It is a busy time at W2O Group from acquisitions to presenting our research at ESOMAR Congress, a lot of exciting opportunities have happened for us this year. The great news is we still have so much coming down the pike the rest of 2016. We want to make sure you have the scoop on what we are up to and how you can follow along. Check out what we have coming up this week, we hope you join us!

The Economist’s War on Cancer | September 28, 2016 | 2:45pm EST

Empowerment through numbers – Social media and technology

What steps have big pharma companies taken to analyze social media data and better inform themselves of patient needs?

Managing Director of MDigitalLife, Greg Matthews will discuss this and more at The Economist’s War on Cancer this Wednesday. His fellow panelists include:

If you’re interested in following along the conversation follow @W2OGroup for live updates on #WarOnCancer!

Webinar Invitation: How Relevant is Your Brand |September 29, 2016  1:00-1:45pm CST

Is your brand leading (or at least on trend with) where the market is heading…or is it reacting and trying to catch up? Join W2O Principal Gary Grates and Corporate Insights Lead Rob Jekielek as they discuss the emergence of relevance as a core driver of growth. Register here.

The discussion will focus on: 

  • The evolution of corporate reputation
  • The emergence of relevance as a driver of growth
  • Capturing an organization’s narrative to sustain ongoing, agile engagement

If you are unable to attend but would like to receive a recording of the webinar please sign up here.


What struck me most when I joined W2O was the range of talented people who work at the company. This diversity provides the ability to pull together multifunctional teams that can provide solutions to clients’ challenges that are truly integrated – we don’t think in silos – and that’s a good thing.

The London office also reflects cultural diversity – the range of accents and languages is staggering and adds value to our global offering.


The environment, culture and location of W2O were part of the reason I joined however the clients and quality of the work output were the real drivers. We start our engagements with robust analytics and insights which gives us a starting position of strength for any offering by helping us to inform our audience engagement much more substantially.

It’s no secret that there have been significant shifts in the roles and responsibilities of medical affairs within pharma and the focus of the education and support that they provide to the medical community. With an increasingly stringent regulatory framework and number of relevant stakeholders emerging, communications and education need needs to be more nuanced and targeted.

In medical education, it’s still about robust peer-to-peer communications and finding the key spokespeople is still relevant – who are the 1% driving the conversations and what are they saying? Physicians’ adoption of new therapies or clinical practices is still highly influenced by their colleagues’ experiences and recommendations. Getting the communicators aligned with the right audience through the right channels is paramount.

Our analytics and insights capabilities ensure that we can benchmark current physician behaviour and align this against the behaviour we want to achieve. But until we truly understand what the real barriers to the desired behaviour change are we can’t develop or implement a sound strategy to reach our goals. Through determining the behaviour change, honing in on who the 1% should be talking to and what they are saying, only then can we develop truly compelling scientific content that will resonate with the right people at the right time. Knowing our audience is also key to enabling information to reach them via communication platforms that they value. W2O has the global capabilities to add value to medical affairs and marketing teams using a strong evidence-based approach of solving challenges in the healthcare market. That approach is adaptable to meet the needs of individual clients. This coupled with the London team’s diversity – be it experience or culture – also provides a great platform for learning. I’ve learned more in the last 3 months that I have in the past 3 years of my career. Now that’s inspiring.


Where did the summer go? It is a refrain we utter every year at this time as school begins, the temperature starts to drop, and the night gets darker earlier. It is also a time for reflection and re-energizing ourselves. It is common knowledge that certain animals shed their skin to allow for further growth So, too, do we need to shed our skin, so to speak, to reach new levels of achievement and lose old ways of thinking and doing things. Think about it.  We naturally “shed our skin” throughout our lives as we encounter new, different, and sometimes unexpected events. Going to college. Tackling a new job. Taking on a challenging assignment.  Dealing with a difficult negotiation. All of these things cause us to explore new lines of thinking and new ways of doing our work. As I look at our business and the remainder of 2016, it reminds me how important “shedding our skin” and approaching the future with confidence, passion, and energy truly is to our personal and professional growth.

