Do you want to get into the Client Services side of MedComms? If so, this article is for you. We asked several members of our growing Client Services team to share their career tips. You’ll discover how they got into MedComms, how they’ve developed and why having a learning and growth mindset can be more important than previous experience.
Bedrock is a multi-award-winning healthcare communications agency. We partner with healthcare professionals, patients, pharmaceutical and biotech clients across the globe to design and deliver compelling medical education programmes. Our Client Services team builds great relationships, making it a hugely varied and rewarding career option.
We spoke to Emily Wigginton – Head of Client Services, Laura Redman – Senior Account Manager and Rupinder (Rupz) Sohal – Account Director.
What got you interested in MedComms?
Laura Redman has a degree in Biological Sciences and joined Bedrock in 2016. Her first MedComms role was in the medical communications team at Quintiles, now part of IQVIA. “I hadn’t heard of MedComms as a career path but I felt I could put my science degree to use. It’s a really big sector but many people haven’t heard of it. I’ve had some amazing experiences, having had the opportunity to work across a broad range of projects in a variety of therapy areas.”
Rupz joined Bedrock in 2021 after 10 years working in marketing roles for leading FMCG brands in healthcare. But what made her move from marketing to MedComms? As Rupz explains, “I wanted to put my energies into learning new skills and working across different therapy areas. I wanted to see how they work, how do healthcare professionals [HCPs] work, how they help patients. What are the unmet needs and the outcomes. That’s why I thought MedComms would be such a good place to be.”
Like Rupz, Emily had enjoyed a related career, in her case in the field of healthcare advertising and marketing. She had previously worked with Bedrock’s former MD, Marie Little in an earlier role, who suggested a move into the MedComms world with Bedrock. “It’s a different kind of creativity, and perhaps focused a little more on problem-solving. It satisfies my desire to do good as I’m very much a people person and relationship builder.”
Tell us more about the roles you do at Bedrock?
As Head of the Client Services team, Emily sees her relationship skills and passion for her work come into play. “It’s really based around building great client relationships and giving them the best experience – and everything else will follow. A lot of process is involved and juggling too. We have to be really agile.” And, while the pandemic turned client meetings into virtual calls, Emily and the team are now very much back with clients, which is another important part of her role. “You just cannot beat a face-to-face meeting. You have longer, more valuable conversations and gain better insights. It’s about having those all-important richer conversations, which is what good client service is.”
Laura is a Senior Account Manager and explains what goes into her role. “It’s my responsibility to look after our clients, to deliver the projects, to make sure that we’re working to time and budget. There’s a lot of liaising with our internal teams to make sure that we’re delivering against our brief, that we’re stretching ourselves where we can, coming up with new ideas for client needs. It’s very rewarding to deliver a big project to a client and get great feedback.”
Rupz was promoted to Account Director in the Summer of 2022, after joining in late 2021. As she explains, it’s a broad role and probably has more variety than a bigger agency. “Everyone can be involved in each other’s projects and are very supportive. No one is precious, we work together, and the team jumps in to help whenever we need it. There’s close involvement with the person leading the strategy or the medical writers, and that’s helped me learn an incredible amount since I’ve joined.”
What attracted you to join Bedrock?
Rupz wasn’t looking to move but a friend working at Bedrock sent out a message on LinkedIn, which caught her eye. She sent her CV and initially wondered if her background was too ‘FMCG marketing’ for MedComms. In fact, it was Bedrock’s willingness to give her the time to transition that really appealed. Rupz picks up the story. “I loved the Bedrock vibe from my first call. MedComms is different to my earlier work but they gave me all the insight, explained the differences and I was attracted to the purpose and drive in the business. Everyone let me soak up their expertise in their therapy areas but most of all, they’ve just allowed me to be who I am and given me the time to learn. And, asking questions is fine too, as no question is ever stupid. They could see I could bring skills, which could change a few elements or add a little bit of something different.”
Emily was inspired by Bedrock’s mix of being well established but also highly ambitious for growth. “I could see the experience in the business. There was clearly a dynamic phase planned and that was really inspiring because I could see how to make my mark. Emily also identifies with the Bedrock values as she explains. “Everyone has a voice at Bedrock, and I think that’s tied in with our growth. Our values and respect for each other means that everyone plays a part in growing the business.”
Looking back, Laura explains how the variety in Bedrock’s work influenced her to join. “The thing that really attracted me to Bedrock was just the variety of work and projects that we get involved with. It was clear that we work across a variety of different clients for a variety of therapy areas. So it was that sort of variation in the day-to-day that I wanted. And that’s what Bedrock has delivered.”
What do you find exciting about MedComms and client services right now?
Rupz sees change coming in the way that information is shared and audiences are reached. Communication is going to happen through many new formats as she explains. “Our current models of delivering content to, and interacting with HCPs work well, but need to evolve and this creates exciting opportunities. For example, the metaverse is an area we are exploring, which will allow us to meet the information needs of a new generation of HCPs and patients in a rapidly evolving space.”
