University of California, Berkley, with a degree in political science and business, Vic got her start as an IPO analyst on Wall Street. She then moved into government relations lobbying on behalf of the financial industry. She then flexed her artistic side during her time as a production manager at a video, commercial, and documentary film company. Next up was the advertising world. She moved on to lead agency teams at FCB Direct, Stein Rogan + Partners, and Insight Interactive Group for more than a decade. She worked on high-profile brands, such as Citibank, The New York Times, Blockbuster, and a digital roster of Johnson & Johnson brands such as Remicade.com, Topamax.com, and Cancer.com.
After leaving her mark on the agency side, Vic joined AstraZeneca in 2004 to driving its cardiovascular and respiratory brands. There she launched cross-customer, multi-cultural marketing programs for Pulmicort Respules and Crestor. For Crestor, she evolved the brand and led the consumer launch of the innovative disease education campaign Us Against Athero, featuring the Artery Explorer, a state-of-the-art simulator that helped people visualize atherosclerosis. She also championed the salesforce by using direct-to-consumer techniques that allowed them to have meaningful conversations with healthcare providers, so physicians could have meaningful interactions with their patients.
In 2008, Vic transitioned to Shire, where she has been blazing trails for the last 10 years. She has a proven talent for infusing consumer sensibility across numerous brands. She conceived of and launched Shire Cares, the company’s first enterprisewide patient assistance program.
From 2008 to 2013, she re-energized the gastrointestinal business unit (GIBU) by developing and deploying a new culture, including a mission, vision, and belief system. She also led a new strategic methodology for the cross-functional customer brand positioning team, which resulted in the brand’s best-performing integrated communications strategy in the market.
In 2013 she joined the neuroscience business unit (NBU) as director, consumer marketing, for Vyvanse. There she developed brand strategies and engagement plans jumpstarting the ADHD adult opportunity and keeping the patient at the forefront of the brand.
For the past three years, Vic has been leading Shire’s entrance into the eye care space as head of marketing for the ophthalmics franchise. Her remit was threefold: make Shire synonymous with eye care, build an ophthalmic marketing muscle franchise, and launch Xiidra against a 14-year established category leader.
Vic orchestrated the Xiidra branded campaign and Eyelove, the first disease state awareness campaign for dry eye. Tapping celebrity spokesperson Jennifer Aniston, the campaign built an emotional connection between people, the brand, and the value the brand brings. The launch was an instant hit and turned Xiidra into a blockbuster.
Colleagues say Vic’s leadership has transformed the pharmaceutical marketing dynamic, setting a new standard for product launches. Xiidra has had one of the strongest launches since Viagra, capturing 25% of the commercial market in three months.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Vic was promoted to global head of brand value at Shire, with responsibility for overseeing and maximizing the value of Shire brands from strategy through to marketing activation.
She partners with the franchises to strengthen brand development for priority launches and competitive challenges for Shire. And she leads the corporate branding efforts, fueling Shire’s leadership in the rare disease space.
“One of the biggest challenges has been transforming mindsets to embrace brand building with healthcare providers where we need to make emotional connections” she says. “But challenges are what enable organizations to stretch and learn. We need to fuel more industrywide collaborations so we can help more people.” (PV)