So how do we “shed our skin?” We push ourselves to be uncomfortable. We eliminate intellectual bias and negative beliefs. We learn something new. We meet someone new. We seek new perspectives and opinions. We learn a new business or category. Reaching out internally and connecting with a colleague to work together. Connecting with someone different inside a client to learn more and expand our influence and reach. How many truly understand our models or methodologies? How many regularly attend a W2O University session? What’s the latest book you’ve read?  Your client’s most recent annual report? If we stay in our current skin we will actually regress losing our value or worse. I suspect that we can cite an increasingly challenging work day as reasons for not doing one of the above. But the reality is that ultimately we all progress our thinking and techniques. Or we suffer the consequences. The difference lies in how we do it.  Proactively or reactively? Shedding our skin to grow ourselves and scale our firm to new heights. A remarkably obvious concept when you think of it.




To be honest, I had no idea what to expect coming into this summer at W2O Group. I started my internship approximately 36 hours after landing in America after a semester abroad. That day and a half had been a whirlwind as I ran through airports in Milan, Italy; Miami, FL; St. Louis, MO; and New York City, NY. I walked into the office that first Monday with a cup of coffee in one hand feeling anxious but excited for what would be an inevitably challenging summer. There were twelve interns in total coming from eight different schools. We all varied in discipline from media to analytics and everything in between. Throughout the summer we all got to know each other on a personal and professional level. We shared lunches, happy hours and some pretty intense ping pong matches. While most of us didn’t work on the same projects, we really became a sort of team. That being said, when it came to the summer intern project, it was every group for themselves as we chased those Visa gift cards and, of course, bragging rights.

My team was the first of two groups assigned to a pharma company. Each team of five was tasked with creating a social media campaign for the company’s new hair care brand; unlike the other two teams, our target audience was not specified. Our campaign, which we titled Regrow Your Flow, ultimately promised to expand the target market for the brand as well as increase consumer engagement across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Sound like a huge project? At first, we thought so too. Though our team had diverse capabilities (I worked on the earned media team, Julia specialize in copy, Victoria works in analytics, and Leah and Amanda hail from the account side), it was difficult, in the first weeks of the project, to figure out how to combine our experiences into a cohesive strategy. During our group meetings, I would rattle off terms that I have been studying for years like “PESO model” and “KOL” without thinking twice. It was hard to remember that not everyone was familiar with industry jargon like that. In turn, I spent countless mornings sitting in breakout rooms with Julia sipping my coffee and patiently waiting for my brain to turn on as she effortlessly came up with dozens of creative hashtag ideas that would begin to shape our campaign.

In the end, it was those diverse experiences that enabled our success. We figured out how to support one another, figured out how to leverage our different backgrounds, and created something really awesome. At least, we think it was awesome. We were aided by how well we worked together, always keeping things professional but still lighthearted and fun (we are interns, after all). My team members agree that we truly utilized every tool at our disposal; we communicated via GoToMeeting, email, HipChat, and phone calls, reached out to our supervisors and other W2O employees for guidance, and each brought our own unique expertise to the table when and wherever it was useful. Of course, we faced our fair share of challenges as well. Like other groups, our team members were spread across multiple W2O offices – and multiple time zones – making it difficult, at times, to coordinate meetings. In retrospect, we all agree that we should have allocated more time for creative brainstorming and big picture discussions and focused less on the logistical elements of the project. We were all proud of our campaign and I think we really demonstrated that in our presentation. Because we collaborated so much throughout the scope of the project, we were all basically experts on the product and our campaign by the time that we presented. This, coupled with the fact that Julia spent hours upon hours creating the visual masterpiece that was our deck, led the judges to call ours the most captivating presentation.

The other pharma group, also known as Reviver, was made up of John, Brittany, Kimmy, O’Brian and Andrew.  They wanted to position the hair care product as a lifestyle brand and connect empathetically with individuals, who were experiencing issues with their hair, through social media. After researching the brand and their current social strategy, they decided to create a campaign called Newave that focused on the product’s ability to help consumers start fresh with healthy and beautiful hair. They utilized platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and even incorporated of-the-moment features like Facebook Live. It was all about building confidence in their community. The biggest challenge that they faced in the beginning was learning how to flip the switch from interns at W2O to project leads within their mini agency. After spending large amounts of our week completing projects at the instruction of our supervisors, we would have to pivot when it came time for our group meetings because it was on us to figure out how we were going to shape an effective campaign. All four groups said that some ideas that were tossed around were great while others were quickly and unanimously dismissed. Working together in a group of equals like this means that you have to be willing to present a few not-so-good ideas if you want to find the really great ones. The team quickly learned not to take things personally.

