A career in medical communications is extremely rewarding but it’s not for the faint-hearted with lots of hard work, tight deadlines and keeping up with the fast pace. Katy Binney reveals exactly what it’s like to be Associate Director, Global Corporate Affairs for a multinational pharmaceutical organisation.
No two days are the same
“My day-to-day role changes regularly as it really depends on what is happening within the organisation at the time. For example, if we’ve got an important conference or event coming up, my job will be to help organise all the communications around that event. I will work on everything from the pre-and post-event communications, theme and design of the meeting, through to the run-of-show and content.”
Katy also looks after several executive staff members in the organisation who are often travelling internationally. It is her job to help them in preparing for any internal or external engagements that they may have – this could involve developing presentations, speaking notes, and preparing briefings ahead of press interviews and speeches.
Internal communication is also a big part of Katy’s job, in terms of employee engagement: “I need to make sure our employees are aligned and energised by our global strategy. We want them to feel motivated and connected to what we’re trying to achieve as a company and make sure they have the materials and assets that they need to do their jobs effectively.”
You don’t need a medical background
Before working in the med comms world, Katy studied for a journalism/communications degree; she then worked across several in-house and Government ministerial communication roles before joining an international PR agency to specialise in healthcare. She believes that while it wouldn’t do you any harm to have a medical background when it comes to interpreting science content for her role, you certainly don’t need it: “You just need to be well organised and be able to juggle many different things at the same time. It’s relentless prioritisation and making sure you are putting things in place for success for the rest of the week.
“You also need great writing skills – you’ve got to be able to absorb and write-up information quickly and in the right tone for a particular audience. You also need to be able to effectively manage multiple stakeholders at the same time – know your strategy and be able to influence accordingly, know your content and know your audiences.
“I used to work in a very fast-paced agency and I think one of the things agency life teaches you is learning to juggle so many things at once. Having to manage a lot of different clients and prioritise each of them accordingly has set me up for being able to take on a lot of responsibilities in-house.”
Making a difference
Katy also finds the industry extremely rewarding and likes the fact that she is contributing in some small way: “The reason I like working in healthcare is because at the end of the day, we are all ultimately working to improve the lives of patients around the world. In this industry, you also get to work with so many amazing people – from scientists who have discovered new molecules, to operations or manufacturing employees who have streamlined processes to get medicines to patients faster.
“It’s lots of fun and no two days are ever the same. This makes the role challenging, exciting and interesting and I genuinely enjoy getting up every morning and tackling the newest thing on my priority list.”