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The HCA Award for Healthcare Communiquétor

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Sarah Matthew


“I was initially unsure about joining Virgo to help build their medical education division, but it only took 5 minutes upon meeting Sarah to convince me. It was evident that Sarah was not just switched on and savvy but also a true industry leader.
Thanks to Sarah and her continued mentoring I was able to strengthen my ability to think strategically. I can’t think of anyone who could analyse a client’s needs and quickly identify and devise the right communication strategy. Indeed it was this innate skill together with the ability to think analytically that drove perhaps one of the highest pitch win rates that I have ever seen in my 18 years in the industry.
But for all of her undoubted business acumen it was her ability to communicate with the whole team regardless of seniority or position that I found so amazing. Her approachability and openness made everyone feel at ease even in the most challenging situation. Personally, she taught me a great deal on how to be a better manager and better leader.
Given the 20th anniversary of the Communique awards, I think it is right and fitting that someone who has done so much to shape and challenge the industry throughout this time should be recognised.”
Paul Archer, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Huntsworth Health and previous Head of Medical Education at Virgo

"Sarah is highly experienced, knowledgeable and a dedicated professional. With an agile mind, and the ability to see through the clutter, she is skilled at thinking through complex issues and finding practical and collaborative solutions.
A senior practitioner on top of her game Sarah is highly adept at building and navigating relationships at the most senior level, often working “under the radar”, gaining support and sponsorship for strategic interventions that drive tangible outcomes."
Jane Atkin, Senior Corporate Communications Consultant

“I’ve had the pleasure to knowing and working with Sarah for about 10 years – in her capacity as the Chair of the Healthcare Communications Association, as the co-founder of Virgo, and more recently as the President of Golin Healthcare. I believe she has been one of the most impactful leaders in healthcare communications over these years - elevating our standards of practice, innovating our ways of working and inspiring so many professionals in their careers. I particularly value her consistently sound judgement and candid counsel, but her good humour means she is also a pleasure to work with.”
Amie Baker, Head of Respiratory and INA Global Corporate Affairs, AstraZeneca

When I decided to join Virgo twelve years ago as an Account Director with a fairly standard career, Sarah was a massive reason behind my decision. As time went by, I watched her closely as she created compelling PR campaigns, guiding our teams to deliver results for clients that truly impacted their sales – while simultaneously building a world-class business and brand that offered something truly unique in a crowded marketplace.
Sarah always saw in me the potential I never knew I had, and championed me taking on the management and growth of the Consumer Health division of the business. I didn’t realise it at the time, but the three years I spent in this senior role before returning home to Australia, gave me the knowledge and foundation to set up my own successful PR consultancy.
Since then Sarah has become a mentor to me, sharing her insights generously. She is incredibly smart, ambitious and driven, a team player, but also a firm leader as well as being an industry leader who is not afraid to challenge the status quo.
But above all else, Sarah is a wonderful human being with a genuine warmth and care for the people around her. Sarah is someone you can’t help but gravitate towards because of her immense talent and positive energy.”
Lisa Burling, Managing Director, LBPR Pty Ltd, previous Head of Consumer Health at Virgo

“Sarah is an inspiring leader who, without fail, creates time for the people she leads. She is a powerful listener and an astute coach – she gives a sense she is personally invested in your future and wants you to win; that she is on your team. As a cheerleader, a reality-checker and a teacher I couldn’t ask for better.”
Caroline Gosling, Head, Internal Communications, GSK Consumer Health

“Having known and worked with Sarah for some 16 years I have always highly valued her counsel and guidance. She is a superb healthcare professional, with an outstanding strategic mind that enables her to offer support on a wide variety of healthcare topics. Her skills are many and varied ranging from leadership and coaching, communications, medical education, issues management, digital plus many more. She is also a very successful businesswoman, having jointly built-up Virgo and created a leading and multi-award winning company.
Sarah is very engaging, highly personable and a delight to work with - she is my first go-to person when I am seeking views and opinion.”
Susie Hackett, Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications at Mundipharma International

“Sarah is such an inspiration, she always knows what’s right for a business (agency or client) whilst never losing sight of what’s right for the people. Striking that balance is hard.  She is a brilliant strategist, always seeing the bigger picture and is a business head with a personal touch.
I now run my own healthcare agency in Australia and frequently ask myself ‘What would Sarah do?’ She remains my role model and mentor and she is my personal business compass – probably the strongest testimonial I could give.”
Louisa Hull, Director, emotivate Pty Limited, Sydney, previous member of Virgo and Shire Health London