Reviver really excelled at telling the story of the brand. When they were preparing for their presentation, they made sure to note that their audience hadn’t been in the brainstorming room with them for the past two months. For this reason, they were very meticulous in presenting their information, including pictures of the product in local drug stores. This added a really personal feel to their presentation and resulted in the most integrated campaign of the summer. They all feel like the skills they developed and honed by working on this project will help them in any future job they take and even during the rest of their academic careers.

The other two groups had an entirely different ask and an entirely different client to match. They were tasked with creating a cohesive brand voice for a large tech company and a personality that will appeal to Millennials. Secondly, they had to determine an effective way to carry that brand voice through a social media campaign that would increase awareness and profitability of the brand. The third group, Final Five, was made up of Sami, Leah, Garrett, Shelby and Brad. Like my group, they struggled at first to figure out their team dynamic. Initially, they approached the campaign with a divide-and-conquer strategy, relying on their individual strengths to push it along. They quickly realized that they were much more effective when they worked together as a cohesive unit.

Together, they developed a campaign called #Limitless that emphasized the limitless opportunities for innovation and creativity that the company’s wide variety of products allow for. To showcase this, they created a challenge that encouraged people to share content featuring themselves or their friends using brand’s products in innovative ways. This content was then featured in a 24-hour Snapchat story. The campaign was developed around the fact that Millennial audiences are less receptive to advertisements that feel fake and forced. By utilizing consumer generated content and connecting with Millennials through the channels that they already know and love, the brand interaction would feel like more of a natural conversation. The judges really appreciated all of the insight they pulled from analytics about how Millennials respond on different social channels and how they want to be addressed. They had the best display of social and digital thought leadership.

The other tech group goes by the name of Any One. They also will reply to “Winners” although we didn’t let them gloat too much. This team, made up of Brett, Nicole, Paul, Nikki and Gray created a great campaign that really deserved to win the challenge. Their struggles in the beginning came from the fact that they lacked a creative expert on their team the same way that other teams lacked people in certain fields. This caused them to dedicate more time to brainstorming sessions coaxing out each other’s creative sides. It also encouraged them to reach out to people in different departments of the office. Some of their most productive and beneficial meetings were with other members of the company.

The result of these efforts was a social media campaign entitled #YouDoYou. This campaign appealed to Millennials by truly inspiring them to be themselves and to use the company’s products in whatever way best fit their needs. They spent a lot of time preparing for the presentation aspect of the campaign. (It showed.) They delivered a very integrated explanation for how and why their campaign would work and even created a video to help the room better understand the feel that they hoped #YouDoYou would evoke in their target audience. They had the most creative and innovative campaign presentation and ultimately won the whole competition.

The intern project ended up being a really valuable use of our time here this summer. At the end of our internship, we are all able to walk away with a tangible example of some of the things we’ve learned at this agency. Learning seems to be a cornerstone of W2O. It was clear from the beginning that I wouldn’t be spending my internship helping my supervisor with mundane tasks. This summer was a chance to work on meaningful projects that had a direct and positive impact on our clients. Our managers and the people that we worked with here really took an interest in teaching us about important skills to have in this industry. We were also constantly encouraged to self-educate and seek out new information that would put us ahead of the game. I decided to take this internship because I wanted to leave Missouri for a taste of New York City life and because I knew that working on healthcare clients would be a sure challenge that would make me a better strategic thinker and communicator. As I prepare to leave W2O tomorrow, I am absolutely more intelligent, talented and capable than I was when I got here. I can also hold a semi-educated conversation on PDUFAs (but please don’t ask me to without giving me time to prepare). So, as cheesy as it is to say, while Any One was the rightful winner of the intern project challenge, I feel like we are all winners. I got to spend the summer working with some of the kindest and most talented individuals on the Earned Media Team and throughout the agency. I also became great friends with the other interns. Each and every one of them is exceedingly qualified in the field of strategic communication and I’m better for having known them.

The outgoing president of BrewLife reflects upon her journey and shares some hard earned wisdom in the world of communications and agency life.

