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Interview: Julia Kendrick

Allergan's in-house PR counsel on winning Communiqué 2013's Young Achiever
Julia Kendrick, Young Achiever in Healthcare Communications

Julia Kendrick (left) being presented her award at Communiqué 2013

Great new talent is constantly emerging in healthcare communications, and the Young Achiever in Healthcare Communications category aims to celebrate the work of anyone under 30 who has made their mark on the industry.

Julia Kendrick of Allergan was the deserved winner in 2013, ably handling the company strategy at a time of crisis for breast aesthetics due to the scandal of French implant manufacturer, PIP.

Where were you in your career at the time of your win?
I had nine years in healthcare PR under my belt. I was six months into my in-house role of medical communications manager for the EMEA region at Allergan.

How did it feel to win the Young Achiever award?
It was such a huge honour to be recognised by some of the leading players in our industry. It was actually slightly tricky because I had worked closely with or knew personally four of the other candidates so I was really rooting for them as well! Winning also gives a certain level of recognition in the industry and it's a great gateway to open up new opportunities and to feel more confident in my capabilities.

How has your career developed since then?
It's been busy. My role has been expanded to encompass not only Allergan facial but also the breast implant business as well. So I've been working hard with PR agencies in 10 countries to deliver not only PR plans for this year but planning the big picture for 2014 too.

What attracted you to a career in healthcare communications?
I left university with a science degree and I didn't really know what I wanted to do; I just wanted a career in a fast-paced environment where I'd constantly be learning new things. I got into healthcare PR purely by chance via a friend's recommendation but I quickly discovered that it ticked all those boxes.

What are the key learnings you have made in this time?
The increase in regulation has meant we have had to up our game, and make sure not only are our comms impactful and strategic, but they are also compliant. I think that the constant cat and mouse game is an interesting challenge and I think it's one that I really relish. It's evolution for a good cause though as it's bringing industry standard and reputation to the fore.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced?
I actually think the most challenging thing is demonstrating the return-on-investment (ROI) for PR in particular. It's trying to make PR relevant and make it appear on the balance sheets. And making sure everything that is leverage on a PR standpoint is utilised in other areas of the business. It can be seen as a branch of its own, but it's now becoming more integrated.

What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
What inspired me to come into industry is knowing that somewhere along the line, our work is making a difference in the lives of patients. It's maybe way down the line and we don't always need to see it, but we know it's happening somehow.

What are your thoughts on the future of healthcare comms?
It's evolving constantly and so rapidly that it's crucial to get integration at the centre of every strategic plan we make. I think education is coming up more and not just educating doctors but also the public and the media. It's about empowering people with correct information.

What would you say to someone starting out in the industry?
The biggest piece of advice I was given was to really take ownership of your own learning and development. To seek out those opportunities to ask those questions and don't wait for other people to tell you what to do.

And what would you say to someone thinking of entering the Communiqué Awards?
The Communiqué awards showcase the crème de la crème of the industry. It's so exciting the new thoughts and energy every year. Every year it's better and I can't wait to see what happens in 2014.

Article by
Thomas Meek

6th February 2014

From: Marketing



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