“Sarah has been a fantastic mentor to me. I work in a very male dominated environment so it has been invaluable for me to speak to and learn from a successful female. Sarah offers objective advice and has taught me how to approach difficult situations and manage different dynamics. Above all, she has been a friendly, open and non-judgmental ear. I have a huge amount of respect for her and hope to become a respected figure like her in the future.”
Shelley Jackman, Group Account Director, McCann Torre Lazur Advertising

“Throughout her career, Sarah has played a key role in driving excellence in healthcare communications. As a founding member of the HCA, we were privileged to have her counsel and guidance over many years. She has created and led some of the world's most respected healthcare communications consultancies and been a fantastic mentor and role model for so many of us. Sarah has demonstrated great leadership, combined with genuine care and respect for others. She truly deserves recognition and is a very worthy winner of this award.”
Edel McCaffrey, Corporate and healthcare communications expert and member of HCA Executive Committee

"Sarah is a remarkable leader of business and people. She consistently shows tremendous vision, intellect, tenacity and humanity in her own business and in support of the industry. I've been lucky enough to work with her over the past 17 years at Shire Health, Virgo and when she was Chair of the HCA. She is one of the most impressive and energising leaders I have worked with during my career. She is also tremendous fun. She thoroughly deserves this award"
Karen Moyse, Founder, Kineticfuture Leadership Communications

“Sarah has taken on Chair responsibility for a Project Group developing a business case for novel retrieval technology used in abdominal organ retrieval. This has involved getting a working knowledge of a complex, technical field of surgical expertise, gaining the respect of senior clinical colleagues form across the UK, and she has done this, using the same quietly assertive, collaborative approach she demonstrated during her interview for Lay Member within NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT).”
Karen Quinn, Assistant Director, UK Commissioning, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT)

“I have worked with Sarah for more than 10 years, in different companies and across a number of therapy areas. Her expertise is wide-ranging and her knowledge of the healthcare space is exceptional. She always offers valuable insights and brings a great team of people with her. Everything is done with a big smile; she’s always upbeat and is never one to be phased by setbacks or seemingly unsurpassable obstacles. Her positivity is infectious and she is clearly very highly respected by everyone who works for – or with - her. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
Dr Wendy M Shaw, Director of Scientific Communication, EMEA Medical Affairs, Santen

“In my view, Sarah is the unsung heroine of our industry. So much of her senior consulting is confidential that few people know of her amazing achievements with leading industry bodies such as the ABPI and the DH, and with industry leaders who trust her counsel. She is also a modest person and would never blow her own trumpet, so it's high time we did it for her. She is an entrepreneur, business leader, groundbreaking strategic consultant and there isn't an ounce of pomposity about her.  Her achievements with Virgo are just the tip of the iceberg. In my view she should have received this award years ago!”
Catherine Warne, Partner, Redhead Associates

“I have worked with Sarah for over twenty five years on every possible aspect of communication from new medicine launches, product work and issues management. Her strong, considered approach, strategic insight and dedication to completion and evaluation has proven a hugely successful combination. Despite co-leading a hugely successful and large business Sarah always stayed close to client work and issues and her commitment to the on-going development of health communications was always apparent. A true leader in healthcare communications.”
Stephen Whitehead. Corporate Relations Director at Crescent Capital Partners 

“Since joining Virgo as an Account Manager ten years ago to my current position as Managing Director of the whole company, Sarah has been absolutely fundamental to that journey. She has a unique ability to make you feel supported and yet totally in charge of your own destiny; imparting her knowledge, experience and intuition but never spoon-feeding the answers. Under her thoughtful and thought-provoking line management, I have been free to make my own decisions, choices and at times mistakes, which have created a truly dynamic and accelerated learning experience that undoubtedly has led me to the position I am in today.”
Ondine Whittington, Managing Director, Virgo Health

Category Sponsors

Debbie Tuesley - Communiqué Awards Director

Key dates

Entry deadline 11 March 2022
Extended entry deadline 18 March 2022
(additional fee applies)
Judging days May 2022
Awards Ceremony 7th July 2022

Contact information:

For sponsorship opportunities:
Sales Team
Tel: +44 (0)1372 414200

General event enquiries:
Debbie Tuesley
Tel: +44 (0)1372 414243

Entry and dinner booking enquiries:
Saoirse Meenaghan
Tel: 01372 414253