In 2004, Carolyn Wang joined what was once called Weiss Comm Partners (now W2O Group) hoping to bring her experience from Ogilvy & Mather to a fledging firm specializing in biotech communications and investor relations (IR).  In the following twelve years, she solidified her career in healthcare corporate comms, advised a multitude of clients and ultimately helped grow the firm from six people in the San Francisco Bay Area to over four hundred across the globe. It was most recently recognized as The 2016 Holmes Report North America Midsize Agency of the Year. She now prepares for her new role as chief communications officer at Verily (previously Google Life Sciences).

Howie Chan: Today is your last day, how are you feeling?

Carolyn Wang: Last night I had trouble sleeping, there are emotions that are floating to the surface I have not quite acknowledged yet. But this is definitely a bittersweet time for me. Following 12 years with such an amazing team – it’s one of the main reasons I’ve stayed here – it’s those close interpersonal connections. Knowing I’m not going to see the same faces everyday… it’s tough.

How would you breakdown the phases of growth throughout the last 12 years?

I do feel like I’ve worked at a few different companies throughout the 12 years, just because of the change and the evolutions. We started out as Weiss Comm Partners, and we were a strategic consulting firm focusing on corporate communications and IR, working with a certain type of biotech companies, mostly small to mid-size. We had a couple of bigger players, but we weren’t working with big pharma, and we certainly weren’t working beyond healthcare. I think that was one of the first phases of the company.

The next phase was building the New York office with Jennifer Gottlieb and others – branching into big pharma and growing up as an agency. I was one of the first coming in from a big agency, and knew how to build a team and manage agency projects. Jim Weiss (W2O Group founder & CEO) was working with a team of pretty eccentric, very smart and senior communicators but none of them had agency experience, at least to the degree I did. Then Diane Weiser (now CCO at Cytokinetics), Jennifer Gottlieb and others came on board to continue growing and help put the right infrastructure in place.

The phase where we became an integrated firm saw the acquisition of multiple disciplines starting with ODA. All of a sudden, with Paulo Simas, Tom Haan and Matt Dong, we had brought branding and creative capabilities in-house. We were able to work hand-in-hand to achieve the vision and allowed to flex different muscles. It was really fun to play in their world.

Around that same time, we acquired social media and engagement capabilities with Paul Dyer and others. This started our expansion into the digital world in a way we hadn’t done before.  It was an intense period of learning for those of us going through these integrations. And then we just started to build and expand across the country and then London. It was amazing, we were growing at 20 to 30 percent year after year, and that didn’t plateau for sometime. When you’re growing at that rate in revenue and the number of people, it was inherent that the type of work was a lot broader, and there had to be continuous learning and growth.

What would you say was a highlight during all those years?

I must say working with and seeing the evolution of Jim Weiss has been extraordinary. It could be a graphic novel, a TV series – it’s been a wild and wooly trip but always engaging! That’s the nature of working with someone who is super driven, super smart and highly entrepreneurial. I feel fortunate to be a part of his trajectory and to be part of that ride. It’s amazing to see where we’ve come. I came in as employee number six and now we are over four hundred people with offices around the country and in London. That is no small achievement – force of nature type stuff (laughter).

There is a lot of risk. That’s the great thing about Jim too, he is really intuitive and like I said, highly engaged. He’s able to course correct whenever needed and continue in a positive direction. That whole ride has been pretty awesome.

What were examples of difficult but important learning moments?

I’m thinking about situations where you have someone, be it a client or someone from the media or an investor, somebody who is very upset and perhaps putting you on the spot in a way that is really uncomfortable – sometimes maybe even inappropriate. The way that you react to that and handle yourself in the face of that person is really important. I know I’ve been in those heated situations many times. Taking a deep breath in that moment and listening to the words versus that tone of voice, reading between the lines and understanding what the key issue is is very important – then asking the question or making a point to that person. And doing it calmly, that’s definitely a skill worth attaining. And it’s something that I had to learn over the years.

What is a trait that you value that most people often don’t see?

One thing that is probably more of a hard skill is preparation. Someone who is dynamite at that is Jennifer Gottlieb. She will not walk into any client situation without being as prepared as possible – she’s got a process and she is an expert on it. If anyone who has the opportunity to work on new business with her, you should take it. Because you’re going to learn, and she will micro-manage the hell out of it. Turn yourself over to the process and you will learn a lot.

Preparation is something that is very highly valued in our world and it’s not something everyone is necessarily great at – definitely something worth working on.

What would be your advice to junior folks just entering the world of communications?