Emily also sees an opportunity to shape what’s to come in the way that MedComms impacts patients and HCPs. “I think we are now informing the patient journey a lot earlier on and that’s by asking the right questions and being curious. Involving the right stakeholders at the right time. Data visualisation is a hot topic at the moment and we are working on some great projects looking at communicating data in visually impactful and engaging ways, turning science into a story.”
What’s your favourite Bedrock project, so far?
Laura talks through a project she’s very proud of and one that saw her make her first appearance in a film. “We produced ‘This is Axiom’ to explain complexities of managing healthcare and challenge existing perceptions. It was about a patient and all the support she needed from HCPs and the importance that all of the different stakeholders have in terms of treating conditions. It was a joy to be involved with and such a fantastic insight into the film industry and, better still has won 10 awards across the healthcare and film industry. It will be one I talk about until I am old and grey, I am sure!”
Emily is enjoying a current project, working with a client on the launch of a new product in Parkinson’s disease. “We used Bedrock’s strategic planning tool, ARISE, to map out what that journey was going to look like, which all of the team brought into early on, and now we’re executing the plan and that’s going to be a rollout across Europe for this important new product. The difference in the patient after they’ve taken it is remarkable. You watch it and think, ‘This is why I do what I do. This is absolutely why.’ The joy comes from being a part of a team that is making impactful materials for HCPs and patients that truly educate and positively impact on people’s lives. You can look back on these projects and think ‘that’s a great thing we have achieved’.”
Rupz gives the example of consensus programmes, something of a speciality for Bedrock. “We’re working on a reproductive health series of consensus programmes including one covering contraception. We’ve been in two congresses and we’re publishing a manuscript and a journal for that. And we’ve just launched a menopause programme too. I think these consensus programmes are incredibly valuable. And it’s made for some great relationships with our steering committee, the HCPs who’ve been so involved. And so, for the patients it’s been lovely to work on, and obviously the learning behind that has been incredible.”
How do you see Bedrock supporting your career development?
Rupz feels that she has been developing every day since joining, partly down to the learning involved in coming into MedComms from the marketing sector. “It feels like every week I gain a new skill. Listening, acknowledging and problem-solving each day gives me a new experience in uncovering a solution that works for my project and client. I’ve never been an Account Director before so those first eight months of me doing everything has been so valuable for me. Now I’m ready for where the role will take me, how I’ll lead the projects and develop the accounts. Bedrock is receptive and supportive when it comes to development, but I’ve always believed you need to lead and be the champion of your own development.”
Since joining Bedrock, Laura has been promoted to Senior Account Manager and found working through a competency framework helpful in identifying her strengths and the areas that needed development. “That really helped me step up. We also have something called Commitment to Excellence that centres around the Bedrock values and it’s almost like a framework to help you plan out the areas that you’re going to work on. Looking back over my time at Bedrock there’s been plenty of projects have helped me develop too.”
As Head of Client Services, Emily is also involved in the development of her team and is looking forward to supporting them further in 2023 as the team grows. “At Bedrock your training and development lies in your hands in terms of identifying what you want to do. I’ll be spending more time coaching the team in things like the conversations they’ll be having with clients and supporting them with the follow-through to make our growth happen.”
What advice would you give someone wanting to get into MedComms?
Emily shares her advice about how to approach a MedComms business and feels research beforehand can be really helpful. “Think about what department you want to work in, that could be Client Services, Medical Writing, Editing or Strategy. You can find out a lot by looking at websites, and the Bedrock site is full of stories about our different people and the work that we do. Think about what’s involved in the role. For example, client services is about building relationships and holding conversations with clients, is that something you’d want to do? And think about your values too. Do your values align to the values of the companies that you’re looking at? Because that will tell you a lot about the culture and the kind of people that company employs. MedComms works across a lot of therapy areas so I would advise learning about these too, find out about the type of projects and the clients an agency has worked with.”
Rupz believes that her own move into MedComms shows that there are transferable skills and encourages others to explore the sector. “A big part of MedComms is about being able to connect with so many different people. You probably have a lot of transferrable skills that you can bring and these can be super valuable. It’s what I’ve brought from outside that has helped me grow within Bedrock. It’s about showing that learning mindset, having that ability to connect with people no matter what they are and who they are. And, of course, do some research too. What are the outcomes from a MedComms project? So, look at manuscripts, consensus programmes, publications, other types of publications, medical infographics – find out the differences between MedComms and other media brand agencies that you might have come across.”
Laura suggests thinking about the size of agency you’d feel comfortable working in. “There’s a huge variety in this industry. There’s the big corporate companies that have lots of employees. There are smaller agencies like Bedrock. It’s whether or not you want to have the opportunity to shine in a smaller place, versus potentially getting lost amongst the hundreds of people in the big corporates.”
Want to find out more about a career in Client Services?
We hope you’ve been inspired by the tips and career stories from our Client Services team. MedComms is a great career option if you are passionate about building relationships, communicating science and helping more patients live better lives.
If this sounds like you, please tell us a little about yourself and send your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org