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Working with purpose and putting talent development at the heart of operations

Margot Hannah is chief executive of OPEN Health Communications

Margot Hannah Open Health

Margot Hannah, the new Chief Executive Officer of OPEN Health Communications, is used to challenges. She worked in a large rural patch in the West of Scotland in her first pharma industry job and was then one of the first people through the doors when OPEN Health started in 2011.

Combining multiple roles was a given in the company’s formative days and it’s a can-do ethic that has helped the healthcare comms and market access agency extend its reach and influence to a roster of 900 staff working across six countries.

“I was the account manager, director and administrator all at the same time and there were just two of us pitching for business with freelance medical writers called in ad hoc back then,” remembers Hannah, who worked at AstraZeneca, Takeda and Merck before joining the agency.

“To see the company grow organically has been a fantastic thing to be part of and witnessing someone join in a junior role and progress to senior leadership positions is one of the most rewarding aspects of OPEN Health.”

Hannah will be responsible for more than 650 people, with overall accountability for the Medical and Brand Communications services, including publications, medical education, learning and development, and creative and digital services.

“I do feel a profound sense of responsibility but I've got a really great leadership team and we have our arms around a strong, thriving business,” she adds.

Talent development is a core focus for Hannah who believes that nurturing individuals, teams and a distinct, creative culture are vital to fuel the next generation of healthcare engagement and communications.

“The perception of the pharmaceutical industry has changed enormously over the last 18 months with an unprecedented growth in public trust resulting in greater investment in pharma, biotechs and healthcare, particularly across Europe with the UK being a real centre of life sciences excellence.”

Work creatively and push boundaries
“This generates confidence and opportunities but we have to differentiate and demonstrate our capabilities and culture. You cannot just address diversity, inclusivity and CSR internally; it has to be reflected within your work. Our mission is to bring information, data and research to life and connect that with the audience. We have to ask ourselves how can we create content that connects at all levels, across the healthcare professional community and patient populations.”

OPEN Health’s communications practice has grown from 422 at the start of January to 649 and their London office is well populated, although Hannah is keen for staff to have the option of hybrid working patterns.

“It is brilliant that we are continuing to grow but that places a huge responsibility on us to do it right and have a world-class onboarding programme,” she adds. “It is an exciting challenge and for that we need the right staff who are empowered to work creatively, push boundaries and have time to really dig deep to understand how our work can make a difference.”

Nurturing staff
Hannah believes companies must make a strong case that their ethos is ethical, diverse and sustainable to attract the right talent who want to work for firms that reflect their broad views. “Our work needs to have a purpose; people want to work for a company that shares their values and gives something back. At OPEN Health, we are here to make a difference in everything we do.

“I want to make it as easy as possible for staff to succeed by giving them the support and time to grow at their pace. If they feel empowered, they enjoy their work, have more fun then we all benefit.”

OPEN Health has a comprehensive range of career development strategies and programmes in place including a growing team of dedicated learning and development managers.

“There is a lot of on-the-job learning, of course, but we want to have structure in place so that people can understand the realities of leadership from the technical abilities and the need to be credible and authentic. Nurturing staff has never been more important.”

Hannah, who helped OPEN Health’s med comms business grow from zero to $30 million, has been deeply involved in the company’s growth strategy which was boosted by the recent acquisition of digital creative agency ARK and the med-comms agency Spirit.

“OPEN Health has come a long way and the trajectory is exciting,” she adds. “We work successfully by harnessing the power of our collective talents, our collective scientific and creative expertise, so that we can then make that real difference. We do our best work in partnership with clients to help improve patient outcomes.  It is rewarding and uplifting.”

Margot Hannah, chief executive of OPEN Health Communications, was talking to health journalist Danny Buckland

6th December 2021

From: Healthcare

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