I would say to build those hard skills, work on your quality of writing, work on your ability to tell a compelling story and to be able to pitch media and audience members. Get experience reaching out to media, be it online or offline. Get into it. It’s going to be uncomfortable at first for most people but you’ll feel so happy you did it. You will learn that it’s not that scary, it’s really about building relationships just like it is anywhere else. But media is a specific headset and a specific type – you have to learn to communicate with them how they like to be communicated with.

Treat agency like finishing school. This is the time for you to practice your skills to learn and grow. I would say jump into the swamp of integrated work and raise your hand for new experiences. At about five or six years at the firm, I did my first advisory meeting, my first drug launch, and there were all these firsts. There is a first time for everything, and you want to experience as much of that possible.

I’ve talked to people and they say that they want to be doing direct to patient and physician communications and want to work on sexy brands and drugs. That’s great, but you really should get the corporate perspective too. People want well-rounded individuals. The great thing about an agency is that you are allowed to build out the base of that pyramid – you can decide you want to specialize later. But get as broad of experience as possible.

The other thing I would say is, particularly on the agency side, there are many opportunities to learn from your colleagues on softer skills, which is more about business acumen and learning to have really difficult conversations with one another and with clients. Those skills are very important and most highly valued by organizations. Their value has less to do with our industry specifically but it’s important that we are working on those.

Talking about advice, what would you say to your 30-year-old self?

When I was 30, I’ve been here for two years, and I was pregnant with my son Owen, who is now nine years old. It’s funny – I’d been in the business by then for about seven years, and I never intended to enter the public relations or communications world. That was an unexpected foray that kinda’ turned into a career, and one that I really enjoy. I think there was a part of me at the age of 30 thinking, is this what I’m meant to be doing? I was pre-med in college and thinking I was going to go back to school for one thing or another. And there’s a part of me that has never been satisfied with where I’m at – my career trajectory. I think what I would say back then is that you’re in the right place; it’s the field for you. It’s the right place, and its actually pretty perfect. You should be confident and don’t worry so much, it’s not going to get you anywhere. Just dig in and have fun, don’t worry about it. It’s amazing what happens when you do that. There is a flow that starts to happen, you know?

As your enter into your new role as CCO at of Verily, what kind of a client will you be when working with an agency?

I want to be a really good partner. I want them to be an extension of my team. Literally, I want to be thought partners. That means they are as deep into the business and at least can see out ahead in terms of where we need to be.

I believe in really transparent direct communications. I have worked with clients with a variety of different styles in terms of keeping some information confidential from their agency partners, versus being more liberal with that information. I always feel like we’re a better partner as an agency when we have access to that information. Often times the information that’s held back is based on ultra conservative philosophy that has neither basis nor any real risk. We are under CDA for that reason and can act as that in-house strategic partner and advisor. I want to build that type of relationship with my agency and they should really feel like an extension of the team.

Anything you absolutely will not do as a client?

What I will not do is be disrespectful to my agency partners – I will treat them how I would like to be treated. That means I will not treat them as a vendor. It’s also understanding that it is a business. They have to be paid – justly and fairly for their time. While conversations could be difficult and while budgets could be difficult, it’s a part of the work relationship and shouldn’t be such a hairball.

I think it’s really simple, follow the golden rule – it’s a really small world and life’s way too short to get into silly fights and burn bridges.

How do you think you’ll feel tomorrow morning?

Well, I do like a certain amount of routine in my life. I moved around a lot growing up, which may be part of the reason why I like being with one company for as long as I have. I do like routine and the banter that I have with the team and the broader W2O team. There is a level of comfort and intimacy with a lot of the people here by virtue of the fact I’ve work with them for so long. I’m going to be leaving all that behind. There is going to be a lot of stuff happening without me, and I won’t know about it. It will be okay, but that’s what’s going to make me sad. And it’ll hit me later! I’ll be watching Finding Dory with Owen and bawling in the theater, and he’s going to think it’s about the movie and obviously it’s not. That’s how I handle sadness – freaking out people in the movie theater (laughter).

What most excites you about your next move?

Well that’s what it’s all about. I’m going to a company whose mission I feel very passionate about. It’s in a space where honestly I feel my skillset fits perfectly with what they need – that I’d be a fool not to give it a go and pursue it. I mentioned this idea of flow earlier. The way that this opportunity came about for me, the nature of the conversations with the team over there, the skillset that I feel I still need to build – all of this synced up in my head. I’m very excited about the work ahead of me with this team and this company.

