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Q&A: Avril Lee

PME interviews Zeno Group's Head of Healthcare, Europe and CIPR Diversity and Inclusion Network's Chair

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

During the winter lockdown, less and less, but ensuring my daughter is up for school focuses the mind. I do like the lighter mornings...

What’s the best thing about working in healthcare comms?

The mix of humanity and science. Meeting patients affected by life-changing illnesses who have been informed and supported by what we do – actually, that’s what really gets me out of bed in the morning!

What’s the worst thing about working in healthcare comms?

It’s vital that our industry values facts and balance but sometimes it’s frustrating that we can’t have more of a conversation with patients about their health.

What’s your favourite bar or eatery?

Being Irish Chinese, I’m missing the great Cantonese cooking at the Lido, in London’s Chinatown, and any pub during the lockdown!

Which buzzwords/office jargon get on your nerves?

‘Above my pay grade’!

Which book/film would you recommend above all others and why?

The film ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ by Powel and Pressburger, creative geniuses of 20th Century cinema. It features an iconic escalator to heaven, a French dandy as an angel, a technicolour 40s England and a black and white afterlife. Perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon!

Which person, living or dead, do you admire the most and why?

Quentin Crisp: fearless, witty and determined to be his own person. He ignored the norms of his day and lived openly as a gay man at a time when this was illegal.

Who is your healthcare comms hero/heroine?

Dr Hilary Jones, the voice of COVID-19 sanity. Scientifically correct, straight-talking, pitched just right for audience and all over the ITV morning schedule.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Getting our newly launched product into a dictionary is a memorable one, but what really sticks out are the huge changes to attitudes, outcomes and lives in HIV and cancer. From my earliest days in comms, I’ve worked in these areas and to have seen the conversation become open, unstigmatised and hopeful around these conditions has been incredible.

What’s your golden rule/piece of advice for someone starting a career in healthcare comms?

Be culturally curious, genuinely interested in people and their health, know the media and always get the detail right.

Avril Lee is Head of Healthcare, Europe, Zeno Group and Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Network, CIPR

19th March 2021

From: PME

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