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Q&A: Sarah Mikhailov

PME interviews Havas Life Medicom's Managing Partner

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Either my daughter’s sparkly unicorn hurtling towards my head or the dulcet tones (AKA screams) of my 16-month-old son!

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

The people – I love the energy, passion and ideas they bring to the table each day – working with such a diverse group of individuals means solutions can come from anywhere. A creative, a medic and a strategist walk into the room....no punch line, but certainly never a dull moment!

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

Diluted ideas – our environment is complex and highly regulated, but this should not restrict our creativity, it should unleash it. Validating our thinking is important but not to the detriment of the idea itself. It is our responsibility to ensure people are comfortable taking that leap of faith to realise a great idea and be able to execute something to be proud of.

What’s your favourite bar or eatery?

No 97 is a fantastic gin bar with great food – all on my doorstep in Surbiton.

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

I will refer to the 90s genre of classic end of the world comradery, where we rely on the actions of the few to save the many – about sacrifice and unlikely heroes finding their own individual strengths to achieve the impossible. I refer of course to Armageddon. Bruce Willis saves the world by drilling on an asteroid hurtling towards Earth – what’s not to love?

Which buzzwords/office jargon get on your nerves?

All the ‘zings’ – contextualizing, synthesizing, crystalizing, modernizing, humanizing, re-analyzing....

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

I’m just going to go with my mum! Too many great people out there to ponder and the reality is my mum is my rock
and has made me who I am today.

She is a shining example of Northern honesty (which is a bit like Marmite), negotiation (getting people to agree with you) and hard work (you get nowt for free!).

Who is your healthcare comms hero/heroine?

My first real mentor and current boss who is a true inspiration to me. She has a tremendous ability to inspire and unify people. Not only is she always there when you need her she seems to have this magic ability to guide you into finding your own way – in business and in life!

What has been your career highlight to date?

Working on a gene replacement therapy. The science is amazing and what it can achieve is truly remarkable. It can offer new hope to patients and their families, literally saving lives.

Although my first Communiqué win in 2010 will also always be close to my heart – Award for Best Public Health Initiative with Test Your Health campaign in partnership with Innovex and NHS Doncaster.

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

The work can be so varied, so get experience across a range of activities. Then it’s about finding the right fit for you – not only in the work, but the people you work with.

Sarah Mikhailov is Managing Partner at Havas Life Medicom

8th December 2020

From: Marketing

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