Like I said, it’s a mission that I feel very strongly about in terms of making healthcare accessible and more affordable to millions of people.

It’s been a true privilege to work with you closely at BrewLife, any parting words for the team?

Don’t screw it up! (Laughter) Look at how amazing BrewLife is, don’t screw it up! And I know you guys won’t. It’s so funny. I’m leaving and on the one hand I feel like I don’t have a succession plan in place, but that’s not really true. I’ve said this before – I feel like I get a lot of credit for the culture here, for professional development, for multiple people on the team. I’m simply amplifying a lot of the ideas that’s brought to me by you, Howie and Nicole and others. The fact of the matter is that you guys are fully capable of running the show, will do a great job and will continue to develop the culture at BrewLife.

This year, we traveled across the country looking for top talent to join W2O Group’s Summer Internship Program. We visited many campuses, including UC Berkeley, Northwestern, University of Texas, Columbia, and Syracuse, among a few others. Now, as those same campuses sit abandoned and textbooks are collecting dust, our summer interns are settling into their new cities and taking the real world by storm!

nyc interns

This year, we have 23 Summer Interns spread across our offices in New York, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and London! Throughout the summer, they’ll be exposed to many different tasks and learning opportunities, including client projects with their teams, attending client and industry events, and a group intern project. We also have an exciting lineup for our “Intern Speaker Series”, where the interns will learn valuable workplace skills from internal leaders across the company.

austin interns

It’s only been a few weeks, but we decided to pick their brains to find out how their internships are going so far. Turns out, they’re already busy creating lifetime memories and making significant impacts on their teams.

Meet our 2016 Summer Interns!

We can’t wait to see what the summer holds and looking forward to contributing to the interns’ personal and professional growth, throughout the summer and beyond!

To find out more about our Summer Internship Program, follow @W2OGroupCareers on Twitter and the CommonSense Blog, where interns will continue to share their summer experience. Interested in applying for a future program? Check out for more info.  



Earlier this year, our CEO, Jim Weiss, paved the way for the future of W2O Group with the concept of “InteGREATness”. In theory, the Committee of Millennials (COM) has had this in practice since its first meeting in 2013. With over 60 interns, associates and managers across the New York, Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis offices, COM offers a space for millennials at W2O Group to educate, collaborate and innovate as we continue to develop our careers. This past month, we challenged the committee to think about how we are already “InteGREATing,” and what more we can be doing to truly “InteGREAT.”InteGREAT

What we’re already doing…

  • Engage-alytics: Engage-alytics is the crossover and collaboration between our analytics and engagement divisions. Using the data mining, insights and influencers identified by the analytics team, the engagement team is able to better serve the client. Additionally, the engagement team is able to consult about end results and best practices with influencers, which better informs the original analytics output.

Where we can improve…

  • It’s never too early or too late to “InteGREAT”: Whether you are kicking off 2017 planning or in the middle of executing one of many 2016 tactics, it is never too early or too late to bring in an outside expert to lend a new point of view and to contribute to the overall strategy. Ultimately, we should look to involve a team with diverse expertise early to maximize the ideation, counsel and services that we can provide.

As we look towards the end of 2016 and the future of W2O Group, we are excited to see how we can continue to put “InteGREATness” into practice as millennials and company-wide.

Welcome to another Going. Ahead. With Gage interview! I had the privilege of interviewing Kursten Mitchell, Managing Director at WCG, a W2O Group company. She shared insights on being a leader and how her teams operate. I hope you all gain some valuable insight and enjoy the read!

What are you doing to ensure that W2O Group is at the cutting edge?

I think one of the most important things that people can do to stay on the cutting edge is to read to really understand what is going in the market. We need to be as smart as we can about the trends and what our competition and clients’ competition is doing. That in itself won’t make us cutting edge, but you have to have a context within which to be cutting edge.

On top of that, with every project we take on we must consider “is the way I did it before the right way to do it? What could I do differently? What expertise should I ensure is present to make sure we are taking the smartest approach?” I think this is philosophy is really supported by WCG’s Go Ahead mentality, and is critical to staying at the cutting edge.

What are 3 words you would use to describe our culture?

