Q: Where do you fit in at Medicalwriters.com?
I have a two-hatted role. We have three integrated departments: Creative Services, Scientific Services, and Client Services.
Creative Services makes beautiful illustrations and animations to visualize complex scientific information. Scientific Services consists of PhD-trained medical writers who focus on content development. Client Services is responsible for client communications, strategic planning, commercial activities, and project management. I work across Client Services and Scientific Services.
Q: What’s your background?
My background is in clinical research in cardiac surgery and anesthesia. When I worked in a lab, I was always thinking about the real-world applications of what I was doing. How do these findings get out into the world and affect people?
I explored commercial training as part of my master’s program and found my way to Zurich to work for Baxter, a multi-national biomedical company. My interests developed around the intersection of medical knowledge, strategic planning, and medical communications.
During my time at Baxter, I worked on a project with Medicalwriters.com. This was the first time I had encountered a medical communications agency, and I greatly admired their work. They created real world solutions with agile thinking and a fresh perspective. When my temporary contract with Baxter expired, I reached out, and Medicalwriters.com found a role for me.
What Medicalwriters.com does aligns well with what I had been thinking about since university. How does scientific and medical research get to the people who need it the most—the decision-makers, the healthcare professionals, the people on the ground, the patients? Medical communications agencies like Medicalwriters.com help transfer that information into the marketplace. I love being part of that.
Q: How is Medicalwriters.com different from other places you’ve worked?
It’s very much the ethos that you make your own destiny here, and you take that out-of-the-box thinking into projects with you. We are encouraged and empowered to come up with exciting solutions, no matter who we are on the project team.
In other words, we are not constrained by job or project descriptions. We’re not boxed in by our roles; we create our own roles every day.
Q: What’s new at Medicalwriters.com?
It’s such a fast-paced environment, there’s something new every week, whether it’s a project, a challenge, or a client coming on board.
In addition to the day-to-day, we are constantly thinking about the big picture. The world is going digital, and we are a leading agency in figuring out what that means for our industry. We help our clients go digital and stay compliant. In science and medicine, compliance is everything.
We’re doing more digital communications and education—social media campaigns, interactive meetings, digital platforms for disseminating information, and so on. One of our recent initiatives is the creation of animations to show how cutting edge drugs work. We are also using animations to illustrate data in scientific journals.
Q: Are words going away then?
No, no, words aren’t going away. We still need the manuscripts and reports to present analyzed data. It’s not that visuals are replacing words, but that visuals are enhancing words—making increasingly complex concepts more digestible and easier to understand; making something new out of something traditional.
Q: Do you travel in your role?
That depends on the needs of the client and project. To some degree, we all travel to local clients and international events.
We are fortunate to be close to the headquarters of many major pharmaceutical companies in both Zurich and New York. To build a personal rapport, we visit these clients often.
Personally, I enjoy the travel. I get a charge when I’m on site with the clients, working together in the same room to achieve the same goal.
Q: What’s a typical career path in your role?
I’d turn that around and say, “Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?” The beauty of Medicalwriters.com is that what you want to do goes a long way toward determining your role.
We are a company of about 30 people with two offices, one in Zurich and one in New York. If you’re energetic and show you’re motivated, there’s room to grow. Because our structure is fairly flat, we think of growth as professional development and skillset building rather than climbing the ladder.
Everyone wants to see everyone grow at Medicalwriters.com. Truly. That just makes us all better. It’s not like typical large corporations where your path is predetermined from day one. Our leadership at Medicalwriters.com is always asking: “Does the work satisfy you? How can we help you grow into your next position?”
Q: Do you participate in recruiting?
Yes. In fact, almost everyone in the company, no matter what their role, is at one time or another involved in the process.
Q: What’s that like?
We invite the candidate for a team lunch consisting of four to five people from different departments, usually at one of our favorite Italian restaurants. We chat with the applicant to get a sense of who they are and whether they’re a cultural fit. That’s critical.
I don’t mean just smart. They’re going to be smart or they wouldn’t have been invited to lunch. It takes a certain kind of person to do well in the agency world, which is very intense and fast-paced. Are they team players? Are they even-handed, down to earth, comfortable with who they are? Are they rigorous and detail oriented, yet can still think on their feet and step back to see the big picture? How do they handle disagreement and feedback? Everyone gets feedback here, including leadership. That’s how we grow as individuals and as an agency. Are they light-hearted and fun to be around? In crunch time, will they add to the stress or reduce it? These are the characteristics we look for in our colleagues.
Q: Is it all work and no play?
We do fun things all the time. I first saw this from the outside as a client.
For example, in Europe, Halloween is not really a celebration as it is in the U.S. But at Medicalwriters.com we have a strong American influence, so we do celebrate, even in the Zurich office. We deck the entire place in spider webs and fake blood, and we all come to work in costume. We still talk to our clients, of course. It shows who we are. Underneath the costumes, we still get the work done.
We also barbecue at the local park, and go out to restaurants and pubs fairly regularly. We play board games. There’s a weekly yoga group, a weekly running group.
Many of us are friends outside of work. We go on hikes and travel together. Recently, a group of us went picking wild garlic in the forest. We are all good, smart people who are passionate about a lot of different things and enjoy spending time together.
Q: What is your elevator speech for someone who wants to sign on with Medicalwriters.com?
At Medicalwriters.com, we go about our jobs with hunger, quiet confidence, intelligence, and a sense of humility.
We are an evolving company, and we’ve earned the respect of big players who have entrusted us with high-profile projects. These projects are coming to us because of the good work we’ve done along the way.
Good work breeds more good work.