Wendy Carhart, Real Chemistry

Creating purpose and prioritizing culture in the workplace

A Q&A with Wendy Carhart of Real Chemistry

By Maria Fontanazza • [email protected]

Earlier this week Real Chemistry announced the promotion of Wendy Carhart to chief communications, culture and purpose officer. Following the news, Carhart spoke with Med Ad News about the significance of this newly created role and what lies ahead. “Right now we have such an opportunity to think about things differently, listen to our employees and make changes that are going to make things better for everyone,” says Carhart about the industry’s responsibility to bring positive change to the workplace and healthcare.

Med Ad News: What does it mean to you to be in a newly created position where you are chief of communications, culture and purpose?

Wendy Carhart: The high perspective I always like to start with is that we’re seeing that the world of work is forever changed. Everything we’ve all experienced over the past two-and-a-half years — working through COVID, moving to remote [work], reevaluating our lives — has forever changed how we perceive work. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to better define work for all stakeholders: employees, clients, and investors. For me, it’s an exciting opportunity to really think about how we can find new ways to bring meaning and impact together to benefit all those stakeholders. As someone who has been involved starting way back in what was then known as corporate social responsibility, this idea of finding the commonality across the different stakeholders and ways to benefit all of them is so core to what I believe in and what Real Chemistry has believed in for a long time as well.

We [Real Chemistry] have a history of doing things differently. We’re one of the first communications firms that started using data analytics way back in the day; we focused on healthcare early on as well, and now we’re seeing that the world cares about healthcare so much. We’ve always had a unique culture and have had a tremendous growth, especially over the past five years.

The point of this role is that we need to prioritize culture and really make sure we have the processes and programs, and then formalize that unique culture so we can make it last for the future; it can continue to be the driver of the growth and the engagement we have with our people and our clients. That’s the goal of this new role and why I’m really excited about it – putting culture and purpose at the center to drive engagement, growth and retention of our people.

Wendy Carhart, Real Chemistry

Wendy Carhart, chief communications, culture and purpose officer, Real Chemistry

Med Ad News: What shifts are we seeing in the industry relative to culture, values and purpose?

Wendy Carhart: I’m seeing two main themes bubble up to the top. The first is the focus and intention that people are putting in this area. It’s something that people have talked about for a long time. The pandemic has shown that like anything else in business, you have to dedicate resources, you have to measure, and you have to put very specific intention against culture and purpose to make sure they’re successful in the long term. I think that’s one shift –  really seeing organizations commit – and I think that’s a really important step. The second thing I’m seeing industry wide is flexibility. Companies are finding that we have five generations of people in the workforce in many organizations and one size does not fit all. So, building the structures that can support flexibility to let people choose what makes sense for them, for their stage of life and family, etc. is the second trend I’m starting to see across the board in terms of making shifts that better enable workplaces to thrive.

Med Ad News: Real Chemistry touts that it is “advancing transformation at the intersection of consumerization, personalization and digitization impacting healthcare today”. How has the industry evolved from the technology perspective — especially over the past 10 to 20 years — and where do you see it headed?

Wendy Carhart: I think we’re seeing the role of data and technology now permeate everything that the healthcare industry does. The continued evolution of becoming more consumer focused, really thinking about patients as consumers is a key trend that we’re seeing. I think that personalization fits in here from an industry perspective as well, and we know that not all patients are the same, so how do we as an industry evolve to treat them differently, reach them differently, and reach them where they are? Those are some of the key trends that we’re focused on at Real Chemistry, and data and AI can be an effective tool to do those things. That’s why you’ve seen us make some of those acquisitions and expansions over the last few years — so that we have those specific technologies available to increasingly target the right patients at the right time with the right message, and with the right therapy and intervention. With the role of technology, we think about the role of AI and ideas. How do you combine the data driven and very technical perspective with this rich, creative idea and history that we have as a communications agency? We think the pairing of those two things is unique and provides a lot of opportunity, particularly in health equity.

Maria Fontanazza is the director of content, Med Ad News and PharmaLive.com