Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Innovation is ubiquitous in the R&D division of most pharma companies. But it’s much more difficult to find on the commercial side, where regulations often stymie creativity.
As director of marketing excellence at GSK, Jennifer Gould knows these challenges all too well. That’s why, in 2020, she decided to create the first ever Customer Experience (CX) Summit to coalesce pharma leaders in a think-tank-style format to discuss new, better ways of providing personalized experiences to patients.
“She understands that while change is challenging, industry professionals in pharma need to act,” a nominator says.
Initially born out of Gould’s fear that marketing in pharma may not be keeping pace with other industries, the Summit helped “galvanize diverse stakeholders who were independently trying to tackle this multi-pronged challenge,” and initiated discussions on strained content creation resources, and solutions for providing product and disease education to patients in 24/7 digital environments, a nominator says.
Since that kernel of an idea popped into Gould’s head in 2020, she has already held two CX Summits and published two white papers on ways to better tailor marketing efforts to individual patients.
“She’s motivated by ‘what if’ and can quickly visualize and connect dots to see how ideas can go from ideation to reality, and all the steps in between,” one of her nominators says. “For many people, forging new areas may seem like a daunting task, but for [Gould], it seems exciting, and this excitement excites others who partner with her to bring these ideas to fruition.”
At GSK, Gould’s creative spirit knows few bounds and is spreading throughout the departments she oversees, her colleagues say. And her accomplishments are numerous. During her 10 years at the company, Gould has developed a new onboarding program for GSK marketers, experimented with using AI to accelerate the review process for marketing materials and has led the company to several patient engagement awards, among other achievements.
Above all else, though, Gould’s colleagues say they value her integrity, inclusive leadership style, positive nature and ability to empower people to be the “best version of themselves.”
“She has conviction and creates opportunities out of difficult situations because of her passion,” one nominator says.
Here, Gould discusses how she’s developed those key leadership qualities, her mission to help patients and setting expectations.
“Over the last two years, I have made a concerted effort to prioritize more and focus only on the top key initiatives that create the greatest amount of value and impact for my company and the patients we serve each day.”
Director, marketing excellence, GSK
PharmaVoice: What initially drew you to the life sciences industry?
Jennifer Gould: I have always been interested in the health industry, but I’ll never forget one particular day when my interest turned into a passion for helping patients. I was working for a large CRO and analyzing their website reports, when I took a few minutes to read some of the ‘Contact Us’ form submissions.
This simple bit of curiosity turned into reading countless stories of patients who were suffering terrible illnesses and looking for clinical trials to help save their lives. That afternoon changed me in how I think about my job and the work I do each day.
What new leadership skill did you hone over the past two years that you will continue to bring forward?
Over the last two years, I have made a concerted effort to prioritize more and focus only on the top key initiatives that create the greatest amount of value and impact for my company. This approach has garnered better business results, fostered stronger working relationships and has increased my overall enjoyment of the work I do each day.
What is your key piece of leadership advice?
I think it’s twofold. A lot about life is about expectations. Doing initiatives that are really important and impactful for a company will most likely be hard. Expect it. Be prepared for it. Don’t let it discourage you. In the same spirit, I have also found, assuming the project has been set up correctly, it’s usually when things seem like they may not come to fruition, and challenges are popping up left and right, is when you know you and your team are right around the corner from achieving something amazing. It’s always the hardest right before the vision becomes a reality, or at least in my personal experience I have found that to be true. Persevere!
How are you paying your success forward?
For a number of years, I fostered children and did co-parenting to help families who were in need. While fostering, I was offered the opportunity to adopt a child, who is now my beautiful daughter today. I am motivated every day to make our home one of security, love and laughter, while instilling the proper values and faith to help her successfully navigate and excel in life.