We are delighted to Welcome Madeleine Haley, Senior Account Executive, Healthcare, BCW to the NoTurningBack2020 Ambassador team
@madeleinehaley @ellamason @tanwaedu
Here she tells us how she took the ´Scenic Route´ into Communications, shares insights into the specific challenges faced by the Healthcare sector, particularly in the current climate and why you should value yourself and what you can bring to the industry.
Tell us a bit about your career to date, your experience and your key skills. Why did you decide on a career in Marketing / Communications? How did you break into the sector?
Despite going straight from high school to studying for a degree in communications at the age of 17, I didn’t end up working in the comms industry for nearly a decade – I call it taking the scenic route. After going back to university many years later and completing a master’s degree in Global Political Economy with a focus on healthcare policy, I realized there must be a way to bring together the skills and knowledge I’d accumulated throughout both degrees and during the many random jobs I had in between. This was also the first time I learnt about graduate schemes and that, besides internships and personal connections, they are one of the only ways into the comms industry. I was incredibly lucky to be given a place on BCW London’s graduate program and I’ve been a member of their Healthcare practice ever since.
What do you most love about your work? Can you give an example of a project you are currently working on and your role in it?
Working in healthcare communications is really unlike any other sector. Due to the complex legal framework that we and our clients operate within, our creativity and problem solving have to be next level. Finding ways to communicate with the public around highly politicized issues like vaccination has been a particularly rewarding experience. How do you encourage people to get vaccinated when you can’t use the words vaccination? How do you ensure people feel in control and fully autonomous, while still making a point about the dire public health needs and the genuine safety concerns posed by deadly viruses?
I’ve been really lucky to work with a team that values my input and opinions, despite still being in the beginning stages of my career. Seeing our ideas go from just pitch concepts to a globally rolled out campaign on every continent is really incredible!
What more do you think needs to be done to level the playing field for people from more diverse backgrounds in the Marketing & Communications?
The comms industry in general, and public relations in particular, is a very white industry. Those who are in charge of connecting with people, supporting brands to reach diverse communities, and communicating with the public during times of crisis, so rarely reflect or belong to the very communities they are trying to reach. If there is no diversity of backgrounds, culture and thought when comms decisions are being made, we cannot possibly claim to know how to develop inclusive and far-reaching campaigns.
Firms and agencies must take an active role in looking at how they can include more voices every step of the way. From internships and junior schemes that don’t only pull from the same pool of privileged grad students (I include myself in that category), to looking at leadership structures and having an honest conversation about the voices that are missing from the c-suit.
What is your one piece of advice to young people looking at a career in Marketing or PR?
I think it’s important to remember, all throughout your career but particularly right at the beginning, that regardless of where you’ve come from or how many years you have in the industry – your voice, your opinions, and your perspective matters. You don’t need to have 20 years under your belt to be of value to the company you work for. Regardless of what anyone might tell you, unpaid work or work that only offers to “look great on your CV” is actually work that does not recognize your value. Find a company that knows they are lucky to have you and is willing to demonstrate that – those are your people, and it will set a precedent for the rest of your career.