12 Questions with Michael Stevinson

Sales & Marketing
12 Questions with Michael Stevinson

Michael Stevinson is Global Agency Head at Caudex, an IPG Health Medical Communications company. He has 20 years of experience in medical communications and has dedicated his career to challenging the status quo and shaping our industry. Stevinson spearheads initiatives in medical communications and leads transformation.

What are the main responsibilities of your current role? As Global Agency Head of Caudex, at IPG Health Medical Communications, I am responsible for the executive leadership of a diverse global medical communications agency with team members in the US, Canada, and Europe. I am responsible for the strategic planning and business management of an innovative, growth-oriented agency aimed at redefining impact in all aspects of health in partnership with our clients. We innovate in medical communications to deliver on our clients’ aspirations to take the best care of patients all over the world. In addition to my role, I also lead engagement across our broader medical communications agency network to support our Medical Affairs clients and services. As the “champion” of our Medical Affairs Accelerator, I am focused on driving innovation, engagement, and elevated experiences, so that our teams continually redefine impactful solutions for Medical Affairs professionals.

What was your background prior to this role and how did it prepare you for the work you do now? In addition to my more than 20 years of experience across the spectrum of medical communications, I have also worked in education, publishing, and technology. No matter the industry, there are some unifying perspectives that I have absorbed along the way. One is that people will do amazing things if they derive meaning from their work - nothing is impossible to achieve if you are committed to it - and the other is that clear communication can solve 99.99% of all problems. I’ve learned so much from the experiences of being a teacher, writer, problem-solver, creator, builder, and leader. These experiences have all been essential to my ability to lead a global agency to connect with, and deliver for, our clients.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment to date? There are so many to choose from! The satisfaction I get from professional accomplishments has certainly evolved over the years from being an individual contributor to leading high performing teams and everything in between. Our agency teams deliver impactful work and have been recognised through prestigious industry awards, which makes me very proud. But my proudest professional accomplishments over the past several years have centred on creating a unified culture and an environment for people to do their most amazing work. I feel most inspired when I see someone on our team reach a personal or professional goal that they have worked hard to achieve.

What are some of the biggest ongoing challenges in your work? Time, people, and technology are our most critical assets that also represent some of our biggest challenges. We all wish for more time to do our best work. Processes, timelines, compliance, and competitive market dynamics all play a role in our feeling like time is always working against us. Our exceptionally talented people have complex needs that are as culturally diverse and unique as each of them. Leading and managing amidst the complex dynamics of human behaviour and individual evolving needs can be challenging. And, lastly, technology - along with its ability to unlock efficiency and innovation - can be challenging to understand and difficult to apply quickly to use cases. Luckily for us, our people believe deeply that the challenges within each also represent our biggest opportunities.

What motivates you about working in pharma? What motivates me the most – and what I feel most fortunate to be a part of – is the opportunity each and every day to support healthcare practitioners in their work to take care of patients. I’ve had the privilege to work alongside pharma and biotech clients on cutting edge treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, cancers, severe mental disorders, neurological disorders, and rare diseases – and many others – and feel lucky to have been a small part of making those patients’ (and their families’) lives better.

What excited you most about current industry trends? Beware the trends that may not be sustainable for driving the most impact in the medium- or long-term. Sometimes we make knee-jerk reactions to the things that are here and now, and it clouds our vision. What excites me most is the opportunity for trends to make a long-term impact in how we create experiences for, and engage with, customers. I’m very excited about the impact artificial intelligence is making when appropriately partnered with human talent to boost efficiency, enhance creativity, and enable content amortisation across channels (among other things). This is a “trend” that is here to stay and will evolve well into the future, making tremendous impact on how we shape the future of our industry.

What has changed most about the industry since the start of your career? There are two things that stand out as having changed dramatically since the start of my career.

The first is the rapid pace at which enhanced healthcare is required. There is a significant immediacy in almost everything we do to support our pharmaceutical and biotech clients. Thanks to technological innovations, we can work quite nimbly and flexibly compared to more than 20 years ago. I quite like the faster pace and the reality that we are getting much needed impactful information to healthcare practitioners with the same urgency that patients require it.

The second is the changing dynamics of our talent and ways of working. We have more specialised and talented people in our agency than ever before, and we are working more flexibly and dynamically from diverse geographic locations. In my view, it is no longer necessary to be shoulder-to-shoulder in an office, since we have advanced our ability to stay connected and work dynamically, virtually and wherever our customers are.

What advice do you have for your pharma industry peers? We are currently in a more rapidly evolving business environment than even that of the 2020 COVID era. My advice is to continue to embrace and drive change. Be a driver of the change you believe to be necessary for yourself, your people, and customers.

What advice would you give to a young person starting out in your field? I have three teenagers at home so I would give the same advice I give to them as they continue in their life journey. This applies to anyone getting into the incredible world of medical communications.

  1. If you commit to doing something, do it to the best of your ability. And don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail fast, learn, shake it off, and keep at it. Failure will help you to build resilience and confidence.
  3. The time, effort, and commitment you put into your career will yield amazing returns. Work hard, be available to take on new experiences and work with other people, take on new challenges, and share your ideas (even if you think they might be a little bit silly or weird at times).

What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time? I love listening to and playing music (guitar), reading, investing, and exploring new technologies. I’m a dad, a husband, a friend, and a medical communications professional (among so many other things), so these hobbies all support my being better at all of the complex parts of who I am as a person.

What is your all-time favourite book? As a former high school English teacher, I really do love to read and this is a hard question. One of my all-time favourite books is Black Spring by Henry Miller. It’s just a wonderfully beautiful novel.

What’s your best celebrity meeting story? I’ve had the good fortune of meeting many celebrities over the years, from Joan Rivers to Bruce Springsteen, to Ice-T and many more in between. In recent memory, though maybe not the “best” story, I’m almost certain that I contracted COVID from meeting Brian Cranston and Aaron Paul from “Breaking Bad” at a Dos Hombres mezcal bottle signing event in May 2022. They are incredibly talented and were fun and down to earth, but there were a lot of people there and it was my first no-mask crowd situation at an indoor event. Thankfully, only mild COVID ensued.

Connect with Michael Stevinson on LinkedIn.

14 May, 2024