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Q&A: Amar Urhekar

PME interviews Ashfield Health's Global President

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The possibilities. Every single day presents the possibility to do something new and different and solve problems – about health-related issues or about people, two things I am most passionate about improving.

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

Barack Obama, because his life inspires us to be audacious and dream of achieving the impossible.

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

My innate belief is that what we do matters! I wanted to be a surgeon when I grew up, because surgeons save lives. I feel like healthcare comms is the closest I’ll ever come to this. Every single effort, every single interaction, across any stakeholder in the healthcare realm – when done right, with passion and care, has the potential to change people’s lives. That’s the responsibility we have as healthcare comms professionals and I take that very seriously.

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

Well, it’s the opportunity to do better every time. We truly need to overcome the inherent inertia (health comms is tough, regulations, etc, etc) that can exist. We need to push the boundaries and not let the constraints that exist in healthcare comms prevent us from making a difference through our work. We must continue to find ways to be innovative and creative.

Which buzzwords/office jargon get on your nerves?

There are many! Digital transformation, alignment, agree to disagree, with due respect, move the needle, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water...

What’s your favourite bar or eatery?

There’s a particular bar called Ban in Tokyo that’s a real hidden gem. It’s a unique and very creative place frequented by artists, writers, Japanese movie stars and all kinds of interesting people. Visitors can draw on the wall and leave their mark. The owner is super friendly and warm, and she makes you feel like you are having a drink in a living room with your friends. Surrounded by very cool people!

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

There are many, but if I had to pick one, it would be Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It allowed me to rediscover and reimagine Mumbai, my city of birth, through someone else’s eyes.

Who is your healthcare comms hero/heroine?

Fujita Masahiro, whom I know as Hiro. We worked together at McCann in Japan. Just before his 30th birthday, he was diagnosed with ALS. I watched him deteriorate before my eyes.

Yet his response to his disease blew me away. He set up the END ALS Association and even wrote a book about it with the aid of eye-tracking software as he was no longer able to type. He’s a true inspiration.

What has been your career highlight to date?

I’d like to think my career highlight is still to come. I have great ambitions for where we can take healthcare communications and its impact on humanity.

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

Be brutally honest about your reasons for working in healthcare comms and be relentlessly passionate in your work. Healthcare comms really matters. You must be committed and give 100%, as patients are relying on us to get it right.

30th April 2021

From: PME


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