Open – Being a relatively flat organization in terms of reporting structure and the accessibility of leadership is something that defines W2O to me. Collaborative – I feel that myself and the people I work with put a lot of emphasis on making sure that we are really working across the aisle and tapping into the expertise of the people who work here. Smart – the smarts of the people here is what really sets us apart.

In a few words, describe what your team does for the company:

My team is responsible for managing and growing the technology brands practice. Everything we do is built towards ensuring we are delivering exceptional service to our clients and making sure that our internal teams are set up right to do their best work possible. I think that is the role of the account team – to be the client advocate and the advocate for our internal teams – to play both of those sides to make sure that we end up in delivering great work.

Thinking of your most successful current employees, what characteristics do they share?

Number one is high standards for themselves and others. I think that my most successful employees are really proud of what they do and hold other people accountable to a similarly high standard so we can all be really proud of the work that we deliver. The second is accountable. At the end of the day, it is an individual’s responsibility to make it happen, and my most successful team members embrace this. The third is flexible. In account world and agency land, you don’t always get to pick what you work on. You can influence how work is shaped and go after certain types of clients or projects, but ultimately we’re here to serve client needs and we need to be able to work with what we’ve got – doing that requires flexibility.

How do you empower your employees to go that extra mile?

To me it’s about giving people the freedom to fail. I’m not saying anyone is a failure, but I think it’s important to give people room to do the job, let them run things and trust them to have the right foundation. I spend time helping to build that foundation, teaching the ins and outs of how to approach a project and build each individual’s personal expertise.  But my staff makes the choices and they know I’m available when needed for backup. I think giving people that freedom is how they will grow and be successful in their careers.

What motivates you to get up and come to work every day?

It’s absolutely the people – we have such a great team here and I think that we also get a lot of interesting work. We typically get hired because we’re working with a company that realizes that they need to change what they are doing, and we have such driven people that help with that. The people here always keeps me on my toes, thinking and living up to the greatness that we have here. It’s very exciting!

If you had to choose 1 company value that represents you, which would it be and why?

Absolutely #MakeItHappen. I’m guessing that’s a common answer.  But the other value I truly believe in is #WhySuck. Getting the best work and doing the work differently than it would be done internally is why people hire agencies. I want us to be great at everything we do, and push for that something extra.

What is the most difficult leadership decision you’ve had to make in the recent past and what did you learn from it?

I find making decisions regarding which staff members to assign to projects is an ongoing challenge. Working in an integrated agency, we need teams that are both deep and wide in terms of their knowledge and experience across the marketing and communications discipline. I often struggle with whether to assign someone to a project because I know they are already deeply knowledgeable on a subject or assign them to something new to grow their breadth of experience. What I have is learned is that there is no one correct answer to this question, and that it’s highly dependent on the client, the project and the individual – so it’s a good question to keep asking.

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We live in a world where Basel and Boston, Geneva and Fort Worth, and Zurich and New York City are partnering every day to create new medical treatments, consumer products, technology solutions and services.

Our world isn’t an office-based world. It’s a network-based world.

That’s why we’re opening up a Basel, Switzerland, office. Basel is the heart of the BioValley, which houses more than 900 life science companies and two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. An impressive number of Forbes 2000 companies are located in Switzerland, all of which work across time zones each and every day to meet the needs of their customers.

An increasing number of our clients call Switzerland home – some as their worldwide headquarters and others as their regional center. We have decided to do the same and call Basel our newest home. The network of our clients drives the network we build for W2O Group.

We are pleased to announce that Jeroen Aarden has joined us from Novartis AG to open up our Basel office and build our team there. Jeroen has more than 20 years of digital innovation and online communications expertise. Plus, he’s an expert in business intelligence.

“It was not an easy decision to leave Novartis, where I played a pivotal role in its digital transformation,” said Jeroen. “But in joining W2O Group, I  can now help drive these same types of digital transformations for companies around the world. W2O’s capabilities in analytics, together with its fantastic group of people who offer other critical communications services to clients, positions it as a prime player in this complex but critical and exciting time of change.”

With our new presence in Basel, our 40+ member team in London is thrilled to expand its reach in Europe, as are our teams throughout the U.S. In particular, Colin Foster and Eric Shenfield of Twist Mktg, and I are jazzed to have an office in Basel as all of us have previously lived and worked in that city.

W2O Group looks forward to becoming a productive member of the Swiss business community and reconnecting with many friends we’ve made over the years. More to come soon.