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A Day in the Life of Strategic Planning Director Megan Hillen

Penelope LaRocque

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What field did you work in before you joined Intouch, and how long have you been in marketing?

My marketing career started about six years ago. I’ve always been fascinated by humans and why we act and think the way we do, which gave me a start in consumer research. I quickly made a switch to agency planning because of my interest in applying that research to the “what if.”

Prior to joining Intouch, I worked on a random assortment of non-pharma products, including beer, sports nutrition, hotels, retail and transportation. The only consistency has been my focus on digital. Transitioning to pharma definitely required stretching unfamiliar muscles, but having worked on a variety of brands in the past — and constantly switching consumer mindsets and focuses — helped make the transition easier.

How would you describe your job to a stranger who isn’t in the marketing/advertising field?

After confusing many older family members and stumbling over explanations at conferences, I think I’ve landed on the best verbiage: “I work as a strategic planner at Intouch, where we uncover better digital experiences for patients and doctors through our healthcare clients.”

What are your typical responsibilities and challenges — what’s your average day like?

I’m not sure anyone at Intouch really has a typical day, which I think is something most agency folks are attracted to.

Lately, I’ve made an effort to not check email first thing when I get in. Rather, I start by outlining a to-do list, asking myself what needs to be done to make it a productive day. I also find that this gives me time to think things through before getting hit with the unavoidable inbox fire drills.

The hours before lunchtime are usually full of meetings, sprinkled with refill runs to the coffee bar. Meetings can range from creative briefings and status updates to client research shares to last-minute touchbases on client requests.

If the afternoon isn’t also filled with meetings, I’ll usually spend time catching up on industry perspectives or cranking out deliverables like creative briefs, insight reports and strategic presentations. Every day is different. One hour I’m focused on a site redesign; the next, on a patient adherence app; and the next, on providing patient insight for a social strategy.

Every few weeks, our planning team gets together to share what inspires us. It’s usually not even healthcare-focused and typically leads to esoteric conversations about social norms, human behavior or the meaning of life. On the surface, it might not appear relevant for work, but I find it incredibly refreshing and an invaluable bonding activity for our nerdy team. And many times I’ll learn things that do impact future projects.

How often do you interact with clients, and in what capacity?

Planners usually interact with clients on larger strategic initiatives or when a project is research-dependent [as most should be]. I find a planner’s role with clients is one of the luckier roles to have. We get to explain everything through the eyes of their customers. As a planner, you have the fortunate job of using data and insight to give the patient a voice and bring their struggles to life. We always try to tell a compelling story, and clients are typically very receptive. Planners also have the freedom to push teams and bring new findings, case studies or ideas to the table — which is also something that always catches a client’s ear.

What type of a personality or disposition do you think is best suited for your job?

I find that the best planners I’ve worked with possess three things: empathy, curiosity and an ability to communicate vision. Empathy allows for greater sensitivity to our customer’s needs. Curiosity forces us to continually ask why and dig deep to uncover the human truths that make our work strongest. And vision allows us to always be forward-thinkers who can clearly articulate the “what if.”

It also helps to be level-headed and see a solution in everything, even in the craziest of contexts.

What do you find most rewarding about your position?

There’s something innately altruistic about what we do at Intouch. We’re not just trying to sell more beer or sports drinks. We’re trying to make an impact on the lives of people who truly need it. Yes, we put clients and their needs first. But at the end of the day, we’re also creating experiences for people with debilitating chronic conditions. If we can make their struggle just a little bit better, that’s a worthwhile position to be in.

Is working in pharma marketing different than you expected when you started here?

Absolutely. In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d assumed there would be tighter regulations but didn’t anticipate the extent of the impact it would have on innovative thinking. However, it feels like we collectively view it as an added challenge to the work we do every day.  

 

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