Top ten innovators in pharma: Faisal Ahmed

Hannah Blake

pharmaphorum

We asked you to nominate those who you considered to be a top innovator in pharma. We were delighted with your responses and have whittled it down to the top ten pharma innovators for this series.

In our first article of this series, we speak with Faisal Ahmed, nominated for his impressive collection of digital and social media launches within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.

Name: Faisal Ahmed

Position: Marketing at Plotr.co.uk

Reasons for nomination as a pharma innovator include:

• His extensive portfolio of product and service launches throughout the pharma and healthcare industries.

• His progressive outlook and innovative transposition of the energy and enthusiasm of FMCG and other verticals into pharma messages.

• Faisal is not only fantastic at what he does, but also a genuinely down-to-earth guy.

• He has won over 35 awards for his extensive work throughout pharma.

• Faisal was part of the team who launched Amazon.co.uk.

“Faisal has an incredible portfolio of work, including being part of the Amazon.co.uk start up…”

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Background:

Faisal Ahmed has over 14 years experience across new media, helping business to expand and increasing customer bases. With an in depth understanding of consumer behaviour online and new media technologies, Faisal has an incredible portfolio of work, including being part of the Amazon.co.uk start up, launching one of the first ever healthcare apps for mobiles and also launching one of the UK’s first social media networks.

Interview summary

HB: What to you consider to be your defining character traits?

FA: Being humble, working that extra bit harder every day, and being investigative – always asking why.

HB: How would your colleagues / peers describe you?

FA: I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing people and I think they would describe me as a hard-working troublemaker, as I never settle for the obvious solution. I like stirring things up, exploring new ways to approach things and ultimately coming up with ideas that change how we interact with digital, to the benefit of everyone.

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“I think [my peers] would describe me as a hard-working troublemaker, as I never settle for the obvious solution.”

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HB: Who or what has inspired you to get to where you are today?

FA: Lots of people, especially my sister, who as a second generation immigrant has been voted as one of the top 30 most powerful women in the UK. So at home I am always reminded and pushed to work harder and now that I do, my mum keeps telling to work less!

If I had to pin point one particularly influential person in my career I would say Jeff Bezos, as he’s far ahead of his time and he came up with the Kindle in 1998 and Amazon cloud services back in 2000. He invested in Google when they were based in a garage and he’s also one of the first investors in Twitter. He instilled a principle in me to always think ahead and always think about the customer / end user first, then work backwards to how it can be done. My favourite quote from him is “Advertising is a price you pay for an unremarkable product” – he kept pushing to ensure the marketing was baked into the product, which will drive WOM, so with everything I do I try to make sure the WOM / viral factor is built in.

HB: What advice would you give to anyone embarking on a career in pharma at the moment?

FA: Don’t settle for mediocrity, pharma was built by innovation, so no matter what department you work for, there are always ways to innovate and improve any process. Always challenge the norm!

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“Don’t settle for mediocrity, pharma was built by innovation, so no matter what department you work for, there are always ways to innovate and improve any process.”

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HB: What do you see to be the biggest challenge posed to pharma at the moment?

FA: There will always be big challenges in our industry, but at the moment the purse strings are getting even tighter. With pressure from the NHS to cut back, the rise of the generics market and the push to get new products to market quicker and quicker, efficiency &amp, cost-effectiveness is key. It’s a tough time in the industry as a whole, but in some ways, a good time – an opportunity to think outside the box a bit more and work out clever ways to maximise the money there is. I believe that innovative, new and better ways to communicate will fall out of this period and our industry, our customer and most importantly the patient, will be better off.

HB: What key phrase best sums up your approach to work and life?

FA: Work hard, have fun and make history!

HB: What keeps you busy outside work?

FA: I’d love to say reading, cycling, golf and football (watching it!), but I spend most of my time out of work tweeting, writing for my blog on advertising at cleverpeeps.com, doing the digitallysick.com podcast, helping increase diversity in advertising and advising companies for free on digital strategies. Alongside all of this, I always make sure I’m learning something new every minute.

The next part of this series can be viewed here.

pharmaphorum-social-media-workshop-12th-July

About the nominee:

Faisal Ahmed is one of a handful of people in the UK that has been involved with digital for over 14 years, providing digital thought leadership to some of the biggest brands globally, also contributing to some of the best-selling books on digital, having been part of the start-up team at Amazon, defining how we shop online. Faisal has launched digital strategies for 90 football Clubs, the ECB and WRC. He also launched Playboy’s mobile and social media platforms in 2006 and one of the first online social networks.

Over the last 2 years, Faisal has been working in healthcare winning over 30 awards and bringing to life both one of the first mobile apps and augmented reality in healthcare. Faisal is currently helping launch Plotr.co.uk, a Government and industry led youth inspiration portal. Faisal can be found tweeting here and contacted on LinkedIn here.

How do you think technology will shape the future of healthcare?