Owner and Managing Director
7 July 2022
We asked James about how the business started, and his plans for the future of Wave.
How did your career in medical communications start?
I was a brand manager at GSK and found myself getting more drawn to the part of the role which involved med comms and peer to peer engagement. Rod, one of our directors, and I first worked together in 1996 on a major med comms initiative called ‘United against Asthma’. It was a hybrid webinar-based event with around 1000 GPs – sometimes it feels like little has changed!
What inspired you to build your own medical communications agency?
I think I’d always wanted to run my own business, but wasn’t quite sure how to set it apart from what was already out there. Through partnership with several agencies, I began to feel there was a gap in the market for one which was more focused on the evolution of pharma brands than was typical at the time. I really felt there was room for more med comms agencies run by people who had grown up with pharma marketing. There are loads of us now – turns out we were right!
What goes into being Managing Director at Wave?
Good question – I often feel like I’m still working on the answer. It’s a balance really, between the ambition to keep us moving forwards with new accounts and broadening of client service offering, coupled with fostering the development of our people into roles that fulfil them, so that they want to build their careers with us.
It’s also important we keep an eye on our performance as a company, and optimise our processes across a growing team to ensure our client service offering is consistent and we stay on the leading edge of what med comms can offer.
What are the main challenges you see in the industry at the moment?
A key challenge will be adapting to life post-COVID. Many of us have done well with broadcast and digital med comms, but careful navigation of this next phase is crucial to success over the coming years. Face-to-face events are coming back, but we need to prepare for a new integrated world and be agile in the face of constant change.
At Wave, adapting to a more flexible hybrid working model has been exciting and successful so far. However, the challenge is ensuring that support for more junior team members is not compromised, and that they’re able to develop into the next generation of great medical writers and programme managers. It feels like this is beginning to turn into a big conversation and it will be fascinating to see how it evolves in the coming months throughout our industry and others.
Wave has achieved many successes in the last year. What are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the way we adapted when the challenges of COVID hit us. The way we have grown the team though a difficult couple of years, the number of promotions and our new graduate scheme stand out for me. We’ve also moved into a larger premises in order to accommodate our ever-expanding team, and it’s a great place to be on the days we are in the office together.
What are your plans for the growth of Wave? What are you most excited about?
More of the same really – we aim to grow our revenue and our team by around 20% and continue to bed down the quality-based processes we have been working hard to design. The change this year will be a bigger focus on new business growth and a greater engagement with our industry, we have a history of being a bashful in this regard and it’s time for that to change!
Do you have any advice for someone beginning their career in medical communications?
Firstly, well done on finding us! As an industry with well-paid and exciting roles, we haven’t done a great job at promoting ourselves, but I think that’s changing, as many companies are investing in connecting with universities to access a talent pool we have perhaps too long ignored. I think it’s hard to imagine a sector where there is so much scope for success given the broad range of skills and personalities with the potential to thrive in this field.
Wave is a global healthcare communications agency. We combine scientific, medical and brand expertise to deliver clinically focussed programmes which are trusted by HCPs and drive better patient outcomes. To find out more about us, click here.
If Wave sounds like a place you’d love to work, click here to view our current vacancies.