HomeBlog You Hired Who? Importing Senior Marketing Leaders From Outside the Healthcare Industry

You Hired Who? Importing Senior Marketing Leaders From Outside the Healthcare Industry

May 21, 2015 | By Jennifer Russo

  • Marketing leaders within the healthcare industry indicate that their new boss comes from outside healthcare
  • This trend seems pervasive in a couple sectors; namely, HIT and payers (health plans, health insurance organizations, PBMs)
  • The key for success is leveraging the unique perspectives that each marketing leader (both healthcare outsider and insider), brings to the table

Increasingly, I’m speaking with marketing leaders within the healthcare industry who are indicating that their new boss – The Big Chief, in many cases – comes from outside healthcare. This trend seems particularly pervasive in a couple sectors; namely, HIT and payers (health plans, health insurance organizations, PBMs). While at first this may seem counterintuitive (What about all the industry knowledge I built during the last 15 years of my career learning? What about all the regulations I need to know? But wait, healthcare is DIFFERENT!), there is also logic to it:

  • In many cases, non-healthcare marketing leaders have serious MARKETING chops. Let’s face it – healthcare often isn’t the fastest-moving industry, and in some cases, we’re lagging behind in strategic areas – marketing automation, to name just one.
  • Non-healthcare marketing executives bring an “outside-in” perspective. Many executive leaders know they have a staff full of healthcare experts. What they may not necessarily have are individuals who can bring a unique –and distinctly “non-healthcare” – perspective to help us innovate.
  • Non-healthcare leaders can drive transformation more quickly. Bringing someone in from the outside, while not giving carte blanche to turn the business model on its head, is a signal from executive leadership to the organization that change is not only expected, it’s desired.

That said, having a non-healthcare senior leader can be challenging. When faced with this, consider these three tips:

  1. Help your senior leader get up-to-speed on the industry, where needed. He or she may be intimidated by what you know. Offer help.
  2. Expect to be challenged. Because your senior leader is unencumbered by “how we do things in healthcare,” he or she will question our assumptions and push us to think differently. If you can lay bare your thinking, it can prove fantastic fodder for brainstorming and collaboration.
  3. Find bridges. Instead of shutting down a new idea (“We can’t do that; [insert government entity here] won’t allow it.”), think about ways you may be able to capitalize on the idea, if not the execution, within the guardrails of what is allowable in the segment.

And what if you’re the “non-healthcare” senior leader yourself?

  1. Value your team’s experience. Trust us, healthcare is hard. It’s not that we don’t want to do cool, innovative marketing … it’s that we’ve had to try to do so while strapped with complex industry regulations, bare-bones teams and little formal training.
  2. Encourage new ideas. You’ll find innovators on your team, even if they’re layered several levels below you. Having an open-door policy, where staff feels they can talk with you about new ways of doing things, will encourage those folks to step out of their roles.
  3. Spend time with clients. Nothing beats spending time with clients and listening to their challenges, pain points, and impressions of your new organization. Share this information with your team.

Healthcare certainly isn’t the only place where this type of disruption is happening. After all, President Obama was a scholar and law professor before he entered politics. President George W. Bush was the co-owner of a baseball team. In each case, they were valued (at least by some) for their “outsider” status. The key for success is leveraging the unique perspectives that each marketing leader (both healthcare outsider and insider), brings to the table.

What are your thoughts?  Leave us a comment.

Jennifer Russo

Jennifer is director of the healthcare segment at SiriusDecisions. She is a product and marketing leader with a background in health information technology, payers (health plans and pharmacy benefits), and strategic selling into bio/pharma. Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @Jrusso346.