Interview Series: Sarah Savage, Former Business Director/EMEA client lead, Ogilvy Healthworld

Posted by: in Employee Interviews, Insights on July 2, 2014

With all of the hiring W2O Group/WCG have done recently, we wanted to take a little time to let our partners/customers/employees get to know some of these new employees better. To that end, we have a blog series that asks each of our new employees to answer five questions — some straightforward and some that show our more playful slide. Via this process, we’re hoping to give our readers a little better sense of who we are.

The next interviewee in our series  is Sarah Savage who brings many years of integrated healthcare comms experience to the W2O Team. Located in our London office, Sarah leads the WCG Pharma and Med Ed team and plays a key role in developing the medical education/professional healthcare comms team, and driving new business development.

[Aaron] Sarah, you joined us earlier this year, and I know you were thrown in at the deep end and have been on a world tour of client meetings and new business development! So how have you found it?

[Sarah] It’s been like one huge marathon of business and adventure and I’ve loved every minute! I’ve always worked across integrated teams during my time at Ogilvy, but seeing how the W20 group does business has been extremely insightful. We take integration to the next level and combined with the unique insights that our analytics products uncover, it’s a very powerful combination for our clients. The level of talent across the different companies is phenomenal. Across our network, there are inspiring people from diverse industries and backgrounds providing fresh thinking and thought leadership. It’s a really buzzy atmosphere and lots of fun!  It’s also incredible to see the power of our “one long hallway” approach in action; everyone really is part of one big team and always willing to partner. For example, if you need a particular skill/talent from elsewhere in the organization, you can just go to that individual and get the support you need to best serve the client. Departments, job title and geographies do not matter – we simply focus on getting the best solutions for our clients.

I’ve been able to effectively tap into my deep oncology and CNS experience for a number of W2O clients and pitches, including several launch campaigns for new MOA therapies in areas of high unmet need, such as CTI’s Pixuvri, so I could immediately get to grips with the opportunities we’re working on.

As I have over 10yrs senior management experience including spending 2yrs running the Oxford based medical education agency ( Ogilvy 4D), this has given me valuable leadership and management experience for my current role, and allowed me to quickly integrate into the WCG healthcare leadership team.


[Aaron] Sarah, tell me a little more about your past experience please.

[Sarah] Ok! During 2012-13, I was the EMEA Regional Lead for one of Ogilvy’s largest healthcare clients, who are one of the world’s largest Pharma companies. I gained extensive experience of leading and being part of 360 teams, collaborating with other offices/client networks, cross-discipline working, and working at a WPP network level. All these skills have been extremely useful in working here at W2O. In terms of my healthcare expertise, it’s quite broad, spanning a wide range of therapy areas (not just CNS and oncology as previously mentioned). I’ve also worked in the areas of gastroenterology, transplantation, rare diseases (eg PNH), aesthetics and anti-infectives.

[Aaron] What is your “super power?”

[Sarah] My superpower is ….talking to animals….chickens, dogs, cats, horses….and linked to that, having a pretty good ability to avoid falling off when horse riding – even on the most crazy beasts! It’s a skill known as the superglue ability!

[Aaron] If you could work with any company as a client, who would it be and why?

[Sarah] Virgin Galactic – as I would negotiate a free trip as part of the deal for myself and the team! I’d love to go into space as I’m a big Star Trek and Star Wars fan (actually most sci fi).

[Aaron] How do you stay up to date on latest trends/industry news?

[Sarah] BBC News (Twitter Handle: @BBCBreaking),  The TimesHuffington PostPMLiveThe Pharma Letter, and IFLScience

[Aaron] Finish this sentence… “The agency of the future is ____?”

[Sarah] …constantly evolving, a melting pot of talent, with a passionate heart for the clients’ brands. Never guessing; always using data and insights to inform strategy. Pushing the boundaries in healthcare, by adapting learnings from other industry sectors to ensure creative solutions that lead to the desired behavior change for the brands we work with.

Critical to the success of the agency of the future, is having fully integrated teams, skilled in multichannel marketing. The healthcare ecosystem is an increasingly tightly regulated and governed space, with limited budgets available for new medicines. For new products to demonstrate cost effectiveness and be approved by the relevant HTA (healthcare technology association), pharma companies must be prepared to do even more than ever to demonstrate their product’s value. This is driving the pharma industry towards a multichannel approach. This environment, along with the increased use of digital technology by doctors, patients and other healthcare stakeholders, means that there is a clear need toward a more efficient, targeted communication that more closely relates to the needs of the customer. This is something that multichannel marketing has succeeded in doing in other industries – now it’s time for Pharma to embrace this approach.

With the increased use of digital technology, it could perhaps be seen as tempting to think that social media and digital interactions are enough to create meaningful partnerships between doctors and the Pharma industry.  In any medical education program, the power of human interactions and face to face meetings where opinions and knowledge are exchanged, are still critical for physicians to feel engaged and valued.


By: Aaron Strout

Aaron is the President of WCG, one of the three agencies under the W2O Group umbrella. He is a regular contributor to Marketing Land and a co-host of video podcast, Live from Stubbs.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.

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